Displaying Text Values in Pivot Tables without VBA

Posted on May 7th, 2012 in Excel Howtos , Huis , Pivot Tables & Charts , Posts by Hui - 20 comments

Pivot Tables take tables of data and allow the user to summarise and consolidate the data at the same time. This is a great and very fast method of analysis but is restricted to handling mathematical functions on the value field resulting in numerical summaries.

It is possible to combine Custom Number Formats with the Pivot Table to produce Text based answers.


Download some sample data and follow along here: Sample File.

On the Simple Example worksheet

You will see that we have a sample table consisting of 5 fields, Names, Email, Opened and Date

Next add a numerical field “Open”, to convert the Opened field to a value

In F2: =(D2=”Yes”)*1 and copy F2 down

We can now add a Pivot table to the expanded table:

Select the area A1:F9

Insert, Pivot Table, Pivot Table

Select a Table or Range: ‘Basic Example’!$A$1:$F$9

Existing Worksheet: Location: I2

Once the pivot table is added, the PivotTable Field List will be displayed

Drag the Date field to the Column Labels

Drag the Email field to the Row Labels

Drag the Open field to the Sum Values

The Pivot Table will low look like this:

We can hide the Grant Total Row and Column by right clicking on the Grand Total Heading and select Remove Grand Total.

We will now add a Custom Number format to the Sum of Open area

Select the Sum of Open area

Right Click and select Format Cells

On the Number Tab, Select the Custom Category and enter a Format code: [>=1]”Yes”;[=0]”No”;

Anywhere that a value >0 occurs the word “Yes” will appear and where ever it is 0 a “No” will be shown.

You can do any of the normal Pivot Table, Filtering, Grouping etc activities and the results will change accordingly.

You can now format the Pivot Table as desired.


More Complex Results

We can use the Custom Number Formats to define up to 3 Text Values to either individual or Ranges of results.

Goto the Complex Example worksheet.

This Pivot table has used a Custom Number Format of: [<=9]”Low”;[<=19]”Medium”;”High”

This Custom Number Format assigns a Value of Low to a Sum of Rank <= 9, a Value of Medium to a Sum of Rank <= 19 and High to the remainder of the values

The Pivot Table also has a Conditional Format applied to the Sum of Rank area which applies a Color to the Font of the cells.



The limitations of this technique are in that a Custom Number Format can only display 3 Conditional formats using the [ ] parameters.

There are a number of techniques that can expand on this using VBA and these are discussed below:


Displaying Text Values in Pivot Tables with VBA

Robert Mundigl has written a great article on using Text within Pivot Tables using VBA

Emulate Excel Pivot Tables with Texts in the Value Area using VBA



You can read more about Custom Number Formats here:

Here at Chandoo.org:










You can read more about Conditional Formatting here:








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20 Responses to “Displaying Text Values in Pivot Tables without VBA”

  1. sam says:

    Its possible to display up to 4 text values.

    Have a look at the screen shot of an example that I had posted way back at the EHA and figure out how its done !


  2. ruve1k says:

    With Excel 2010 you can use Conditional Formatting to apply custom number formats which can display text. (In older versions you can only modify text color and cell background color, but not number formats.) Using CF allows for an even larger number of different display values.

  3. soumya says:

    Thanks, this helps. But how do you do it for multiple values where there is a huge amount of non repeating  text? 

  4. […] Pivot Tables take tables of data and allow the user to summarise and consolidate the data at the same time. This is a great and very fast method of analysis but is restricted to handling mathematical functions on the value field resulting in numerical summaries. – read more […]

  5. […] Read more here: Displaying Text Values in Pivot Tables without VBA […]

  6. Jon Gali says:

    There is a very good way actually for handling text inside values area.
    First you create a special column on the very left side and call it ID, and put unique ID (numbers only), and then create a pivot table with:

    Row Labels and Column labels as you like, and in the Values labels use the unique ID number.

    Move the unique ID number (copy paste) somewhere to the right and use vlookup to load the data you need using the ID as reference.

    It is a bit longer way but for me it works perfectly to combine values as you like in any moment.

    hope helps.



  7. Linda says:

    Thank you! I finally understand pivot tables thanks to your clear, concise explanations and examples.

  8. Danzi says:

    Good Day. This is exactly what i have been looking for. However when i try it on my pivot table or even when i try to recreate this exercise using the sample worksheet, i get this error:

    “Microsoft Excel cannot use the number format you typed. Try using one of the built-in number formats.”

  9. Hiren says:

    pls. help in table there is name, pan. amount. i have to make pivot table for example
    MR.X AAAAC1254T 500.00
    MR.Y AAABR1258C
    MR.A CFVDE2458T
    MR.Z AAVCR12548C
    MR.X AAAAC1254T
    MR.Z AADCD245T

  10. Hiren says:

    pls. help in table there is name, pan. amount. i have to make pivot table for example
    MR.X AAAAC1254T 500.00
    MR.Y AAABR1258C 1000
    MR.A CFVDE2458T 2000
    MR.Z AAVCR12548C 5451
    MR.X AAAAC1254T 45564
    MR.Z AADCD245T 4500
    how to get pivot tabe so i get PAN no. against Name.

  11. Letitgo says:

    I found an easy way to get text values in pivot table.

    I create an other worksheet in wich each cell has a formula that copy the pivot table. The trick is that the formula does a lookup for the numbers in the pivot table.

    The formula looks like that:
    =IF(ISNUMBER(table!A1);VLOOKUP(table!A1;Code!$A$1:$B$65;2);IF(ISBLANK(table!A1);” “;table!A1))

    Code is a worksheet where there is a liste of text /numbers correspondance.

    As a bonus The new sheet is easier to format

    Additional trick:
    In my case, i encoded differents codeid with a power(2, codeId-1) so that summing then is equivalent to concatenate them.


    yields :

    5 – AC
    14 – BCD

  12. Tushar says:

    I want to ask if pivot can display dates in pivot field. As in a column i have customers and in row different items i want to know there last purchase date. anyone help in this??

  13. Tushar says:

    Hello Guys, Need your help
    I am doing some analysis of the cycle time of the product i.e how much time a product takes from manufacturing to the central warehouse.
    I have batch numbers for the product and against them i have to pull out the diff. dates
    Like the base date is from where the manufacturing start. So i have the batch number,against it’s manuf. date. Now i have to pull out the date when it was quality released.
    I have the quality released data but the data have duplicates, like i will have two dates or may be three for the same batch. So my main objective is to pull out the date which is latest among them.

    BATCH NO. DATE of Mfg. DATE of Quality release
    A1 12/4/2014 (HERE I HAVE TO PULL value)

    Next Sheet
    BATCH NO. DATE of Quality Release
    A1 14/5/2014
    a2 23/5/2016
    A1 12/5/2014
    A1 13/6/2014

    From this sheet i have to pull up the latest date format of date here is dd/mm/yyy


  14. […] needed to present text instead of counts in a pivot table value column. Here is an excellent resource for Excel manipulation, in addition to an overview of pivot […]

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