Excel: Sharing a Pivot Table Slicer Between Multiple Data Sets

By Bill Jelen
May 1, 2020

Slicers are a visual way to filter data in a pivot table. With the Report Connections icon, you can have a slicer control multiple pivot tables on a dashboard—but only if all the pivot tables are from the same data set. Fortunately, there’s a separate way to control multiple pivot tables from different data sets, provided they have one field in common.


For this example, you have a sales worksheet and a quality worksheet. You want to summarize both data sets in a dashboard. The goal is to have a slicer that can filter all the pivot tables by industry. Both data sets have a Sector field listing the industry sector.


Because this technique uses the Data Model, it only works in Windows versions of Excel. It won’t work on a Mac or Excel online.


Your first step is to create a new table that has a sorted, unique list of the industries found in either report. You might use an Advanced Filter for this, but an easy way is to copy the Sector column from both data sets to a new table and then use Data, Remove Duplicates to make sure each industry appears in the list just once.


Next, convert the original data sets and your new small table of sectors into a table. Select one cell in a data set and press Ctrl+T to create a table. Make sure My Table Has Headers is checked in the Create Table dialog box. Repeat for all three tables.



After creating a table, Excel uses names like Table1, Table2, and Table3. Using the box on the left side of the Table Design tab in the ribbon, rename the tables with descriptive names like Sales, Quality, and Sectors.





Click the Relationships icon on the Data tab to open the Manage Relationships dialog. Click the New button to create a relationship. The first relationship is from the Sales table to the Sectors table. Choose Sector as the related column in both tables.



Create a second relationship between the Quality table and the Sectors table.



To visualize the relationships, click the Manage Data Model icon on the Data tab, which opens the Power Pivot window. Click Diagram View in the top-right of the Home tab. You should see the two original tables with the Sectors table in the middle. Hover over either arrow to confirm that the tables are linked by the Sector field. Use File, Close to close the Power Pivot window and return to Excel.





Normally, to create a pivot table from the Sales data, you would select one cell in your Sales table first and choose Insert, PivotTable. Because you have defined relationships, however, the collection of tables and relationships comprise a Data Model. So go to a blank section of your dashboard and choose Insert, PivotTable. Excel will default to using the workbooks data model as the source.



Build any number of pivot tables. In the figure below, two pivot tables are based on the Sales data while the orange pivot table is based on Quality data.





In order for the slicer to control pivot tables coming from both the Sales and Quality data, the slicer must be built based on the tiny Sectors table. Although you might normally create slicers using the Slicer icon on the PivotTable Analyze tab, you should switch to the Slicer icon on the Insert tab when using the Data Model.


From the Insert tab, choose Slicer. Excel opens the Existing Connections dialog box. Choose the second tab (called Data Model) and choose Tables In This Workbook Data Model. Click Open. Excel opens the Insert Slicers dialog. There’ll be two tabs: Active and All. Choose the tab for All and scroll down to the Sectors table. Be careful in this dialog. The Sector field is listed three times, but for the technique to work, you must select the Sector field from the Sectors table.



With the slicer selected, go to the Slicer tab in the ribbon. Choose Report Connections. Initially, the slicer isn’t connected to any pivot table. Choose each pivot table in the workbook. Click OK.





Slicers always start with a single column of items. While a slicer is selected, use the resize handles to change the shape. Use the Columns setting on the Slicer tab in the ribbon to show the slicer items in more columns.


When you select from the slicer, all the pivot table reports will be filtered by the slicer. For example, the figure below shows a report for only the Manufacturing sector.



To select multiple items from the slicer, turn on the Multi-Select feature using the icon with three checkmarks in the top of the slicer. Or, hold the Ctrl key while selecting additional items.





To add more slicers, you’ll need a tiny joiner table and two relationships for each slicer.



Bill Jelen is the host of MrExcel.com and the author of 60 books about Excel. He helped create IMA’s Excel courses on data analytics (bit.ly/2Ru2nvY) and the IMA Excel 365: Tips in Ten series of microlearning courses (bit.ly/2qDKYXV). Send questions for future articles to IMA@MrExcel.com.
2 + Show Comments

    NJ June 16, 2020 AT 6:59 pm

    Hi – This is really helpful. I’ve followed all the steps up to creating and linking the slicer. But when I click on one of the slicer buttons, there isn’t any filtering taking place on either of my pivot tables. Is there anything else I need to have enabled in excel for this to work? Thanks!

    Roland May 26, 2020 AT 9:22 pm

    Very comprehensible tutorial.

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