Contextures

Excel Pivot Table -- GetPivotData

To extract data from a cell in a pivot table, use the Excel GetPivotData function, which is specially designed to extract data from a pivot table.

GetPivotData Formula

If you're creating a formula in Excel, and you click on a pivot table value, Excel might create a GetPivotData formula for you, automatically, instead of a normal cell reference.

For example, in the screen shot below, I typed an equal sign in cell A9. Next, I clicked on cell B5, in the pivot table. That cell has the total sales amount for the File Folders product.

  • Usually, when you click on a cell, Excel creates a simple reference with the cell address:
    • =B5
  • However, because B5 is a pivot table value, Excel automaticallythis GetPivotData formula:
    • =GETPIVOTDATA("Total",$A$3,"Product","File Folders")

If you're not familiar with the GetPivotData function, that long formula is not what you expected, and it can be confusing! In the following sections, you'll see:

  • advantages and disadvantages (pros and cons) to using GetPivotData
  • how to stop those long GetPivotData formulas from appearing
  • GetPivotData examples and troubleshooting

formula created automatically

GetPivotData Pros and Cons

There are advantages and disadvantages (pros and cons) to using GetPivotData, so consider these points, before you decide to use a simple cell reference, instead of a GetPivotData formula.

GetPivotData Advantages

The GetPivotData function is a highly efficient way to get specific data from a pivot table. Here are a few of its advantages.

  • Excel builds formula automatically, based on pivot table cell that was clicked.
  • formula shows correct result, even if pivot table layout changes - has pivot field and pivot item names
  • formula can be modified, to make it more flexible

GetPivotData Disadvantages

The GetPivotData function can cause problems sometimes. Here are a few of its disadvantages.

  • formula is long and confusing, compared to a simple cell reference
  • default formula is specific to the cell that was clicked -- pivot field and pivot item names
  • when you drag the formula down to rows below, same result shows in each row
  • if you try to modify GetPivotData formula, it could return errors

Using Cell References For Data Field error

When to Use GetPivotData

If you can't decide when to use GetPivotData, these guidelines might help you.

When should you use GetPivotData?

  • you want to refer to a specific value in the pivot table, based on it pivot field and pivot item names
  • the pivot table layout might change, but the value in the formula will remain in the pivot table
  • you know how to modify the GetPivotData formula, to change specific names to cell references

When is a simple formula better?

  • you want to do a quick calculation, based on a few pivot table numbers
  • you need to copy the formula down to rows below, and have the results change in each row
  • you don't know how to modify the GetPivotData formula with cell references

Simple Reference to Pivot Cell

If you're creating a formula in Excel, and you click on a pivot table value, Excel might create a GetPivotData formula for you, automatically, instead of a normal cell reference.

  • You can turn the GetPivotData feature off, as described in the section below
  • Or, follow these steps, to create a simple cell reference to a pivot table value

Get a Simple Cell Reference

To get a simple cell reference to a pivot table value cell:

  • If Excel has already created a GetPivotData function in your formula, delete that part of your formula
  • Instead of clicking on the pivot table cell, type its cell address, e.g. : =B5

simple cell reference to pivot table value

Turn Off Generate GetPivotData

By default, when you first use Excel, the Generate GetPivotData setting is turned on. If you prefer, you can turn that setting off, so the GetPivotData formulas are not created automatically.

  • NOTE: This is an application-level setting in Excel, and turns the Generate GetPivotData setting for ALL workbooks, not just the active workbook.

To see the steps for turning off the Generate GetPivotData in Excel 2007 and later, you can watch this short video tutorial.

There are written steps below the video, to use the Ribbon command, or the Excel Options window.

Use Ribbon Command

In Excel 2007 and later, you can turn off the Generate GetPivotData command by using a command in the Excel Ribbon.

NOTE: This will affect ALL Excel workbooks, not just the active workbook

  1. Select any cell in a pivot table.
  2. On the Ribbon, click the PivotTable Analyze tab
    • Or, under PivotTable Tools, click the Options tab
  3. At the left click the arrow on the PivotTable command
  4. Next, click the drop down arrow for Options
  5. Click the Generate GetPivotData command, to turn the feature off or on.

Generate GetPivotData command

Change Excel Options

Another way to turn the Generate GetPivotData setting on or off is with the Excel Options.

