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: Formatting a PivotTable.

Formatting a PivotTable

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated January 2, 2021)

You know that you can format cells in your worksheets by using the different tools on the various Ribbon tabs. Excel also allows you to format PivotTables using these same techniques. You should know, however, that the best way to format PivotTables is to use the AutoFormat feature. This is because whenever you manipulate the table or refresh the data, any explicit formatting you might have applied (using the Ribbon tabs) has a good chance of being eliminated by Excel. This limitation does not apply when you use the built-in AutoFormats.

To use the AutoFormat feature, select a cell in the PivotTable, and then use one of these techniques:

  • Display the Home tab of the Ribbon and click Format as Table in the Styles group.
  • Display the Design tab of the Ribbon (this tab is only visible when you select a cell in the PivotTable).

The differences between these two options are in how the available choices are accessed. If you choose the first option, you have a large number of table formats that can be applied to your PivotTable. If you choose the second option, then the same table formats are available, but it takes longer to scroll through them all.

It is also interesting that Excel allows you to define your own formats to be applied to PivotTables. This is very powerful, as it allows you to define and preserve just the formatting you want. Follow these steps:

  1. Select a cell within your PivotTable.
  2. Display the Home tab of the Ribbon and click Format as Table in the Styles group. Excel displays a whole host of options.
  3. At the bottom of the available options click New PivotTable Style. Excel displays the New PivotTable Quick Style dialog box (Excel 2007 and Excel 2010) or the New PivotTable Style dialog box (later versions of Excel). (See Figure 1.)
  4. Figure 1. The New PivotTable Style dialog box.

Regardless of the name (which varies based on the version of Excel you are using), the dialog box allows you to independently select different parts of the PivotTable (called elements) and apply different formatting to them. You can get as detailed as you want and then save the style under the name specified at the top of the dialog box.

After a style is defined, you can apply it in the same way that you apply any other table style to your PivotTable.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (10283) 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: Formatting a PivotTable.

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

Formatting for Hundredths of Seconds

When you display a time in a cell, Excel normally displays just the hours, minutes, and seconds. If you want to display ...

Discover More

Counting Groupings Below a Threshold

When analyzing data, you may need to distill groupings from that data. This tip examines how you can use formulas and ...

Discover More

Automatic Row Height for Wrapped Text

When you format a cell so that the information within it can wrap to multiple lines, you may be surprised if Excel ...

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)

Easy Filtering Specifications for a PivotTable

When you want to include specific records from a source table into a PivotTable, you need to employ some sort of ...

Discover More

Expanding PivotTable Rows to Sheets

PivotTables are a great way to work with large quantities of data in an intelligent manner. Sometimes, however, you just ...

Discover More

Text Truncated in PivotTable

When you create a PivotTable based on data that contains lots of text, you may be surprised to find that your text is ...

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 two minus 2?

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.