What makes a pivot table a “pivot table” and how is it different from a regular graph or chart?

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What makes a pivot table a “pivot table” and how is it different from a regular graph or chart?

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A pivot table is a way of dynamically presenting data in a spreadsheet program like Microsoft Excel.

For example let’s say you had a spreadsheet of your company’s monthly financial results for the last 20 years. In a pivot table, you could quickly do things like showing each year’s total, or each year’s average, things like that.

In your initial table, you can have rows that represent individual data points. Each column contains a feature of that data point.

What a pivot table allows you to do is to pivot dimensions. What was organized as columns can become organized along rows and vice versa.

Suppose you had data on the monthly production at 5 different factories. There are two fundamental ways to store these data.

First is “long.” The long data will have many rows and three columns: month, factory, and production. To see the production at factory 3 in May 2020, you find the row where month=”May 2020″ and factory=3, then read the value in the production column.

Second is “wide.” The wide data will have just 1 row but many columns. Each column will be labeled something like “Factory X month M”. To see production at factory 3 in May 2020, you find the column labeled “Factory 3 month May 2020” and read the value below.

Both wide and long data are useful in different contexts, and people who do a lot of work with data regularly need to switch between them. So all modern data environments have built-in commands to make it happen. In Excel, this is the “pivot table,” so named because you’re literally “pivoting” the data from a long orientation to a wide orientation or vice-versa.