This tutorial will walk you through the steps of creating your first Pivot Table. I already made one on this linked Google Sheet with the source data on the "Raw Data" sheet and the Pivot Table on the, you guessed it, "Pivot Table" sheet. The Pivot Table in the linked file is what you will have at the end of this tutorial.

Start with Good Data

Table of data before being used in a Pivot Table
Table of data before being used in Pivot Table

The table of data in the image above is a good example of what makes good data for a Pivot Table. It has headers and the names of the headers describe the data that's underneath it. The Sales Rep header is on a column that contains the names of the sales reps (duh). More importantly there are no breaks in this data meaning that there are no blank lines. Also, the table is so large that you can't just look at it and get the information. If the table of data was small, there could be no need for a Pivot Table since you could see all of your answers by eyeballing the data yourself.

Video Explanation

Create Your Pivot Table

Go to Data then Pivot table
Go to Data then Pivot table

Make sure that you have selected a cell within the source table of data then go to the menu, select Data, and Pivot table as shown in the image above. That gives you a blank slate that you're going to work with. Sheets will "suggest" different Pivot Table configurations using artificial intelligence to as shown in the image below. Unless you have very simple data, and you just want to have it summarized by one dimension, these are not going to guess what you want because there are so many different combinations. But, if you do just try one of these and click on it, it's going to build a table for you which can be helpful if you have simple needs.

Suggested Pivot Table Configurations
Suggested Pivot Table Configurations

Add Data to the Pivot Table

Now we will start building out our Pivot Table. If we want to analyze the data by Sales Rep first, and get the Sales Reps names going down the left-hand column, this is where it gets little bit confusing and it may be more clear to watch in the video. You want the Sales Reps names in the leftmost column, but you want the name of each salesperson to be in a row. You need to add the Sales Rep for Rows even though these rows will be filling the first column. Sheets will fill them into the Pivot table in alphabetical order.

For the columns, you want the Ship Mode, and again, this is a little bit confusing, right? This is a row. It's going to be your row of headers, but each column is going to have the data in it so it's called Columns. Let's add the Ship Mode.

Add Sales Rep as a Row
Add Sales Rep as a Row
Add Ship Mode as a Column
Add Ship Mode as a Column

You'll notice, each time you add a field, it's asking if you want to show the totals or not. Let's leave both of those checked and there will be a Grand Total for the Sales Rep and a Grand Total for the Ship Mode.

Leave on the Show totals option
Leave on the Show totals option

The Values field is going to be what it shows you in the middle of your pivot table. For this table, we will be looking at the number of sales, not the dollar amount. Go to values and add our Sales column. It's the field with the dollar amounts in it. Sheets defaults to summing dollar amounts. We want to count each one of them as one so we are going change the function from SUM to COUNT.

Add the COUNT of Sales
Add the COUNT of Sales
Basic Pivot Table
Basic Pivot Table

Add the Dates

Now that we have Sales Rep and we have a count by each Ship Mode, the last thing we want to do is look at the data by year. Let's have the dates on the left-hand side to the right of Sales Reps. Remember this is called rows, even though it's a column. Let's add another column of rows, and we are going to make it the date.

Add Date as Another Row
Add Date as Another Row
Pivot Table with Too Much Detail
Pivot Table with Too Much Detail

Group the Dates

This isn't what you want, right? We want it by year but, in order to do that, you had to add the dates. What you can do is right click on any of the dates, and create a pivot data group, and select Year.

Pivot Table Grouping by Year
Pivot Table Grouping by Year

This is going to summarize the data by year because Google Sheets recognizes the data as valid dates. It can extract the Year and summarize by just that.

Pivot Table Grouping by Year
Pivot Table Grouping by Year

Filter by Date

Let's say you're just looking for 2018. Let's go back to the right, scroll down to the filters. We're going to add a filter for the date. This will be a little bit tricky how we're gonna do this. Let's do a drop down it said showing all items. We're going to select clear and then we're going to type in 2018. We're going to hit select all.

Pivot Table Date Filter
Pivot Table Date Filter
Pivot Table Just 2018
Pivot Table Just 2018

What we're doing here is, we're saying unselect everything, show no dates. Then, if you type in 2018, it'll show only the 2018 dates that are in the original table. If you click select all, it's going to select only the 2018 dates. Click OK. You have this filtered by 2018. Click OK, and there you are.

Completed Pivot Table

A really easy to understand pivot table with just the data that you need and, if you want to change anything, this is always live. I could just go back here and customize it however you want. So that's all. Taking a good solid list of data that has columns with consistent data types in it, no blanks, and we've created this pivot table that gave you the exact information that you wanted to see.

Finished Pivot Table
Finished Pivot Table