Time for a quick weekend poll. What is your favorite tool for data analysis?

- Formulas
- Pivot Tables
- Or both

Post your choice in the comments. Also mention the number of years Excel experience you have.

For ex, my answer is: Both (10 years)

- Last updated on September 4, 2015

Share

Facebook

Twitter

LinkedIn

Time for a quick weekend poll. What is your favorite tool for data analysis?

- Formulas
- Pivot Tables
- Or both

Post your choice in the comments. Also mention the number of years Excel experience you have.

For ex, my answer is: Both (10 years)

Facebook

Twitter

LinkedIn

**Share this tip **with your colleagues

Simple, fun and useful emails, once per week.

**Learn & be awesome.**

Thank you so much for visiting. My aim is to make **you awesome in Excel & Power BI. **I do this by sharing videos, tips, examples and downloads on this website. There are more than 1,000 pages with all things Excel, Power BI, Dashboards & VBA here. Go ahead and spend few minutes to be AWESOME.

Read my story • FREE Excel tips book

Overall I learned a lot and I thought you did a great job of explaining how to do things. This will definitely elevate my reporting in the future.

Rebekah S

Reporting Analyst

From simple to complex, there is a formula for every occasion. Check out the list now.

Calendars, invoices, trackers and much more. All free, fun and fantastic.

Power Query, Data model, DAX, Filters, Slicers, Conditional formats and beautiful charts. It's all here.

Still on fence about Power BI? In this getting started guide, learn what is Power BI, how to get it and how to create your first report from scratch.

Let’s say you have daily data and your boss wants to see the trends by week in month or week in quarter? How do you calculate the week number in a month or quarter? In this article, let me explain the logic and formulas we can use Excel for this.

**One email per week** with Excel and Power BI goodness. Join 100,000+ others and get it free.

© All rights reserved.

## 167 Responses to “Weekend poll: Formulas or Pivot Tables?”

Both

Pivot Tables.

15 years using Excel, but last 5 years more analysis.

both

Both 5 years

Both

Love, love, love Pivot Tables.

Need formulas though, for automating BW workbooks. Unless changing pivot tbl data source can be automated (but I don't know VBA).

10-15 years

Both, 11 years

Both (2 years)

Both, but more formulae than pivot tables.

Even when using pivot tables, I put the GetPivotData function to a lot of use. (7 years)

I think Formulas are better than Pivot Table

Both (5 years)

[1] Pivot Tables

[2] Structured References

[3] Formulas

10 years

Same as Winston:

[1] Pivot Tables

[2] Structured References

[3] Formulas

10 years

Same as Winston

20+ years

Hi!

Both

-Formulas for the challenges

-Pivot Tables for the ease of use

7 years

Have a nice day!

Both 17 years.

Both, but PivotTables are harder for users to break 🙂

Pivot tables

Basic Excel skills: about 12 years

Advanced Excel skills: about 9 years

Both. Excel (8 years) After I saw QA chart using pivot 4 years ago, I learned to use it. Before that, almost exclusively formula.

Pivot tables...definitely pivot tables

Both - which one I want depends on what I am trying to do.

My Excel experience is over 15 years (but my database experience began with FoxBase on Apple years ago).

Both - depending on what I'm doing.

I probably use formulas more often because of what I do.

(15 years)

Formulas (about 6 yrs)

Formulas. (30+ years. Starting by LOTUS.)

Both...(1) Year

I say both.

excel experience = 6 years and counting. 🙂

Formulas.

(makes you creative 😀 )

Both are useful to use

Both (15 years or so)

Pivot for getting something quick and easy

Formulas for getting creative

Both, but usually formulas that grab the data from Pivot Tables. 7 years

Both (5 years)

Both - 10 years

Both (11 Years)

Both (7 years)

Both (3 years). Pivots to sort and filter big data and formulas to massage it into useful metrics.

Fomulas

30+ years

BOTH

Pivot tables for the heavy lifting and formulas when needed. (9 years)

Both (5 years)

I primarily use Pivot Tables. I've been an Excel user for 15 years.

Both (23 years plus Lotus 123)

I use both. Currently I work with analyzing a 400,000 row spreadsheet that takes too long to calculate formulas. Pivot Tables are more forgiving.

A Chandoo.org expanded training on adding formulas to Pivot Tables would be very helpful.

"Used" Excel for over 20 years. Used it as a more powerful tool only in the last 8 years.

Both – depending on what I’m doing.

I probably use Pivot tables more often because of what I do.

21 years

Both

25 years (Excel and Lotus 123)

Both ,,, for me it all depends on the situation or what is required at the time. Pivot tables can be quick and easy to pull information ( and with the use of slicers etc can be useful for occasional users ).