Follow these steps to change the setting:

NOTE: This will affect ALL Excel workbooks, not just the active workbook

  • At the top left of the Excel window, click the File tab
  • In the list at the left, click Options (or click More, then click Options)
  • In the Excel Options window, at the left, click the Formulas category
  • Scroll down to the Working with formulas section
  • To turn off GetPivotData, remove the check mark for this option:
  • Use GetPivotData functions for PivotTable references
  • Click OK, to close the Options window

Excel options use GetPivotData functions

Using Cell References in GetPivotData

In a GetPivotData formula, you refer to the pivot table, and the field(s) and item(s) that you want the data for. For example, this formula gets the Total, from the pivot table in $A$3, for the Product field, and the Paper item.

=GETPIVOTDATA("Total",$A$3,"Product","Paper")

To make a GetPivotData formula more flexible, you can refer to worksheet cells, instead of typing item or field names in the GetPivotData arguments.

Using the same example, we can type "Paper" in cell E2. Then, change the formula in cell E3, so refers to cell E2, instead of typing "Paper" in the formula.

=GETPIVOTDATA("Total",$A$3,"Product", E2)

The formula returns the total for the Paper product.go to top

Using Cell References in GetPivotData

Using Cell References For Data Field

Cell references work well for the pivot fields and pivot items, but can cause problems if you try to refer to a data field.

In this example, cell E2 contains the word "Qty", and you'd like to refer to that cell, instead of having "Qty" in the GetPivotData formula.

Using Cell References For Data Field

However, if you change the first argument, data_field, to a reference to cell E2, the result is a #REF! error

  =GETPIVOTDATA(E2,$A$3,"Product","Paper")

Using Cell References For Data Field error

Add an Empty String

To fix this problem, you can concatenate an empty string ( "" ) at the beginning or end of the cell reference:

 =GETPIVOTDATA(E2&"",$A$3,"Product","Paper")

Add an Empty String

With this simple change to the formula, it returns the correct result.

Using Dates in GetPivotData

If you use dates in a GetPivotData formula, you might get errors, even if the date is shown in the pivot table. For example, in the formula shown below, there is a reference to the date "1/1/13", and the pivot table shows the quantity sold on that date. However, the formula result in cell E4 is a #REF! error.

=GETPIVOTDATA("Quantity",$B$3,"OrderDate","1/1/13")

Using Dates in GetPivotData

To prevent errors for dates, you can use one of the following methods:

-- Match the pivot table's date format

-- Use the DATEVALUE function

-- Use the DATE function

-- Refer to a cell with a valid date

-- Use the TEXT function

Match the Date and Date Format

To get the correct results when typing a date in the GetPivotData formula, use the same date format that is shown in the pivot table.

In cell E4, the formula uses the date format that's in the pivot table -- dd/mmm/yy -- and the result is the correct quantity for that date:

=GETPIVOTDATA("Quantity",$B$3,"OrderDate","01/Jan/13")

Match the Date and Date Format

Use the DATEVALUE Function

Instead of just typing the date in the formula, add the DATEVALUE function to the date.

In cell E4, the date is entered within the DATEVALUE function -- and the result is the correct quantity for that date:

=GETPIVOTDATA("Quantity",$B$3,"OrderDate",DATEVALUE("1/1/13"))

Use the DATEVALUE Function

Use the DATE Function

Instead of just typing the date in the formula, use the DATE function to create the date.

In cell E4, the date is created within the DATE function -- and the result is the correct quantity for that date:

=GETPIVOTDATA("Quantity",$B$3,"OrderDate",DATE(2013,1,1))

Use the DATE Function

Refer to a Cell With a Date

Instead of typing the date in the formula, you can refer to a cell that contains a valid date, in any format recognized as a date by Excel.

In cell E4, the formula refers to the date in cell E2 -- and the result is the correct quantity for that date:

=GETPIVOTDATA("Quantity",$B$3,"OrderDate",E2)

Refer to a Cell With a Date

Use the TEXT Function

Instead of just typing the date in the formula, add the TEXT function to the date.

In cell E2, the date is entered as text. The formula in cell E4 uses the TEXT function with the date format of "d-mmm":

=GETPIVOTDATA("Qty",$B$3,"Date",TEXT(E2,"d-mmm"))

Thanks to Leonid Koyfman for this tip

GetPivotDate with TEXT function

Video: Dates in GetPivotData Formula

To see the steps for using dates in a GetPivotData formula, please watch this short video.

