How to Format an Excel Pivot Table (The Complete Guide)


1. Formatting Numbers in Pivot Tables


  • To change the data format, right-click any value >> choose Number Format from the shortcut menu.

Number formatting in Pivot table

  • Use the Format Cells dialog box to change the number format of your pivot data.

Format Cells dialog box

  • All the cells of the group will be formatted as accounting.

Accounting formatting to number

2. Pivot Table Designs

There are several built-in styles that you can apply to your pivot table.

  • Select any cell in your pivot table and then choose Design > PivotTable Styles to select a style.

Excel pivot table formatting with custom design

2.1 More Pivot Table Designs

  • If these styles don’t fulfill your purpose, you can choose more styles by clicking the following button.

More styles

  • You will find many built-in styles for you to use in your pivot tables.

Pivot table style selection

2.2 Tuning Pivot Table Styles

You can fine-tune your styles using controls in the Design > PivotTable Style Options group.

Portable style option

2.3 Layout Controls in Excel Pivot Tables

You can also use the controls from the Design > Layout group to control various elements in your pivot table. You can use any of the following controls:

  • Subtotals: Using this control, you can add/ hide subtotals and choose where to display them (above or below the data).

Show subtotals in pivot table

  • Grand Totals: Using this control, you can choose which types, if any, to display.
  • Report Layout: There are three report layouts. Using this control, you can choose any of the three different layout styles (compact, outline, or tabular). You can also choose to hide/active repeating labels.

Compact form of Pivot Table Layout

  • Blank Row: You can add a blank row between items to improve readability.

Blank row after each item

3. Field Controls of Pivot Tables

The PivotTable Analyze > Show group contains more options that affect the appearance of your pivot table. For example, you use the Show +/- Button to toggle the display of +/- sign in expandable items.

Show field button

4. PivotTable Options Dialog Box


  • To display this dialog box, choose PivotTable Analyze > Options (in the PivotTable section) > Options.
  • Or you can right-click any cell in the pivot table and choose PivotTable Options from the shortcut menu.

Activate Pivot Table options

  • The PivotTable Options dialog box will be visible.

Experimenting with styling features is the best way to become familiar with all these layout and formatting options.

5. Copying a Pivot Table Format


  • Select the Pivot Table >> right-click on the mouse >> select copy from the menu.

Copy pivot table formatting

Select a range in your existing or new worksheet where you want to paste your data. You can paste the data directly into the available paste option or use the paste special feature.

  • Select any cell >> Right-click on the mouse >> Choose Paste Special.

Paste Special option

  • In the Paste Special feature, click on the paste option that you want to use and click OK. Here, I selected All from Paste.

  • Excel has copied the Pivot table data with all formatting.

Pivot table copied

6. Locking Pivot Table Format


  • Select the entire pivot table and right-click your mouse >> click the Format Cells option.

Format cells option in context menu

  • In the protection option of the Format Cells, Uncheck the Locked option and press OK.

Locking Cells to secure pivot table formatting

  • In the Review Tab on top, click on the Protect Sheet
  • Put a tick mark on the Select unlocked cells and set a password.

  • A dialogue box will appear whenever you want to edit the pivot table, as in the picture below.

Warning not to alter pivot table formatting

  • If you want to unlock the protected cells, click the Review on top and then click on the Unprotect Sheet.
  • It will ask for a password (if you set one). Type the password. You will see the sheet is unlocked now.

7. Pivot Table Column Side by Side in Excel


  • Select a cell in Pivot Table >> go to the Design tab >> click the dropdown of Report Layout >> select Show in Tabular Form.

Report layout in tabular form

Your Pivot Table will rearrange itself by putting the columns side by side.

Pivot table column side by side

8. Pivot Table Formatting Not Preserved in Excel

Sometimes, an unwanted situation like cell formatting in Pivot Table is not preserved and keeps changing, which may bother you. You may have accidentally changed a configuration, which you need to fix now.

  • Right-click on a cell in the Pivot Table >> Select Pivot Table Options from the menu list.

Pivot table options

  • The Pivot Table Options dialog box will appear.
  • Put a checkmark on Preserve cell formatting on update field if not checked.
  • Click OK.

Preserve cell formatting on update


Download the Practice Workbook

You can download the practice book from the link below.

Pivot Table Formatting: Knowledge Hub

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Kawser Ahmed
Kawser Ahmed

Kawser Ahmed is a Microsoft Excel Expert, Udemy Course Instructor, Data Analyst, Finance professional, and Chief Editor of ExcelDemy. He is the founder and CEO of SOFTEKO (a software and content marketing company). He has a B.Sc in Electrical and Electronics Engineering. As a Udemy instructor, he offers 8 acclaimed Excel courses, one selected for Udemy Business. A devoted MS Excel enthusiast, Kawser has contributed over 200 articles and reviewed thousands more. His expertise extends to Data Analysis,... Read Full Bio

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