EXCEL: Other Data Sources You Can Use to Create a Pivot Table

The latest versions of Excel are jam-packed with new features!

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How are your Excel skills? Brushing up or learning how to use Microsoft Excel as a business tool could see you brimming from ear to ear too.

WE’RE ALWAYS UPDATING OUR Excel training courses, and as we do so, we’re reminded of just how useful Excel continues to be for small business owners — particularly the latest versions of Excel which include a boatload of new features that make it easy to create and manage relational databases, which you can also use as the data source for a pivot table.

But supposing, for whatever reason, you don’t want to use an Excel database as your pivot table’s data source? Well, there are some other options to create a pivot table without manually entering the information into Excel first. Here are a few more data sources that you can use to create a pivot table in Excel.

Office data connection files

The office data connection (ODC) file extension was created by Microsoft and contains properties to connect to and retrieve data from an external data source. It contains a connection string, data queries, authentication information and other settings. Microsoft recommends that you retrieve external data for your pivot tables and reports using ODC files.

External relational databases

If, for instance, you’re using another relational database program, like Microsoft Access or Filemaker Pro, you can also import data directly from these programs into your pivot table, rather than manually entering the data into an Excel worksheet. In the case of connecting data from an MS Access database, you can do this quite simply by selecting Access from the ‘data source’ dialog box. For all other external databases, you would select the ‘from other sources’ dialog box and follow the steps in the data connection wizard.

Using another pivot table

Each time that you create a new pivot table, Excel stores a copy of the data for the report in memory, and saves this storage area as part of the workbook file. To use one pivot table as the source for another, both must be in the same workbook. If the source pivot table is in a different workbook, copy the source to the workbook location where you want the new one to appear. Keep in mind that when you refresh the data in the new pivot table, Excel also updates the data in the source pivot table, and vice versa. When you group or un-group items, or create calculated fields or calculated items in one, both are affected.

Create a database in Excel first

The easiest and most efficient way to create a pivot table is to create a database in Excel first. Here, you can update and manage as much information about your business — including customer data and financial data — and then use that as a data source for a pivot table.

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Creating databases and pivot tables are part of our advanced Microsoft Excel training course, but you can start your Excel journey with our FREE beginners’ Excel course. Read more about our beginners, intermediate and advanced Excel training courses on our website, or enrol to start learning by 5pm tomorrow!


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Explaining Why Excel’s Pivot Tables are So Mighty!

No amount of data is too big for Excel’s pivot tables

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Go You Excel Pivot Table! Excel’s signature function, the pivot table, is still as useful for making sense of large amounts of data as it ever was.

WE’VE RECENTLY BEEN UPDATING the content for our Excel training courses and were reminded of just how useful Excel is for small businesses. In Excel, you can easily create and manage client databases and then export part or all of that data into a Word document, your accounting software, an email marketing service, or use it in other Excel documents, such as a pivot table.

A pivot table is Excel’s signature, and most powerful, feature — Microsoft trademarked the words ‘pivot’ and ‘table’ in their compound form PivotTable back in the 1990s. So if you intend to use Excel in any meaningful way for your business, knowing how to create and work with pivot tables is an essential skill, one which we cover in our newly-updated, advanced Excel online training courses.

What are pivot tables used for?

A pivot table is a way to quickly summarise and analyse large amounts of data, and the pivot tables you can create in Excel are especially designed for:

  • Subtotalling and aggregating numeric data
  • Summarising data by categories and subcategories
  • Creating custom calculations and formulas
  • Expanding and collapsing levels of data
  • Drilling down on details from summary data
  • Filtering, sorting, grouping and conditionally sorting data
  • Presenting concise, attractive, and annotated reports
  • Moving rows to columns and vice versa (‘pivoting’) to see different summaries of source data.

Pivot table data sources

There are a few ways that you can create a pivot table, though the most common way is to use an existing Excel worksheet — a database, for example — as a data source. Here are a few ways to create a pivot table in Excel:

  • Excel tables: Excel tables are already in list format and are good candidates for pivot table source data. When you refresh the pivot table report, new and updated data from the Excel table is automatically included in the refresh operation.
  • Using a dynamic named range: To make a pivot table easier to update, you can create a dynamic named range, and use that name as the pivot table’s data source. If the named range expands to include more data, refreshing the pivot table will include the new data.

Create a database in Excel first

The most efficient way to create a pivot table is to create a database in Excel first. Here, you can update and manage as much information about your business — including customer data and financial data — and then use that as a data source for a pivot table.

***

Creating databases and pivot tables are part of our advanced Microsoft Excel training course, but you can start your Excel journey with our FREE Beginners’ Excel Course. Read more about our Beginners’, Intermediate and Advanced Excel training courses on our website, or enrol to start learning by 5pm tomorrow! We cover ALL levels for ONE LOW COST.

And with EOFY looming, be sure to take advantage of our specials!


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