# How to Write Excel Formulas Without Using GETPIVOTDATA?

If you work with **PivotTables in Microsoft Excel**, you may have encountered formulas that include the GETPIVOTDATA function. While this function can be useful, it can also make formulas long, complex, and difficult to understand or modify. Fortunately, there are ways to **write Excel formulas that reference PivotTable data without using GETPIVOTDATA**. In this article, we’ll explain what the GETPIVOTDATA function does and provide several alternative methods to write cleaner, more flexible formulas for your PivotTables.

## What is the GETPIVOTDATA Function?

The **GETPIVOTDATA function** is used to retrieve data from a PivotTable based on the column and row headings. When you create a formula that references a cell in a PivotTable, Excel automatically generates a GETPIVOTDATA formula.

For example, if you have a PivotTable that summarizes sales data by region and product, and you write a formula that references the total sales for the North region and Product A, the resulting formula would look something like:

=GETPIVOTDATA(“Sales”,$A$3,”Region”,”North”,”Product”,”Product A”)

This formula retrieves the value from the “Sales” column in the PivotTable where the “Region” is “North” and the “Product” is “Product A”.

While GETPIVOTDATA can be handy, it has some drawbacks:

- The formulas can be very long and hard to read, especially if there are many fields referenced
- If the layout or structure of the PivotTable changes, the formulas can break
- It can be cumbersome to update the formulas if you want to reference different fields or values

Luckily, there are several alternatives that allow you to write **PivotTable formulas without GETPIVOTDATA**. Let’s take a look at some of these methods.

## Method 1: Using Cell References

The simplest way to reference PivotTable data without GETPIVOTDATA is to use normal cell references. Instead of relying on the field names and values, you can simply reference the cell that contains the data you want.

For instance, if the total sales for the North region and Product A is located in cell B5 of your PivotTable, you could write a formula like:

=B5

This formula will return the same value as the GETPIVOTDATA formula shown earlier, but it is much shorter and easier to understand.

The main disadvantage of this approach is that if the PivotTable layout changes, your formula may end up referencing the wrong cell. However, you can mitigate this risk by using named ranges or dynamic cell references, as we’ll see in the next sections.

## Method 2: Using Named Ranges

**Named ranges** allow you to assign a meaningful name to a cell or range of cells in your spreadsheet. You can then use that name in your formulas, making them more readable and maintainable.

To create a named range for a PivotTable cell:

- Select the cell you want to name
- Go to the
**Formulas**tab on the Excel ribbon - Click on the
**Define Name**button - Enter a name for the cell (e.g. “NorthProductASales”)
- Click
**OK**

Now you can use the named range in your formula instead of a cell reference:

=NorthProductASales

Using named ranges makes your PivotTable formulas much more intuitive and can help prevent errors if the table layout changes. However, you’ll still need to update the named ranges if you modify the PivotTable structure significantly.

## Method 3: Using Dynamic Cell References

Another way to make your PivotTable formulas more flexible is to use **dynamic cell references**. This involves creating a formula that finds the correct cell to reference based on the row and column labels.

To illustrate, let’s say we want to create a formula that always returns the sales total for the North region and Product A, even if the position of that data changes in the PivotTable. We can use a combination of the MATCH and INDEX functions to achieve this.

First, we’ll use MATCH to find the row and column numbers that contain the labels we want:

=MATCH(“North”,A:A,0)

=MATCH(“Product A”,1:1,0)

These formulas will return the row number of “North” and the column number of “Product A” respectively. The “0” argument specifies an exact match.

Next, we nest those MATCH functions inside an INDEX formula to retrieve the value at the intersection of the matching row and column:

=INDEX(B2:Z100,MATCH(“North”,A:A,0),MATCH(“Product A”,1:1,0))

This formula looks up the value in the range B2:Z100 (adjust to match your PivotTable range) based on the row and column numbers returned by MATCH. So even if the “North” and “Product A” labels move around in the table, the formula will still find the correct sales total.

Dynamic references take more work to set up initially, but they provide the most robust solution for referencing PivotTable data in formulas. As long as the row and column labels you reference remain in the table, your formulas will continue to work correctly.

## Method 4: Using GETPIVOTDATA with Cell References

If you want the benefits of GETPIVOTDATA without the complex formulas, you can combine it with simple cell references.

Instead of referring to the PivotTable and field names directly in the function, you create cell references that fetch those properties from separate cells. For example:

=”Sales”

=A3

=”Region”

=”North”

=”Product”

=”Product A”

Then in your GETPIVOTDATA formula, you reference those cells:

=GETPIVOTDATA(B1,$B$2,B3,B4,B5,B6)

Now if you need to update which data the formula is referencing, you can simply change the values in the referenced cells rather than editing the formula itself. This keeps your GETPIVOTDATA formulas much cleaner and easier to maintain.

## Method 5: Restructuring Your Data

Finally, in some cases you may be able to avoid complex PivotTable formulas entirely by **restructuring your source data**.

PivotTables are great for quickly summarizing and analyzing data, but they’re not always the best choice if you need to build intricate formulas based on the results. If you find yourself struggling to write formulas that reference specific PivotTable cells, consider whether you can reshape your data to make it easier to work with.

For instance, instead of having a single PivotTable with multiple row and column fields, could you break it out into several simpler tables that capture the different dimensions? Or could you add calculated columns to your source data that aggregate the metrics you’re interested in?

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach, but thinking critically about your data structure and PivotTable design can often lead to simpler, more manageable formulas in the long run.

## Final Thoughts

Writing **Excel formulas for PivotTables without using GETPIVOTDATA** is absolutely possible – and often preferable for creating cleaner, more maintainable spreadsheets. By leveraging tools like cell references, named ranges, dynamic lookups, and creative data structuring, you can build powerful PivotTable formulas that are easy to understand and modify.

## FAQs

### Why might you want to avoid using GETPIVOTDATA in your Excel formulas?

### What is the simplest way to reference PivotTable data without using GETPIVOTDATA?

### How can named ranges help make PivotTable formulas more readable and maintainable?

### What are dynamic cell references, and how can they make PivotTable formulas more flexible?

### How can you combine GETPIVOTDATA with cell references to simplify your formulas?

### What is the key to finding the best approach for writing PivotTable formulas without GETPIVOTDATA?

Vaishvi Desai is the founder of Excelsamurai and a passionate Excel enthusiast with years of experience in data analysis and spreadsheet management. With a mission to help others harness the power of Excel, Vaishvi shares her expertise through concise, easy-to-follow tutorials on shortcuts, formulas, Pivot Tables, and VBA.