Seeing What Changed in a PivotTable

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated June 3, 2023)
This tip applies to Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Excel in Microsoft 365, and 2021


When Guy refreshes a PivotTable, he wonders if there is any way to highlight the values that changed as a result of the refreshing.

There is no capability to do this within Excel itself. Since a PivotTable is an aggregation of source data, it is subject to change as that source data changes. In this way it is similar in behavior to a regular formula within Excel—change the data on which the formula is based, and the results of the formula change. The difference, of course, is that the formula changes automatically as the source data changes, and the PivotTable must be updated through user action. In neither case, however, is a modified result indicated in the workbook.

The obvious way around this is to save your data before doing an update. That way you'll have your original, pre-update values to compare with your after-update values. With a PivotTable, you can select the entire table, press Ctrl+C, and paste the values into a new worksheet. You can then refresh the PivotTable and, on the pasted data, use conditional formats to compare the values to what is now in the PivotTable.

The only drawback to this approach, of course, is that the comparison becomes more complex if the refreshing modifies the structure of the PivotTable, such as adding or removing rows or columns.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (13348) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Excel in Microsoft 365, and 2021.

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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