The Nuance of Grand Totals in Excel-based Pivot Tables

Spreadsheets and graphs on a desk

If you have experience with pivot tables in Microsoft Excel, your emotions have probably swung from one extreme to another.

First there’s the thrill of the pivot table feature helping you to quickly summarize lists of data with almost no effort. But that surge of victory can crash to the ground when you can’t quite accomplish what feels like a simple task, such as adding grand totals to rows within a pivot table.

In this article I’ll help you manage one pivot table-related mood swing by explaining the nuances behind managing grand totals.

To create a pivot table, we must begin with a list of data, such as the example shown in Figure 1. Data you wish to analyze with a pivot table must have a unique title at the top of each column, no blank rows, and no blank columns. As shown in Figure 1, you:

  1. Click on any cell within your data.
  2. Activate Excel’s Insert menu.
  3. Select the PivotTable command.
  4. Click OK when the Create PivotTable dialog box appears.

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About David Ringstrom, CPA

David Ringstrom

David H. Ringstrom, CPA, is an author and nationally recognized instructor who teaches scores of webinars each year. His Excel courses are based on over 25 years of consulting and teaching experience. His mantra is “Either you work Excel, or it works you.” David offers spreadsheet and database consulting services nationwide.


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By JamesA
Dec 14th 2017 06:20

David - is it possible to apply the ROUNDDOWN function to the Grand Total in the pivot table ?

I have the function applied to a total in the spreadsheet but the Grand Total in the pivot performs its own calculation on the data, and delivers a different answer. I would like the 2 totals to match.

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Feb 27th 2019 14:36

I'm hoping someone can help with a calculated field of a Pivot table: I want to take say, column B in the Pivot Table and divide it by the TOTAL of column A. Can anyone help?

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