15 years plus Lotus 123

Both, and Power Pivot

Experience - well I started with VisiCalc so 30 something years

Formulas, much more elegant & creative...

Both (14 years), dependng on the specific need

(lost count)

Both, depending on the problem being addressed. (18 years)

Pivot Tables - hard for users to break.

Formulas - as needed, but tell users YMMV

21 years - started with old school macros.

For analysis = pivot tables

For a published dashboard = formulas are must!

Years = however long has Excel been out.

Both - almost 20 years

I like both

Both (5 years)

Formulas (25 years)

Both

6 years

Both. 10 yrs. Excel rocks my boat !

Both 3 years

Both (>20 & Lotus, Quatro, I7, Supercalc & others..)

Formulas!

Pivot tables are the one thing I just can't seem to get the hang of, but that could very well be that the test data I work with just doesn't fit that format well. And it's sensitive, proprietary data, so I can't send it out to the greater Excel HiveMind for assistance...;^) But with INDEX/MATCH formulas, they think I can walk on water AND turn it into wine! 10 years experience...

Both. 20 years.

Formula (10 years)

Pivot tables built on PowerPivot metrics. 3 years

Both - 25+ years

Formulas to correct data anomalies then Pivot Tables to summarize and report.

Both- 24 yrs with excel. Lotus before that!

both; 10 years

Both

12 years

Both (21 years)?

Join me at http://www.careware.wordpress.cpm

1. Pivot Tables - simpler to use and often avoids using array formulaas

Pivot Table (17 years) I love Pivot Tables!

Both

Each has pros and cons. together they are awesome!

Both (15 years) + Lotus 1-2-3 before that 🙂

Formulas, 8 years with Excel

Formulas - almost exclusively. Users wreak way too much havoc when given access to pivot tables! 🙂

I can lock away the formula sheets and just show them the pretty little check boxes and drop down buttons! LOL!

Both (15 yrs)

Formulas. 5 years with Excel

Both (20 yrs)

Both, depending on what works best for the user. More often, that's formulas. 20 years.

Both (20 years)

Both.

But I prefer formuals more .

10 YearS

Both (14 years)

both

no of years expereince 10 years

answer is both

no of years expereince 10 years

Both (10 years)

I love pivot table very easy to get the results. Do special paste for formulas in another sheet.

Depends on the need...

Formulas for complex analysis, then Pivot Table for simple tasks that fit into that box. (Over 30 years, started with Lotus Symphony, then 123, Quattro Pro, and finally Excel when it got up to speed.)

Pivot tables. Almost 27 years since it first appeared in Windows ~ late 1987 to early 1988. I was primarily an Apple ][ (VisiCalc) and CP/M (MultiPlan & SuperCalc) user back then, and Excel was available on Macintosh before Windows. I could not afford a Macintosh and was very resistant to the graphical GUI versus command line back then.

I've used VisCalc, MultiPlan, SuperCalc, Lotus 1-2-3, Quattro Pro, SmartSuite, etc. on Apple ][, CP/M, DOS, MS-DOS, and Windows over the years beginning in the late 1970's. I never became very proficient in any of them, however. I recall Borland's Quattro was the fist time I learned to appreciate automatically calculated and rendered "pivot tables"; I recall Borland (Quattro) referred to them as "Crosstabs". I loved that program.

Both. 20+ years.

It says favorite, so formulas. I enjoy formulas more but both have advantages (7 years)

Formulas only (4 years)

Both

Fresher

Both. 15+ years experience. The bigger and more complex the data, the more likely Pivot Tables will be used to provide "analysis" and an effective use of time for this discovery purpose.

Pivot Tables (11 yrs)

Formulas only if Pivot tables don't provide the desired results.

Formulas, sometimes pivot tables.

I use plans since the Lotus 1-2-3.

Both. 17 Years

I'm in love with (tables) and pivottables for data analysis.

For other tasks I use formulae.

(20+ years)

Both 5 years

If possible both or else any one of them. Your desired choice. Whatever published is useful to one.

Both. Almost 20 years.

Both 5years

Formulaes (6 years)

I prefer formula, pivot is very rigid (20+ years)

both & have 3 to 4 yrs exp.

Pivot Tables. My Excel Experience is about 10 Years.

Formulas (More than 5 Years)

Pivot Tables (More than 3 Years)

both..5 yeras

Hi Team,

I using both Pivot and Formula for Analysis. I have 5+ years of exposure to excel

More comfortable with Formula for last 14 years...but great to work with Pivot from last 3 years....

Formulas, 4 years.

Working most of the time with formulas. But am interested in developing on my basic knowledge of Pivot Tables.

