Using Classic PivotTable Layout as the Default

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated July 14, 2022)
This tip applies to Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Microsoft 365


Nancy creates a lot of PivotTables and likes the old layout better than the default set up in Excel 2010 and later versions. Every time she creates a PivotTable she has to go to PivotTableOptions | Display | Classic PivotTable Layout. Nancy wonders if there is a way she can make the classic display the default.

For most versions of Excel there is no way to set this default, but it is possible to make the process a bit less painful. I created a PivotTable and left it empty, with nothing defined in the various sections of the PivotTable. With the PivotTable sheet visible, I turned on the macro recorder and recorded just the steps that Nancy mentioned, above. Here's what was recorded:

Sub Macro1()
' Macro1 Macro

    With ActiveSheet.PivotTables("PivotTable1")
        .InGridDropZones = True
        .RowAxisLayout xlTabularRow
    End With
End Sub

As you can see, there isn't much (programmatically) to changing back to classic layout—all you need to do is issue two statements that affect the PivotTable. This macro can be improved just a bit, however, by making it more "universal."

Sub PivotTableClassic()
    Dim pt As PivotTable

    For Each pt In ActiveSheet.PivotTables
        pt.InGridDropZones = True
        pt.RowAxisLayout xlTabularRow
    Next pt
End Sub

This version of the macro steps through each of the PivotTables on the current worksheet (if any) and applies those two statements that set them to classic layout.

The best idea we've been able to come up with is to assign this macro to the Quick Access Toolbar or to a shortcut key. Immediately after creating the macro, you can click the QAT button or press the shortcut key and Excel makes all the PivotTables on the sheet classic.

Notice, just a bit earlier that I said "for most versions of Excel" that you couldn't set the default. In late 2017 or early 2018, Microsoft actually added a way that you can set the default. This ability was "pushed out" to those who subscribe to Office 365. This means that it is available to those using Excel 2016—at least those using Excel 2016 in Office 365 and Excel 2019. (If you use a stand-alone version of Excel 2016 you don't have this capability. Sorry!)

To see if you can set this default, start by displaying the File tab of the ribbon, and then click on Options. This displays, of course, the Excel Options dialog box. (See Figure 1.)

Figure 1. The Excel Options dialog box.

Notice that near the upper-right corner of the dialog box there is a Data option. This option isn't available on all versions of Excel; it was the option added in that update to Excel 2016 that I mentioned.

Assuming your version of Excel has that option available, follow these steps from this point:

  1. Click the Data option. Excel changes what is displayed in the Excel Options dialog box.
  2. Click the Edit Default Layout button. Excel displays the Edit Default Layout dialog box.
  3. Click the PivotTable Options button. Excel displays the PivotTable Options dialog box.
  4. Make sure the Display tab is selected. (See Figure 2.)
  5. Figure 2. The Display tab of the PivotTable Options dialog box.

  6. Click the Classic PivotTable Layout check box.
  7. Click OK to dismiss the PivotTable Options dialog box.
  8. Click Cancel to dismiss the Edit Default Layout dialog box.
  9. Click Cancel to dismiss the Excel Options dialog box.

You are now set—classic design layout will be the default as you create your new PivotTables. It won't affect any PivotTables previously created, but at least you are good to go from here on out.


If you would like to know how to use the macros described on this page (or on any other page on the ExcelTips sites), I've prepared a special page that includes helpful information. Click here to open that special page in a new browser tab.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (3576) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Microsoft 365.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...


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What is two more than 0?

2020-11-13 15:37:53


Thanks! Excel options did the trick.

2019-05-01 13:41:51

D Fields

The new table format is nearly worthless for anything I ever have to do. Recording a Macro to run every time I create a new pivot seems like a very clunky workaround.

Microsoft needs to learn that making changes just for the sake of change is not a value add to the customer. Wee need to be able to customize the default to better work for our needs.

That this is not a function we can set as our preferred default select is ridiculous.

Thank you for posting this. I now know at least that I didn't just miss a setting somewhere. I always find value here even if the answers are not the ones I wanted or expected.

2019-01-14 14:38:45

Frank W Bluemke

This does not work for me! I have the new options dialog box and it saves my selections but not when i create a new pivot table!

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