Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. If you are using a later version (Excel 2007 or later), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for later versions of Excel, click here: Editing PivotTables without Underlying Data.

Editing PivotTables without Underlying Data

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated May 15, 2020)
This tip applies to Excel 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003


Stephen works with workbooks that originate with other people in his company. These workbooks regularly have PivotTables in them. It seems that Stephen cannot edit some of the PivotTables, instead getting an error message that says the "underlying data was not included." This is a bit confusing, since Stephen received the entire workbook.

Normally this error occurs not when the underlying data is not present in the workbook, but when the underlying data cache is not saved with the PivotTable. This is usually done in an attempt to create a smaller file when the workbook is saved.

In order to edit the PivotTable, try simply refreshing the data (right-click the table and choose Refresh Data). If this doesn't work, or if you want to eliminate the message entirely, then you can follow these steps:

  1. Right-click the PivotTable. Excel displays a Context menu.
  2. Click PivotTable Wizard. Excel starts the PivotTable Wizard.
  3. Click Options. The wizard displays the options for the PivotTable.
  4. Near the bottom of the dialog box, make sure that the Save Data with Table Layout option is checked.
  5. Click OK.

You should note that when this option is selected, the file size of your workbook can be significantly larger than if the option is not selected. This is a tradeoff, however, as the PivotTable should display quicker since it is working with the data in the cache.

If these techniques don't work, it could be because the underlying data for the PivotTable really isn't in the workbook. If you poke around in the workbook and cannot find the data, then it could be that the data was being pulled from an external source—outside of Excel. If this is the case (you will need to check with the PivotTable's author to verify this) and if the PivotTable options have been set to not save the cache, as previously described, then you won't be able to make edits.

If you determine that this is the case with your situation, then you'll need to have the original author again generate the PivotTable and make sure that the Save Data with Table Layout option is checked.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (3295) applies to Microsoft Excel 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Excel (Excel 2007 and later) here: Editing PivotTables without Underlying Data.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Finding the Parent Folder

Do you need to figure out the name of the parent folder of whatever folder a worksheet is in? Believe it or not, this can ...

Discover More

Finding the Number of Significant Digits

When looking at a number, you may wonder how many significant digits it contains. The answer is not always an easy one, ...

Discover More

Forcing Printouts to Black and White

If you want to force Word to print some of its colors in black and white, you may be out of luck. One bright spot, as ...

Discover More

Professional Development Guidance! Four world-class developers offer start-to-finish guidance for building powerful, robust, and secure applications with Excel. The authors show how to consistently make the right design decisions and make the most of Excel's powerful features. Check out Professional Excel Development today!

More ExcelTips (menu)

Too Many Rows or Columns in a PivotTable

PivotTables are often used to aggregate lots of information, and they do it beautifully. What do you do if Excel starts ...

Discover More

Excluding Zero Values from a PivotTable

If you are using a data set that includes a number of zero values, you may not want those values to appear in a ...

Discover More

Suppressing Zero Values in PivotTables

PivotTables are great for digesting and analyzing huge amounts of data. But what if you want part of that data excluded, ...

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.

Comments

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] (all 7 characters, in the sequence shown) in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is 3 + 5?

There are currently no comments for this tip. (Be the first to leave your comment—just use the simple form above!)


This Site

Got a version of Excel that uses the menu interface (Excel 97, Excel 2000, Excel 2002, or Excel 2003)? This site is for you! If you use a later version of Excel, visit our ExcelTips site focusing on the ribbon interface.

Newest Tips
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.