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Getting Started with Power Pivot – Part I

Headshot of article author Kasper de Jonge

Welcome back to our Getting Started with Excel and Power BI Series.

In our previous blog posts we explored how to bring data into Excel through Power Query (Part I and Part II). In this blog post we will take that data and prepare it for analyzing and visualizing in Excel.

To follow this tutorial you will need:

  1. Excel 2013

In order for us to do this we need to load the data into the Excel Data Model. Loading data into the Excel Data Model allows you to use data in a way previously impossible in Excel. It allows you to create analytics and visualizations using multiple tables without writing a single VLOOKUP, load data that has more than 1.000.000 rows and add advanced business logic to your solution with Data Analysis Expressions (DAX) formulas.

To load the data into the Excel Data Model you have three different methods, to load any table from Power Query into the Data Model you can select “Load to Data Model” and this will bring the data into the model. Besides Power Query there are several other ways to add data to the Data Model, you can use Excel’s get external data features or even directly import in Power Pivot. All these methods end up with the same result: one or more tables in the Data Model. In many cases this is enough to get started with your first Excel PivotTable.

In this blog post we will take a look how to do analytics on top of some sales data that I loaded into the Data Model using Power Query. I imported invoice, date and a geography tables. To create my first PivotTable on top of this data I can get started immediately as Power Query already added my tables to the Data Model. Select Insert, PivotTable and selecting the Data Model as the connection. This creates a PivotTable with three tables in the Field list:

I now open the Invoice table and select the RevenueAmount field.

This will automatically add this field to the values area of the PivotTable and aggregate the values in the column in the PivotTable by using a SUM:


Just the Sum of RevenueAmount by itself is not very valuable, I want to see this value for each region so I again check the checkbox in front of Region field in the PoliticalGeography table. This automatically adds this fields to the PivotTable on Rows:


Unfortunately we see something is wrong here, the same value is repeated for each Region. Luckily Excel knows what is wrong and warns us in the Field list:


To related fields from two different tables I can create a relationship in the model. I click Create to create this relationship. I then select the two fields between the two tables that I can use to create the relationship:


This now automatically allows combine data from two different tables into a single PivotTable without having to do anything else (like writing a VLOOKUP to bring all the data together in a single table):



When relationship between tables are already defined in the underlying database relationships will automatically be created in the Excel Data Model during Import. Also when you are not sure how to create relationships Power Pivot you can use Power Pivot to detect and create relationships automatically.

In this blog post we created our first Excel data model, in part II of this blog post we will create additional relationships and start using DAX to add business logic to our Data Model.