Excel Slicer Vs Filter (Comparison & Differences)

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When you get to deal with a huge spreadsheet in Excel, your work will be time consuming if you don’t have sufficient skills on filtering data. And to filter data, Excel’s slicer and filter features can help you in the most convenient way. But first of all, you have to know which one you should use, slicer or filter. We will get a detailed exploration on Excel slicer vs filter in this article.


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What Is Slicer?

An Excel slicer is a visual filtering tool that makes it easier and more engaging to filter data. Slicer is used in combination with tables, pivot tables, or pivot charts, which are effective tools for analyzing and summarizing large spreadsheets. An easy-to-use interface for filtering data according to predetermined criteria is provided by a slicer, which is developed from one or more fields in a table or pivot table or a pivot chart. Slicers can be particularly handy when you have a lot of data and need to swiftly filter and evaluate it depending on many factors. Without having to manually filter and organize your data, they make it simple to study your data and spot trends and patterns.


What Is Filter?

Excel’s filter feature is used to sort, search and filter data and display them based on specific criteria. Those criteria can be based on numbers, texts, dates, or any other factors. You can even use this feature to apply more advanced filtering choices such as sorting data in ascending or descending order and filtering data based on a range of values that are set as a criterion.


Slicer Vs Filter- Major Differences

Both Excel Slicer and Filter are effective tools for data analysis, but they have some key differences. The major differences between Slicer and Filter are listed below.

Parameters Slicer Filter
Application Tables, PivotTables, and PivotCharts are the applications for which Slicer is developed. With the filter feature, any type of data in Excel can be filtered.
User Interface Slicer offers a more aesthetically pleasing and engaging interface for data filtering. Filter applies filters using a drop-down menu or dialog box.
Criteria Slicer allows filtering based on multiple criteria. Filter feature can filter based on a single criterion one at a time.
Customization Lots of formatting options are available such as modifying slicer header, changing layout colors, etc. Limited customization features.
Compatibility Slicer is not compatible with the versions before 2010. It was first introduced in Microsoft Excel 2010. Filter feature is available in all versions of Microsoft Excel.
Visibility Easier to understand. Can give you a slight dizziness when it comes to a large spreadsheet.

Several Practical Examples of Excel Slicer vs Filter

We will be using the following dataset as an example to illustrate the differences between Excel slicer and filter in an effective way. The dataset represents some employees’ records of a company.

Dataset of Employee Record


1. Slicer vs Filter in Excel Table

The difference between the slicer and filter can be shown in an Excel table.

📌 Steps:

  • First, let’s create a table. Select cell range B4:E19.
  • Then from the toolbar, go to the Insert tab and simply click on Table.

Creating table from Insert tab after selecting the data range

  • A dialog box titled Create Table will appear. Mark the My table has headers option and click on OK.

Marking “My table has headers” box from the “Create Table” dialog box

Your table is now created. Suppose, we want to filter those data related to the Marketing and Executive departments and related to Bavaria and Hessen states as well. We will do that using both slicer and filter features so that you can figure out which one suits you more.

  • First, let’s use the filter feature from the table we just created.
  • Click on the arrow down icon beside the Department header, then unmark the (Select All) box.

Unmarking the Select All option for filtering data

  • Now, mark the Marketing and Executive box and click on OK.

Marking desired filter options

  • After that, click on the arrow down icon beside the State header.
  • Unmark the (Select All) box and mark the Bavaria and Hessen box. Click on OK. 

Selecting desired States in the Filter section

  • Finally, you will see the desired filtered data which we have done using the Filter feature.

Filtered data after using filter feature

Now, if we want to do the same using the slicer feature, we have to create a slicer first.

  • First, select range B4:E19, go to the Insert tab, click on the Filters drop-down menu, and select Slicer.

Inserting slicer from the Insert tab at the toolbar

  • A new window tilted Insert Slicers will appear on your worksheet. Mark the State and Department box, then click on OK.

Marking State and department options in Slicer

  • After that, you will see two slicers on your spreadsheet as shown below. One is titled State and the other one is titled Department.

Slicer appeared on worksheet

  • First, activate the Multi-select option beside the titles of slicers.
  • Select Bavaria and Hessen from the State slicer and Executive and Marketing from the Department slicer.
  • Finally, you will get the desired filtered data. This time we have used the Excel slicer feature.

Selecting buttons from the slicers and the desired output appeared


2. Excel PivotTable to Explain the Difference Between Slicer and Filter

Excel PivotTable gives the opportunity to filter data using both slicer and filter features.

📌 Steps:

  • Let’s create a pivot table from our dataset.
  • Select cell range B4:E19, then from the toolbar select Insert tab and simply click on PivotTable.

Creating pivot table from the toolbars’ insert tab

  • Following this, you will be asked to choose where you want to place the pivot table. Here we set the pivot table within the same worksheet.
  • Mark the Existing Worksheet from the “PivotTable from table or range” dialog box.
  • We have selected cell G4 as the Location to set the Pivot table. Then, click on OK.

