The Slicer Tool in Excel

By | 13th April 2015

Using the Slicer Tool for presenting

The-Slicer-Tool-in-ExcelIf you use Pivot Tables in your work you will know that they are an excellent resource for presenting large datasets in an easy-to-understand way. I often find myself presenting to groups of people who, in many cases, are not at all familiar with the data I am using.

If I glance around the room and see blank looks on some of the faces I know that I am not reaching my audience very well and need to address it pretty quickly. One of the ways I have found to be helpful is to prepare by adding a couple of slicers before I start my presentation.

What is a Slicer?

Essentially, the Slicer is a Pivot Table tool that displays a list of filtered fields on the screen. This can be very handy if you are presenting to a group of people who do not use Pivot Tables very often as the slicer can display the list of fields as an object alongside the Table without the Field List being displayed.

Inserting a Slicer

When you have created a Pivot Table, the Insert Slicer command becomes available from the Pivot Table Tools ribbon:

Insert Slicer Tool

Excel Slicer Tools

In Excel 2013 the screen is slightly different as it now includes the Analyse tab:

SlicerPivotTable3

The Slicer will appear on the screen with a list of the selected filtered list visible.  To alter the view, simply select one of the fields and the corresponding data will be displayed.

SlicerPivotTable1

If you are presenting via a projector, the changes will appear instantly giving the audience a real-time view of how that particular set of data would appear.

SlicerPivotTable2

If you need to show more than one field, holding down the Ctrl key will allow you to select non-adjacent fields from the slicer – if they are next to each other in the slicer dialog box, hold the shift key instead. In a similar way to using scenarios, the Slicer can create a quick “snapshot” of several versions of the dataset presented in different ways – it is just much quicker to use and a lot more user-friendly.

It also allows the presenter a very quick alternative to opening a separate PowerPoint presentation in order to communicate with an audience, particularly if using a Pivot Table Template where the ribbon is minimised and the different windows used to illustrate the differences rather than using the field list. Just as you are not restricted to using one slicer, you have a number of formatting and layout options with each slicer you have open.

The Selection Pane in Excel 2013

An additional tool that is available only in the Excel 2013 version is the Selection Pane. This allows you to see all the slicers you have created in one view, and you can turn them on or off from here:

SlicerSelectionPane

I use these tools a lot myself and suggest that if they are new to you, try them for yourself to see just how easy they are – and what a difference they can make to your audience’s understanding.

For more Excel tips, including using the slicer tool in Pivot Tables visit Excel Tutorial

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