Video: Select Specific Pivot Table in GetPivotData

If you have multiple copies of a pivot table in a workbook, on different sheets, you can use GETPIVOTDATA to pull an amount from a specific pivot table. Watch this video to see the steps, and the written instructions are below the video.

Select Specific Pivot Table in GetPivotData

If you have multiple copies of a pivot table in a workbook, on different sheets, you can use GETPIVOTDATA to pull an amount from a specific pivot table.

In this example, there are 3 pivot tables:

  • East
  • North
  • All

The pivot tables are set up using consistent names and locations:

  • Each sheet name begins with "PT_", followed by the region description.
  • Each pivot table body range begins in cell B4

getpivotdata specific sheet setup

On another sheet in the workbook, a data validation drop down list is added in cell C6, showing all the regions, which are also used in the sheet names.

getpivotdata specific sheet setup

Create the Formula

The GETPIVOTDATA formula will be entered in cell D6, so the first step will be to create a simple formula there:

  1. In cell C6, select East from the drop down list
  2. Select cell D6, and type an equal sign
  3. Click on the PT_East sheet
  4. Click on the Grand Total cell, and press the Enter key

There is a GETPIVOTDATA formula in the cell, and the cell displays the total sales for the East region.

getpivotdata formula start

The formula refers to the Total Price field, and to cell B4 on the PT_East sheet.

=GETPIVOTDATA("TotalPrice",PT_East!$B$4)

Generalize the Sheet Reference

Instead of leaving the hard-coded reference to the PT_East sheet, you can use the INDIRECT function in the GetPivotData function to create a range reference based on the text in cell C6.

The INDIRECT function requires one argument, INDIRECT(ref_text) and returns the range specified by the reference text argument.

Each reference in this workbook will begin with "PT_", followed by the range description in cell C6, and ending with "!$B$4". So, in this case, the formula will be:

INDIRECT("PT_" & C6 & "!$B$4")

Replace the Sheet Reference

The final step is to replace the current sheet reference in the GETPIVOTDATA formula, with the INDIRECT formula:

=GETPIVOTDATA("TotalPrice",PT_East!$B$4)

changes to:

=GETPIVOTDATA("TotalPrice",INDIRECT("PT_" & C6 & "!$B$4"))

Now, when you change the region in cell C6, the total amount changes in cell D6

getpivotdata specific sheet change

GetPivotData with Custom Subtotals

With a default subtotal, the GetPivotData function works well, and returns the correct result. In the screen shot below, an equal sign was typed in cell B1, and then the Bars subtotal amount was clicked.

A GetPivotData formula was automatically created, and it returns the quantity of Bars sold.

=GETPIVOTDATA("Quantity",$A$3,"Category","Bars")

getpivotdata subtotal

However, if the subtotal is a custom function, instead of the default function, the GetPivotData formula might show an error.

In the screen shot below, the we right-clicked on the Bars Total label, and clicked Field Settings. Then, Custom was selected for Subtotals, and Sum and Average selected.

set custom subtotal

Now, if you type and equal sign and click on either of the Bars subtotal cells, the result is a #REF! error. The GetPivotData formula looks different too, with square brackets in it.

=GETPIVOTDATA($A$3,"Category[Bars;Data,Sum]")

getpivotdata error with custom subtotal

To fix the #REF! error, you can remove the "Data," from the GetPivotData formula. In this example, the corrected formula is:

=GETPIVOTDATA($A$3,"Category[Bars;Sum]")

With that simple change to the formula, the correct result is returned.

getpivotdata formula with custom subtotal

Top or Bottom Subtotals

The GetPivotData formulas have different requirements, depending on the location and type of the Subtotals.

There are two GetPivotData formula types:

  • Normal -- =GETPIVOTDATA("Quantity",$A$3,"Category","Bars")
  • [List] ----- =GETPIVOTDATA($A$3,"Category[Bars;Sum]")

This table summarizes where the formula types can be used, with subtotals shown at the top or bottom, and how many subtotals are allowed in each location.

getpivotdata types

Get the Sample File

Download the zipped sample file for this tutorial. The file is in xlsx format, and does not contain macros

More Pivot Table Resources

FAQs - Pivot Tables

Pivot Table Introduction

Grouping Data

Multiple Consolidation Ranges

Running Totals

Summary Functions

Clear Old Items in Pivot Table

Last updated: January 10, 2022 3:31 PM