Selecting range from the “PivotTable from table or range” dialog box

  • A sidebar tilted PivotTable Fields will then appear as follows.

PivotTable Fields sidebar appeared

  • Hold and drag the Employee Name header to the Rows field, State and Department header to the Filters section, and Salary header to the Values field.

Dragging headers to relevant fields

  • The pivot table will be as follows.

PivotTable is created

Now, we want to filter data of the Executive department and of Hessen state. We will do this filtering using both slicer and filter features. First, we will use the filter feature from the created pivot table.

  • Select the arrow down icon beside the State header which is basically in cell H1 here.
  • Mark the Select Multiple Items box, then unmark the (All) box.
  • After that, mark the Hessen box and click on OK.

Selecting desired option from the filter section

  • You will see filtered data from Hessen state then.

Filtered data of Hessen state

  • Now, to filter data of the Executive department, select the arrow down icon beside the Department header.
  • Mark the Select Multiple Items box.
  • Unmark the (All) box.
  • Select Executive and click on OK.

Selecting desired option from the Department section

  • Finally, you have filtered the desired data using the filter feature from your created pivot table. The output will be as shown below.

Filtered data of Hessen state and executive department

  • Now, to do the same filtering using Excel slicer, you gotta put some slicers within your dataset.
  • Just select anything from your pivot table. Here, we have selected the State header. This is required for the slicer to detect the pivot table.
  • At the toolbar, go to the Insert tab, then click on the Filters drop-down menu and select Slices.

Inserting slicer from the Insert tab at the toolbar

  • From the Insert Slicers dialog box, mark the State and Department box, and click on OK.

Marking State and Department box from the Insert Slicers

  • Now, select Hessen from the State slicer and select Executive from the Department slicer.
  • Finally, you will see the filtered data as shown below.

Final output after using selecting Hessen and Executive buttons


3. Difference of Slicer and Filter in Excel PivotChart

Excel PivotChart is a great approach to show the differences between Excel slicer and filter. We will be using the below-modified dataset to clarify the differences between slicer and filter.

Dataset to represent the Excel slicer vs filter in Excel pivot chart

  • To create a pivot chart, first, select the data range B4:E19.
  • Then go to the Insert tab and click on PivotChart.

Inserting pivot chart from insert tab after selecting data range

  • Following this, you will be asked to choose where you want the pivot chart to be placed. Here we will set the pivot table within the same worksheet.
  • Mark the Existing Worksheet from the “Create PivotChart” dialog box.
  • We have selected cell G5 as the Location to set the PivotChart. Then, click on OK.

Selecting location of pivot chart

  • A sidebar tilted PivotChart Fields will appear as follows.

PivotChart fields as sidebar appeared on worksheet

  • Hold and drag the Sales Person header to the Legend (Series) field, Region header to the Axis (Categories) section, and Total Sales header to the Values field.

Dragging headers to relevant fields in pivot chart fields sidebar

  • The pivot chart will be created as follows.

Pivot chart created

  • Now, let’s use the filter option from this pivot chart.
  • Suppose, we just want to filter the data from the North region in the chart.
  • Click on the Region drop-down menu at the bottom-left of your chart.
  • Unmark the (Select All) box.
  • Mark the North box, then click on OK.

Use filter feature from the pivot chart

  • Now, the chart will show the info of the North region only.

Final output after using the filter feature from the pivot chart

  • To filter within the pivot chart using the slicer, first select the pivot chart and go to Insert tab.
  • Select the Filters drop-down menu and click on Slicer.

Inserting slicer from the insert tab after selecting the pivot chart

  • Mark the Region box from the Insert Slicers dialog bar, then click on OK.

Marking Region box from the Insert Slicers dialog box

  • Slicer is now created as follows. You can now filter data within the chart using this slicer.

Slicer created and appeared on worksheet

  • Again, we just want to filter the data from the North region in the chart.
  • Simply select the North option from the slicer.
  • The chart will show data from the North region only as follows.

Using slicer filter data within the pivot chart


Excel Slicer Vs Filter: Advantages and Disadvantages

The major advantages and disadvantages of Excel slicer and filter can be measured based on various indicators. Some of them are described below.


Application of Slicer and Filter

Slicer

To insert a slicer, you need to create a table or a pivot table from a range as shown previously.

Filter

To avail filter feature, you don’t need to create any table or pivot table. This is a default feature in Excel. Moreover, you will get the opportunity to avail of this feature in Excel Table, PivotTable, and PivotChart. You can simply follow the steps below to avail Filter feature.

  • Select any header cell.
  • Go to the Home tab in the toolbar.
  • Click on the Editing drop-down menu.
  • Select Filter from Sort & Filter section.

Setting up the Filter feature within the data range

  • Following this will avail the filter feature with your dataset.

Data showing that the filter feature is now enabled


Filtering Options in Excel

Slicer:

Limited filtering options. It doesn’t have many filtering options that are available in Excel’s Filter feature.

