Excel Dashboards and Reports: Customize Pivot Table Field Names

By Michael Alexander

The pivot tables you create in Excel for your dashboards and reports often need to be tweaked to get the look and feel you’re going for. Notice that every field in your pivot table has a name. The fields in the row, column, and filter areas inherit their names from the data labels in your source table.

The fields in the values area are given a name, such as Sum of Sales Amount.

Sometimes you might prefer the name Total Sales instead of the unattractive default name, like Sum of Sales Amount. In these situations, the ability to change your field names is handy. To change a field name, do the following:

  1. Right-click any value within the target field.

    For example, if you want to change the name of the field Sum of Sales Amount, you right-click any value under that field.

  2. Select Value Field Settings, as shown in this figure.

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    The Value Field Settings dialog box appears.

    Note that if you were changing the name of a field in the row or column area, this selection is Field Settings.

  3. Enter the new name in the Custom Name input box, shown in this figure.

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  4. Click OK to apply the change.

If you use the name of the data label used in your source table, you receive an error. For example, if you rename Sum of Sales Amount as Sales Amount, you get an error message because there’s already a Sales Amount field in the source data table. Well, this is kinda lame, especially if Sales Amount is exactly what you want to name the field in your pivot table.

To get around this, you can name the field and add a space to the end of the name. Excel considers Sales Amount (followed by a space) to be different from Sales Amount. This way you can use the name you want, and no one will notice it’s any different.