Easily Insert an Excel Timeline to Filter Pivot Table Data

by Avantix Learning Team | Updated November 11, 2016

Applies to: Microsoft® Excel® 2013 and 2016 (Windows)

Starting in Microsoft Excel 2013, you can now filter pivot tables by date periods using a timeline tool. You can combine timelines with slicers to filter in different ways and you can also zoom in on specific date periods. In order to add a timeline, you must have a date field in the source data with valid dates.

Recommended article: Excel’s Awesome Quick Totals Tool

If you are a keyboard only user, check out No Mouse? Using Keyboard Only Navigation in Microsoft Office (Part 1: The Ribbon).

When you click in a pivot table, an Insert Timeline button appears in the Ribbon on the PivotTable Tools Analyze tab in the Filter group:

Microsoft Excel Analyze tab with Insert Timeline button.

Insert a timeline

To insert a timeline:

  1. Select a cell in a pivot table.
  2. Click the PivotTable Tools Analyze tab in the Ribbon.
  3. Select Insert Timeline. A dialog box appears.
  4. Select the check boxes of the date fields you want to use and click OK.

Microsoft Excel Insert Timeline dialog box with date field.

Once you’ve added a timeline, you can apply date filters at four levels:

  • Years
  • Quarters
  • Months
  • Days

Microsoft Excel timeline by month.

Use a timeline to filter by a date period

To filter by a specific date period:

  1. Select a cell in a pivot table.
  2. In the Timeline dialog box, click the arrow next to the date interval (years, quarters, months or days) and select the desired period.
  3. Drag the timeline scroll bar at the bottom of the dialog box to the time period you want to analyze.
  4. In the timespan control, click a period tile and/or drag to include additional tiles to select the date range you want. Drag the timespan handles (dotted lines) to adjust the date range on either side.

 Microsoft Excel timeline filtered by quarter.

Clear filters in a timeline

To clear filters in a timeline:

  1. Select a cell in a pivot table.
  2. In the Timeline dialog box, click the Clear Filter button.

Microsoft Excel clear timeline button in the timeline dialog box.

Use timelines and slicers

To combine slicers with a timeline to filter the same date field:

  1. Select a cell in a pivot table.
  2. Select the PivotTable Tools Analyze tab in the Ribbon.
  3. Click Options. A dialog box appears.
  4. Click the Totals & Filters tab.
  5. Select the checkbox to Allow multiple filters per field.
  6. Click OK.

Move a timeline

To move a timeline, drag it by its title bar to the location you want.

Customize timeline appearance

To change the size of the timeline, drag the corner sizing handles to the size you want.

To change the style of the timeline, click it to display the Timeline Tools Options tab in the Ribbon and then select the style you want.

Microsoft Excel Ribbon tab for formatting a timeline.

Timelines are a great new tool for filtering pivot tables by date.

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Recommended Microsoft Excel training

Microsoft Excel: Intermediate / Advanced

Microsoft Excel: Data Analysis with Functions, Dashboards and What-If Analysis Tools

Microsoft Excel: Introduction to Visual Basic for Applications (VBA)


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