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Grouping Excel Pivot Tables

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Grouping Pivot Table Data. How to Group so you don't get: Cannot Group that Selection

See Also: Excel Subtotals || Making the SUBTOTAL Function Dynamic || Bold Excel Subtotals Automatically || Sum Every Nth Cell || Count of Each Item in a List || Excel Pivot Tables

Grouping Fields
Grouping data in an Excel Pivot Table can at times be very frustrating as when you try to group, Excel can tell you that it "Cannot Group that Selection", is "Unable to Group" the particular field you are trying to group, or the result of the grouping is not what you expect.  Let's address these common problems and tell you the reasons as to why they occur. 

Cannot Group that Selection

The first problem "Cannot Group that Selection" is normally caused by one of two things.  The first, and most likely cause, is due to the fact that your Pivot Table data range includes blank cells within the field in which you are trying to group.  For example, if you had a column for dates for Date of Birth and within that column somewhere there was only one blank cell, Excel would not allow us to group by Date of Birth.  This is because Excel does not know what it should do with the one blank cell in regards to grouping with date cells.  Basically, what this means is your column must:

  1. Have no blank fields
  2. Your data range for your Pivot Table should not exceed past the last row of data.

Obviously, it will be quite common once you have created a Pivot Table of data that you would be adding new information to that table on an ongoing basis.  The temptation is always there to make your data range for your Pivot Table extend well past the last row of information in your table and thus include many blank cells.  Obviously you would do this so when you add more information to your table it would automatically be included in your Pivot Table the moment you refresh it. Extending the data range of your pivot table well beyond the last row in your table will not only cause grouping problems, but also force Excel to reserve excess memory for all of the blank cells you have included.  This, depending on how many extra rows you include, can end up increasing your file size by 100% or greater. The solution to this common problem is quite simple and comes in the form of using a dynamic named range .

The other common reason for not being able to group data is that you have both text and numeric data in the same field.  This one can be a little bit hard to spot at times, but just remember by default numbers are right aligned and text is left aligned.  Normally, simply going back to your data table, selecting the column which contains what you think is numeric data, changing the alignment to General under Format>Cells>Alignment will force Excel to return the numbers to their original state, although this will not change their format.  You may have to widen your column a little, to actually see whether your data is left aligned (text) or right aligned (numbers). For more details on dates & numbers seen as text see: Convert Dates || Excel Calendar for Valid Dates || Excel Date and Times || Converting Text Numbers to Real Numbers

Pivot Table Tutorial Links & Downloads

Excel Pivot Tables | Free Excel Pivot Table Tutorial From Microsoft | Pivot Table reports 101 | 25 easy Pivot Table Reports | About Using Microsoft Query to Retrieve External data | Create a PivotTable report | Tips for Working With Pivot Tables These pages and all content is the sole property of Microsoft.

Pivot Table Products

Pivot Table Assistant for Microsoft Excel | Pivot Table XL Stat | O2OLAP for Excel

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