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How to rename fields in a pivot table

When you add a field to a pivot table, the name of field in the pivot table comes from the column name in the source data. However, you can manually change the name to almost anything you like.

Let’s take a look.

Here we have a blank pivot table. Let’s add the product field and total sales field. Notice that value fields are automatically renamed to show the type of calculation being used on the field.  In this case, we get Sum of Total Sales. If we change calculation to Count, the field is automatically renamed to Count of Total Sales.

However, we can rename the field as we like. For example, we can rename this field to Sales.  For value fields, the main restriction is that you can’t use any field names already in the source data. For example, if we try to rename the field to Total Sales, we get a warning that the pivot table field name already exists.

If you really want to name a value field to the same name that appears in the source data, you can add a space character to the end of the field name. Visually, the field looks the same, and Excel won’t complain about duplicate field names.

When you rename field names, you may want to confirm the original name from the source data. You can do this by accessing the Field Settings for the field in question. Either right click the field and choose Value field settings, or click Field Settings on the Options Tab of the PivotTable Tools ribbon. Here you can see the original field name.

In contrast to value fields, Row and Column label field names will be identical to the name in the field list. In fact, they are linked, as we’ll see in a minute.

To illustrate how this works, let’s add Category as a row  label and Region as a Column label, then rename the fields.

When you add a field as a row or column label, you’ll see the same name appear in the Pivot table. You’re free to type over the name directly in the pivot table.

You can also use the Field Setting dialog box to rename the field.

When you rename fields used in Rows or Columns, the name also changes in the field list. In fact, even if you remove the field and refresh the pivot  table, the new name will stick around.

To revert to the original name, re-enter the original field name manually. Alternately, you can clear the pivot table and start again.


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Dave Bruns

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