Tag Archives: pivot tables

When to use SUMIF vs. Pivot Tables in Excel

SUMIF and PivotTables can both summarize data based on specific criteria, but they do so in completely different ways. In most cases, PivotTables are going to be faster and easier to get the data that you want, but sometimes using Excel formulas is the only way to handle complicated data.

All the examples from this blog post can be found in this workbook: SUMIF_PivotTable


Let’s take a look at a quick example of some fruit sales data, where we want to find information like: all sales for a date, total sales for a fruit in the given time period, or total sales for a type of fruit on a given day.


With SUMIF, you can specify the range of values you are using as the criteria (dates or fruit), the values you want to sum (sales), and the actual criteria that will determine if the values are included in the sum (“7/2/2013”, “Apple”). SUMIFS (new in Excel 2007) extends this functionality to allow multiple criteria (dates and fruit):


Note: Excel also offers COUNTIF, COUNTIFS, AVERAGEIF and AVERAGEIFS starting in Excel 2007.

You can do the same with PivotTables, but the PivotTable will also handle sorting, grouping and organizing your data so you can just lift the aggregated values right out from the table:


Here the values are automatically generated by the PivotTable. No extra work needed aside from creating the PivotTable, which is as easy as selecting the data range and specifying where the table needs to go.

Excel also applies PivotTable styles, which change be switched in one click and you can even create your own custom styles.


I extended my fruit example to use sample data from the AdventureWorks database, where I wanted to compare online and retail sales for North America, broken down by quarter: Continue reading When to use SUMIF vs. Pivot Tables in Excel

5 Underutilized Excel Features To Take Advantage Of

Let’s get straight to the point, because frankly who wants to waste any more time finagling your data and reports? The following are the top 5 Excel features I use on a constant basis to get the most out of my data.

For reference, you can download the example workbook I used in this post: Top5ExcelFeatures.xlsx

#5 – What-If Analysis


I actually only started using this one recently, but it’s quickly become a favorite. I’m particularly fond of the Scenario Manager function. What-If Analysis is comprised of three pieces: Scenarios, Goal Seek, and Data Tables. 

Scenarios has the ability to define a scenario that is associated with a particular set of cell values. You can define new scenarios that are tied to different cell values. When a new scenario is loaded, all of the values update. This is great for flipping between Best Case and Worst Case views of a worksheet.


The other two pieces are Goal Seek and DataTablesIn Goal Seek, Excel automatically computes and finds a calculated value based on the value of another cell, such as finding an interest rate based on a monthly payment. Data Tables allows you to hook up entire tables of values based on up to two variables.

#4 – Sparklines


These mini-charts were released in Excel 2010 and they provide a quick way to Continue reading 5 Underutilized Excel Features To Take Advantage Of

PivotTables Now Available within OfficeWriter 8.4

OfficeWriter 8.4

WATERTOWN, MA (February 12, 2013) – SoftArtisans announced the addition of PivotTables to their OfficeWriter product today. OfficeWriter 8.4 is now available for download. Included in this new version, is the ability to create, modify, and remove PivotTables within users’ Excel workbooks. With the new PivotTable functionality customers have the ability to add Report Filters to better filter and sort their data, as well as change the data source of a PivotTable (including PivotTables already copied with CopySheet). This provides users with more fine-grained control over their data and reports.

Also included in this product release are new features to their WordTemplate model. Within WordTemplate DOCX files, users now have the option to programmatically set the document properties of their DOCX files and to remove bookmarked content when delivering reports.

OfficeWriter provides customers Continue reading PivotTables Now Available within OfficeWriter 8.4

Watch What’s New in OfficeWriter 8.4’s PivotTable API

Take a walk through of the new PivotTable functionality in the release of OfficeWriter 8.4. To access the new API, download an OfficeWriter Evaluation.
To view a complete list of features and fixes in this release, see What’s New in OfficeWriter 8.4.‎

What’s new in OfficeWriter 8.4


OfficeWriter 8.4 packs a powerful punch with exciting new features, most notable of which is ExcelApplication support for PivotTables in OOXML (XLSX, XLSM) files. ExcelWriter already supports the use of PivotTables in ExcelTemplate and SSRS reports,  but now you can programmatically create, manipulate, and remove PivotTables with ExcelApplication.


The new PivotTable API gives you the freedom to:

  • Create PivotTables from scratch (see our tutorial on Creating a Basic PivotTable)
  • Add and manipulate PivotTable fields – data value fields, column labels, row labels, and report filter page fields
  • Access common settings like empty/error values, refresh data when opening a file, and the number of cached items to retain

With the API you also have the ability to change the data source of a PivotTable. Continue reading What’s new in OfficeWriter 8.4

NEW OfficeWriter ASKs Forum

You have opinions and we want to hear them. That’s why we’ve created OfficeWriter Asks, a new forum where you can post all of your feedback and wishlist items. Our aim: to bring you the features you desire. Each week we’ll pose a new question related to our OfficeWriter product and how we can improve upon the features you use and need.

