Why Would You Use a Pivot Chart in Excel?

By Stephen L. Nelson, E. C. Nelson

When would you or should you use a pivot chart in Excel? Well, the correct answer to this question is, “Heck, most of the time you won’t use a pivot chart. You’ll use a pivot table instead.”

Pivot charts, in fact, work only in certain situations: Specifically, pivot charts work when you have only a limited number of rows in your cross-tabulation. Say, less than half a dozen rows. And pivot charts work when it makes sense to show information visually, such as in a bar chart.

These two factors mean that for many cross-tabulations, you won’t use pivot charts. In some cases, for example, a pivot chart won’t be legible because the underlying cross-tabulation will have too many rows. In other cases, a pivot chart won’t make sense because its information doesn’t become more understandable when presented visually.