• A pivot table will take existing data and summarise it. For example if you have a list of salesmen and all of their individual sales taking up hundreds of rows, a pivot table will show each salesman's total sales of each product that he sells in a compact form. Charts can be based on pivot tables.
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  • "A pivot table is a data summarization tool found in data visualization programs such as spreadsheets (e.g. Microsoft Excel, Calc, Lotus 1-2-3). Among other functions, they can automatically sort, count, and total the data stored in one table or spreadsheet and create a second table displaying the summarized data. Pivot tables are also useful for quickly creating cross tabs. The user sets up and changes the summary's structure by dragging and dropping fields graphically. This "rotation" or pivoting of the summary table gives the concept its name." Source and further information:

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