Pivot tables and crosstabs are ways to display and analyze sets of data. Both are similar to each other, with pivot tables having just a few added features.

Pivot tables and crosstabs present data in tabular format, with rows and columns displaying certain data. This data can be aggregated as a sum, count, max, min, or average if desired. These tools allow the user to easily recognize trends, see relationships between their data, and access information quickly and efficiently.

The Differences Between Pivot Tables and Crosstabs

Pivot tables and crosstabs are nearly identical in form, and the terms are often used interchangeably. However, pivot tables present some added benefits that regular crosstabs do not.

  • Pivot tables allow the user to create additional reports on the spot by easily rearranging, adding, counting, and deleting certain data entries.
  • Pivot tables work well with hierarchal organization where data sets can be drilled into to reveal more information. For example, when viewing the total sales at a store by month, you can drill further into the data and see the sales data on individual products for each month. With a basic crosstab, you would have to go back to the program and create a separate crosstab with the information on individual products.
  • Pivot tables let the user filter through their data, add or remove custom fields, and change the appearance of their report.

When They Are Most Effective

Pivot tables and crosstabs work well with any sized data set. They both present quick and efficient ways to analyze and summarize data. They are most useful with larger sets of data because the more data there is, the more difficult it becomes to recognize relationships without pivot/crosstabs or other visualization tools.