If your Excel data is in monthly columns, like the worksheet shown below, you’ll have trouble setting up a flexible pivot table. Instead of leaving the data like this, see how to normalize data for Excel pivot table setup.
Switch to a Vertical Layout
Instead of multiple columns with sales amounts, rearrange your data into a single column of amounts. Adjacent columns will show the product name and month. This process will “normalize data” for Excel pivot table setup, and makes it easier to work with.
The steps below explain how to do this quickly — you don’t have to manually rearrange the data!
Rearrange the Data With a Pivot Trick
Because the original data, with 12 columns for months, looks almost like a completed pivot table, we want to “unpivot” the data, or “normalize” it.
[Update] If you have Excel 2010 or later, use Get & Transform, or Power Query, to quickly “unpivot” the data. If those tools aren’t available in your version of Excel, follow the instructions below.
To change the data layout, you can create a Multiple Consolidation Ranges pivot table, as shown in the video below. Usually that type of pivot table is used for combining data on different sheets, but it has the side benefit of changing horizontal data into a vertical layout.
After you create the pivot table from multiple consolidation ranges, double-click on the Grand Total cell.
That will extract the source data onto a new worksheet, with all the monthly amounts in a single column.
You can change the column headings in the extracted data — Product, Month and Amount are the new headings in this example.
Then, build a new pivot table, from the normalized data. Instead of having 12 value fields (one for each month), you will have one value field — Amount.
Video: Normalize Data for Excel Pivot Table
This Normalize Data for Excel Pivot Table video shows the steps for changing the data layout to create a flexible pivot table.
Normalize Data for Excel Pivot Table Workbook
To test the Multiple Consolidation Ranges pivot table technique, you can download the sample file from my Contextures website. Go to the Fix Pivot Table Source Data Layout page, and go to the Download section.
The file is in Excel 2007 format, and zipped. There are no macros in the workbook.