Both (12 years)

Both and 6 years

Offcourse both (13 years),

using pivot tables since last year

Formulas (10 years)

Good day to All Excellers of the globe!,

I use formulas based designs - extensively. Here and there a pivot table. Data volumes at around 260 000 record up for simultaneous calculations is testing me with frustration big-time. Plots at this size causes frequent hang-ups.

Can I use Pivots to work with a slides gliding through the information without having to use Visual basic? (I'm not good at this as yet - no time to look at this - pressure). How do I change the analysis range details via a slider?

Using some "R" - very quick

Formulas for getting the data ready but then pivot tables - and more recently Powerpivot! (over 10 years...)

Pivot tables

10 years

Both, 5 years.

Both! - 3 years of experience

Both

7 Years

Formulas.

Formulas.

I have not yet cracked Pivot Tables.

Formulas. 20+ years

I have not yet cracked Pivot Tables.

Both!

Excel -18 years.

LOTUS 123 -12 years before that.

.....And I continue to learn more each day!!

Formulaes

I used both for different purposes and I have more than 15 years experience

One time analysis, Pivot

Re-occurring analysis . Formulas

6 Years

Both

Both (9 years)

for Data analysis Pivot and for Dashboard formulas.

Both 9 years for Data analysis Pivot and for Dashboard formulas.

Both - Pivot is my first choice

20+ years

Pivot tables. I never mastered formulas always looked too much like programming in Assembler or Fortran.

Both - it depends on the data and user requirements. Excel user +15 years

Both, Used for 15 years.

25 years using Visicalc / Lotus and Excel.

Focus mostly on formulas and really don't like Pivot Tables (sorry!).

Formulas 29 Years

Both Formulas and Pivot Tables (8 years)

both (8 years)

Both, but I prefer to use formulas (20 years)

Both (20 years)

Formulas and Pivot table in that order. I am using excel around 15 years.

Both (8years)

Formulas (7 Years)

If it is one time anaylsis then I prefer Pivot table and if it is continous analysis baed on dynamic data Formuals are preferred. Using excel from last 5 years.

Both [5.5 years]

Formulae

13 years.

Pivot Tables - 10years

Structure references - 3 years

Formulas - 12 years

12 years of experience...

both (7 years)

Pivot Tables (7 years)

Formulas (15 years)

Both. 15 years.

As always it comes back to the appropriate tool for the task. I was something of a latecomer to Pivot Tables, and my first thought will nearly always be formulae. Particularly useful when rolling out dashboard style reporting to non technical users.

that is - 'pivot tables are particularly useful when....'

tsk

Formulas (6 Years)

I believe both complement each other.

1. Pivot tables (in order to Analyse)

2. Excel formulas (to structure, find, link, etc)

The experience that i had learned is, when you manipulate information, you must structure the information as much as detail you need.

Experience: 6 years

Mexico

Accountant

Both.

6 years of experience

Both - 9 Years

If it's a quick time constrained report, pivots.

When am creating templates and such, formulas.

intermediate 7 years 🙂

Everything you can do with a Pivot can be done with a Formula. The converse is not true

It would be difficult to build a reasonably complex model in Excel without using formulas

However with a advent of Power Query and Power Pivot - the balance is slowing tilting towards formula free solutions is Excel

20 Years of Pivots + Formulas

Formulas 2 years

Dealing with large populations or sample sets, I almost always start with descriptive statistics and certain general formulas. Once I understand the distribution and general patterns, I use PivotTables to tease out more specific details, relationships, and trends than you can quickly find with broad summary statistics. (18 years)

formulas - 18 years.

Learnt about pivot tables at a training course in 1997, but couldn't get my head around it then.

Starting to use them a bit now, as so much easier now with Excel 2010

Also learnt about vlookup at the same course - I could immediately see an reason to use it, and 18 years later, vlookup is still my "go-to" formula. I do use lots of other formula's but vlookup is what I first think of (I have "what to look up, where to find it, what to bring back, false" ringing in my head)

Sally

Pivot Tables for exploratory data analysis

Formulas for forecasting data analysis

4 years

both (5Years)

Formulas; by far. 12 years.

Formulas (3 Years)

Most of the time I use Formulas but sometimes I use Pivots. Depends on data

Both,

10 years

Most of the time I use Formulas but sometimes - when the requested report is too complex - I use Pivot tables.

In general I prefer Formulas at least until the Pivot Tables will be capable to Auto-Refresh (without the need of VBA Event-Macro command such as: ActiveWorkbook.PivotCaches(1).Refresh

(I met many ashamed users who published a “false report”, which didn’t meet the source data, only because they forgot to "refresh" the PT after altering the Source data).

(Many years of experience - in fact, since "Lotus 1-2-3" for DOS)

----------------------------

Michael (Micky) Avidan

“Microsoft® Answers" - Wiki author & Forums Moderator

“Microsoft®” MVP – Excel (2009-2016)

ISRAEL