Microsoft Excel PivotTables are one of my absolute favorite features found in Excel. Excel PivotTables allow for relatively quick reporting on Excel list or even external data. In the below example I was able to take 800+ detailed records about customer orders and quickly summarize the data, getting total shipping costs broken down by country and further broken out yearly.

This was completed in under a minute, just a couple clicks and drags of the mouse. Then, one additional click of the mouse I was able to add a PivotChart to show off the summarized data visually.

When the 2010 version of Excel was released Microsoft added a new feature to Excel PivotTables called “Slicers”. Slicers provide an accessible interface to filtering the results of a PivotTable and PivotChart.

Using the PivotTable example above, Country Shipping Costs, I can quickly add a slicer, providing an intuitive, accessible interface to filter the results by any data point in the original data set. For example, I could add a filter to allow users to view the data by the different shippers.

Now the users can interface with the slicer to filter for the 3 shippers (Federal Shipping, Speedy Express, or United Package). This in turn will update the PivotTable to reflect just that data. You can add multiple slicers to create a dashboard interface, creating an interactive interface for the users to quickly view the most important data to them.

2013 Excel and newer, Microsoft introduced the “Insert Timeline” filter, found below the “Insert Slicer” feature. (Works with Date values).

For a working example, download this file.