As most Microsoft Excel users can tell you, a pivot table report can be a very valuable tool for analyzing data and drawing useful, actionable information out of it. If you are tracking business-related data in an Excel worksheet, there is a good chance you should be using the pivot tables to parse the results. If you aren't, you are probably hamstringing your ability to create useful reports.
For a long time, the inability of Google Docs to create pivot table reports was a major drawback and was often cited as one reason power users insisted on using Microsoft Excel. I was among those power users, but back in May 2011 Google added pivot table reports to Google Docs. Now, the powerful features Excel users have had for years are available to users of Google Docs.
Create a pivot tableTo create a pivot table report in Google Docs, you must first have a spreadsheet of data like Figure A. This is a very simple example, but in general, spreadsheet candidates for pivot table treatment will have more than one column or row type. In this simple example, we not only have a column of months but also a column of sales people.
First you need a spreadsheet with data to analyzeSelect the range you want to use for your pivot table and then click Data | Pivot table report to get to the creation screen (Figure B).
Add fields to create your pivot table report
Click the Add field links under each section to construction your report. The steps are very similar to the steps you would use to create a pivot table in Excel.
Check out this Google Docs tutorial for a better look at how you can drag and drop elements to create your report.
Pivot table reports are very powerful tools for analyzing data to derive information that can lead to better business decisions. It is a skill that you should master and now that it is available in Google Docs you have more options about how and where you can apply the tool.
Mark W. Kaelin has been writing and editing stories about the IT industry, gadgets, finance, accounting, and tech-life for more than 25 years. Most recently, he has been a regular contributor to BreakingModern.com, aNewDomain.net, and TechRepublic.