This week on OfficeWriter Asks:
  • Pivot Tables
    Love them? Hate them? How do you use them? 

How to hide rows in a Pivot Table


ExcelWriter fully preserves existing pivot tables however the .NET implementation of the ExcelApplication object does not offer any support for manipulating the pivot tables. Since there is no way to programmatically hide pivot table rows with the ExcelApplication object this must be done in VBA.


In order to hide rows in your pivot table, you can include the following VBA which will execute when the user opens the spreadsheet in Excel.

Due to the sequence in which events are fired it is necessary to explicitly refresh the data in a pivot table in the Workbook_Open event instead of relying on the “Refresh on Open” Option in the pivot table options.

Disabling the option in Excel and refreshing the data in Workbook_Open() guarantees that the data has been refreshed after which you can the hide rows:

Private Sub Workbook_Open()
Worksheets(1).PivotTables("Pivot1").PivotFields("Field1").PivotItems("Row1").Visible = False Worksheets(1).PivotTables("Pivot1").PivotFields("Field1").PivotItems("Row2").Visible = False
End Sub

Popular (Pitan Pivot Mage Remix)

I absolutely love Wicked (I’ve seen in on Broadway and in West End), so it’s really no surprise that when I was stuck in traffic last Friday, I decided to start singing “Popular” with pivot table lyrics…

Hear the original song here.

Whenever I see data that’s way out of line,
And let’s face it, it happens all the time!
It makes me want to cringe all up inside.

And when data needs a workover,
I say, “Come on and fork it over,
and leave
that mess by the wayside.”

I’ll guarantee a fix,
with my lovely bag of magic tricks.

Don’t worry, there’s no need to be blue!
Once we are through,
it will be true:
You. Will. Use….

It’s all about pivoting.

You’ll make all the cool reports,
make your tables short,
see all the aggregate info.
So let’s start, by importing some data rows!

Everyone will think you have all the smarts,
if your reprots are filled with pivot charts.
Once I’ve finished with my magic arts
Your data will be clear
with your pivot tables near…

Because it’s pivoting.
I’ll help you do pivoting.

You may not agree right now
that pivot tables allow
you to make reports so rivetting

There’s nothing to prevent you you
from using awesome pivot-ing

La, la, la-la-la-la.

Pivot tables are the best,

And if you ever need help, call on me!

Just FYI Pitan is totally based on Galinda from Wicked

PivotTables are not displaying correctly


After creating or modifying a PivotTable with ExcelWriter 8.4 or later, the PivotTable has not changed or is empty.


ExcelWriter does not have the ability to render PivotTables. Changes made to a PivotTable using ExcelApplication will not take effect until the PivotTable is refreshed. There are several ways to refresh the PivotTable:

  1. If you are editing an existing PivotTable, in the original file, go to PivotTable Options > Data > Check off “Refresh data when opening the file.” This will ensure that Excel refreshes the PivotTable as soon as the output is opened.
  2. If you are creating a new PivotTable from scratch, make sure to set the PivotTable.PivotTableSettings.RefreshOnOpen to true. This will force the PivotTable to refresh automatically when the output is opened.
  3. If you don’t want to have Excel refresh the PivotTable when the workbook opens, you can refresh the PivotTable manually or with a macro. Right-click the PivotTable and select Refresh.

We encourage users to keep “Refresh on Open” enabled when working with PivotTables in ExcelWriter to make sure that modified PivotTables load correctly in Excel.

Error: Cannot open PivotTable source file ‘[filename[x].xls]SourceData’


When opening an Excel file containing a pivot table that was streamed to an IE client, Excel will throw the following error message:

Cannot open PivotTable source file ‘[filename[1].xls]SourceData’

This is caused by IE caching the streamed file with a temporary name containing brackets (e.g. filename[1].xlsx). Since Excel does not allow pivot table data sources to contain brackets, when the cached file is opened, the pivot tables try to refresh using the temporary file name.


There are several ways to work around this:

  • Use a non-IE browser, such as Firefox or Chrome
  • Use IE 9 or later – this appears to have been resolved in the newer versions of IE
  • Save the file to disk before opening it to avoid opening the file with a temporary name
  • Stream the file inline instead of an attachment. This will open the file in IE’s Excel plugin instead of downloading it. If you are using IE 7 or later, you will need to configure the registry on the client to use this option.
  • Add Excel macros to the report to dynamically rename the PivotTable to exclude the bracket and then refresh the PivotTable. An example of these macros is available in this blog post.

Note: This is not an issue with the OfficeWriter product. This behavior occurs anytime someone attempts to download and open an Excel workbook with a PivotTable directly from certain versions of IE.

We have made these solutions available online because our customers have found the information helpful. However, these solutions are not covered under OfficeWriter product support. If you experience issues implementing any of these solutions, we encourage you to reach out to the appropriate vendor (i.e. Mozilla for Firefox, Google for Chrome, and Microsoft for IE 9 (or later) or to configure the in-line plugin).

In particular, if you encounter difficulties with the macro solution, feel free to leave a reply on the blog post so that the author of the post can address your concerns.