Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Office 365. If you are using an earlier version (Excel 2003 or earlier), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for earlier versions of Excel, click here: Editing PivotTables without Underlying Data.

Editing PivotTables without Underlying Data

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated March 29, 2018)

Stephen works with workbooks that originate with other people in his company. These workbooks regularly have PivotTables in them. It seems that Stephen cannot edit some of the PivotTables, instead getting an error message that says the "underlying data was not included." This is a bit confusing, since Stephen received the entire workbook.

Normally this error occurs not when the underlying data is not present in the workbook, but when the underlying data cache is not saved with the PivotTable. This is usually done in an attempt to create a smaller file when the workbook is saved.

In order to edit the PivotTable, try simply refreshing the data (right-click the table and choose Refresh Data). If this doesn't work, or if you want to eliminate the message entirely, then you can follow these steps:

  1. Right-click the PivotTable. Excel displays a Context menu.
  2. Click PivotTable Options. Excel displays the PivotTable Options dialog box.
  3. Make sure the Data tab is displayed. (See Figure 1.)
  4. Figure 1. The Data tab of the PivotTable Options dialog box.

  5. Make sure the Save Source Data with File option is selected.
  6. Click OK.

You should note that when this option is selected, the file size of your workbook can be significantly larger than if the option is not selected. This is a tradeoff, however, as the PivotTable should display quicker since it is working with the data in the cache.

If these techniques don't work, it could be because the underlying data for the PivotTable really isn't in the workbook. If you poke around in the workbook and cannot find the data, then it could be that the data was being pulled from an external source—outside of Excel. If this is the case (you will need to check with the PivotTable's author to verify this) and if the PivotTable options have been set to not save the cache, as previously described, then you won't be able to make edits.

If you determine that this is the case with your situation, then you'll need to have the original author again generate the PivotTable and make sure that the Save Source Data with File option is checked.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (10089) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Office 365. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Excel here: Editing PivotTables without Underlying Data.

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. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Understanding Monospace Fonts

Monospace fonts allow you to easily achieve a specific "look" with your text or to line up information in a certain way. ...

Discover More

Deleting a View

When you no longer need a view, you can get rid of it by deleting it. Deleting unnecessary views is a good idea because ...

Discover More

Positioning Headers and Footers

Headers and footers can add a finishing touch to your printed documents. Here's how you can position those headers and ...

Discover More

Excel Smarts for Beginners! Featuring the friendly and trusted For Dummies style, this popular guide shows beginners how to get up and running with Excel while also helping more experienced users get comfortable with the newest features. Check out Excel 2013 For Dummies today!

More ExcelTips (ribbon)

Rows in a PivotTable

PivotTables are used to analyze huge amounts of data. The number of rows used in a PivotTable depends on the type of ...

Discover More

Default Formatting for PivotTables

Wish there was a way to define how you want PivotTables formatted before you actually create the PivotTable? You may be ...

Discover More

Pointing PivotTables to Different Data

Changing the data source PivotTables go to can be a bit tricky. This tip explains what can happen when you re-point your ...

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.

Comments

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is four more than 7?

There are currently no comments for this tip. (Be the first to leave your comment—just use the simple form above!)


This Site

Got a version of Excel that uses the ribbon interface (Excel 2007 or later)? This site is for you! If you use an earlier version of Excel, visit our ExcelTips site focusing on the menu interface.

Newest Tips
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.