Filter

Lots of filtering options are available in the filter feature that is used in regular life

Image showing default options of Filter


User Interface of Slicer and Filter in Excel

Aesthetic representations are better with a slicer than a filter. Slicer offers a more aesthetically pleasing and engaging interface for data filtering while the filter feature applies filters using a drop-down menu or dialog box.

Visual representation of filter feature and slicer feature


Customization of Slicer

The slicer can be customized while the filter can not. You can change the color of your slicer, rearrange the buttons along multiple columns, change the dimensions of the buttons, change the size of your slicer, even you can change the header of your slicer as well.

Slicer customization options at the slicer tab


How to Format Excel Slicer

After you insert a slicer in your worksheet, you can customize that slicer in various ways.


1. Changing Colors

  • After inserting the slicer, you will find a new tab “Slicer” in the toolbar.

New tab “Slicer” after inserting slicer on the worksheet

  • There you will see the Slicer Styles section. From there, you can easily change the colors of your slicers.

Changing colors of slicers from the slicer tab


2. Adding Multiple Columns

You can rearrange the buttons in your slicer along multiple columns as well.

  • In the Slicer tab, you will see the Buttons section. From there, you can modify the column numbers of your slicer.

Image showing multiple column adding option at the slicer tab

  • Suppose, we want to create 3 columns within our slicer. Simply type 3 in the Columns box.
  • And the output will be as follows.

Adding 3 columns of buttons in the slicer


3. Modifying Buttons

You can even modify the dimension of the buttons in a slicer from the Buttons section of the Slicer tabs.

Image showing buttons dimension changing option at the slicer tab

  • What we want is to make the size of the button larger for better visualization.
  • Let’s set the Height to 0.5 inches and the Width to 2 inches.
  • And now you can see that the buttons are larger in size than before.

Changing dimensions of the buttons


4. Slicer Settings

Slicer settings in Excel let you modify the look and functionality of these visual tools for filtering data in Excel Table, PivotTable, or PivotChart.

  • Right-click on your slicer. You will find the Slicer Settings option, click on that option.

Selecting slicer settings option after right-clicking on the slicer

  • A new dialog box titled “Slicer Settings” will appear on your screen.

Slicer settings dialog box appeared on the screen

You can modify the name, title, and many more things from that dialog box.

  • Set the name of our slicer as Regions, the header as Regions as well.
  • Sort the buttons within the slicer in Descending order and hide items with no data.
  • Finally, click on OK.

Exploring features from the slicer settings dialog box

  • And the slicer will be as follows.

Final output after using the slicer settings option


Frequently Asked Questions

  • Which is better- slicer or filter?

Slicers are more beneficial when you want to provide users the option to interactively explore data by filtering it in real-time depending on their individual needs. Filters are handy when you want to limit the data presented in a visualization to a specified subset based on predefined criteria. Rest the choice is yours.

  • Is a slicer a filter in Excel?

Yes, a slicer is a kind of filter in Excel that lets you customize the data in an Excel pivot table, pivot chart, or Excel table. A slicer displays a list of values that you may pick or deselect in order to give a visual interface for filtering data.

  • Which is faster slicer or filter?

Slicers and filters in Excel can both process data rapidly and effectively in general, therefore there is often not much of a performance difference between them. The size, complexity, and processing speed of your computer are just a few of the variables that might affect how quickly you can filter data using an Excel slicer or filter. However, the performance of slicers and filters has been enhanced to effectively handle huge amounts of data.

  • Do slicers slow down Excel?

Excel slicers are designed to be quick and effective, your spreadsheet’s performance won’t often be severely slowed by using them. However, the effect of slicers on the functionality of your Excel workbook might vary depending on a number of variables, including the volume and complexity of the data you gather, the number of slicers you have, and the computer’s rate of processing.

  • Why are slicers better than report filters?

In some situations, slicers in Excel are preferable to report filters due to their many benefits. Slicers give Excel users a more dynamic and user-friendly approach to filter data. They give a more user-friendly interface, let users simultaneously filter data from various fields, and may be used to build aesthetically beautiful dashboards. Although report filters can offer advantages as well, slicers are frequently more effective in many cases.


Conclusion

When it comes to sorting, filtering, and organizing data, Excel slicer, and filter are both highly efficient tools. Slicer provides a more user-friendly and easy-to-use interface for exploring data in a table of values or chart than Filter does, despite the latter being more versatile and capable of working with any range of data. You may select the best tool for your specific data analysis needs by being aware of the advantages and disadvantages of each one. Hope, you got a clear understanding of Excel slicer vs filter. Visit our site ExcelDemy to explore more relevant articles.

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Raiyan Zaman Adrey
Raiyan Zaman Adrey

Hello, this is Raiyan Zaman Adrey, completed BSc in Civil Engineering from Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology. I have always tried to explore more for whatever I sought most. In most of my daily work, I found Excel as a must thing to deal with. And ExcelDemy is a platform that always helped me with my tasks as well. I am glad to be a part of this amazing journey of ExcelDemy.

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