Excel SLICER – A Complete Guide on how to Filter Data with it.

One of the best ways to quickly analyze data in Excel is to use filters, and the best way to filter data is to use SLICER, period. Slicer makes your data filtering experience a whole lot better. It’s fast, powerful, and easy to use. That’s why it is a part of our ADVANCED EXCEL SKILLS, and today in this tutorial, we will be exploring it in detail.

What is an Excel Slicer?

An Excel Slicer is a bunch of buttons that you can use to filter data from a column. Unlike a standard filter, it shows you all the available items that you can use to filter as buttons. You can connect it with a table or a pivot table and customize it the way you want (Color, Font, Buttons, etc.).

Insert Slicer with a Table in Excel

To insert a SLICER in an Excel Table use the following steps.

  1. First of all, press CTRL+T to convert the data (DOWNLOAD) into an Excel table, or you can also go to the Insert tab and click on the table.
    1-press-ctrlt-to-convert-the-data
  2. After that, select any of the cells from the table and then go to → Insert Tab → Slicer (click on the slicer button).
    2-select-any-cell-from-the-table
  3. Once you click on the button you have a dialogue box with all the columns names to select out them to insert a slicer.
    3-you-have-dialogue-box-with-all-the-headers
  4. In the end, tickmark the column that you want to use as a filter (you can also tick mark more than one column) and click OK.
    4-tick-mark-the-column-that-you-want-to-use

Insert a Slicer with a Pivot Table

  • Click anywhere on the pivot table.
    6-insert-a-slicer-with-a-pivot-table
  • After that, go to → Insert → Slicer.
    7-go-to-insert-slicer
  • Select the column that you want to use in the slicer. Here we have selected zone.
    8-select-the-column-that-you-want-to-use-in-the-slicer
  • In the end, click OK.
    9-in-the-end-click-ok

Related: How to Link/Connect a Single Slicer with Multiple Pivot Tables in Excel

How to use Slicer in Excel

Now we will learn how to use the Slicers since we know how to insert one. We will discuss three important things now.

1. Select a Single Slicer item

This is quite simple. As soon as you insert a slicer, you click on any button to filter your data. Let’s try to understand it with a very simple example.

Here we have inserted a slicer of Zone. The blue highlighted buttons (East, North, South & West) are all selected. Therefore, you can see the data of all four regions in the pivot.

Now we need to filter our data for the North Zone only. Click on the North button. The data in the pivot table will automatically be filtered. As soon as you click on the north button all the other buttons will be blurred.

2. Select Multiple Adjacent Items

Now, what if we need to select the data for two or more regions. Let’s say we need to filter the data for East and West Zone. This is very easy. You just need to press Ctrl and click on the buttons you need to filter.

Like here we will press Ctrl and click on East & West.

12-filter-the-data-for-east-and-west-zone

You can also select two or more consecutive buttons by simply clicking and dragging. Here we could have used this method if we had to select the data for East & North, or North Or South or South & West.

3. Clear Selected Items

The last and most important thing is removing the filters. Once you remove all the filters, all of your data will be visible and all the buttons will be highlighted. You can do this with a single click on the top right button of the slicer.

Formatting a Slicer

Since now we know how to work with slicers, let us start with formatting.

When it comes to useful presentable reports, format plays an important role. A well organized, eye-catching, and a good-looking report will attract more audiences than others. So, it is crucial to organize and format the reports and Slicers.

1. Remove Headers

Many times, we run short of space in our reports, especially when we are making a dashboard. Do not worry if your slicer takes more space. We can cut it short in many ways, one of which is removing the headers.

Here in our example, we know that North, East, West & South are the Zones, so we don’t necessarily need the Header “Zone”. Let us remove the header and save some space.

Select the Slicer → Right-click → Slicer Settings.

Untick the box against “Display Header”.

Here we go. The header is removed, and we could save some space.

2. Change Font

The next thing you need to know is how to change the font of a slicer.

  • To start with, select any style in the ribbon that best suits your requirements.
  • Now right click and click on the duplicate.
    17-right-click-and-click-on-the-duplicate
  • Here a dialogue box “Slicer Elements” will open.
    18-here-a-dialogue-box-slicer-elements-will-open
  • In case you missed, right-click on the duplicate slicer style and click modify.
  • Now click on the whole slicer and then Format.
    19-click-on-the-whole-slicer
  • Customize the font, borders, and fill as per your requirements.
  • Hit OK.

3. Remove Borders

Removing borders is as easy as changing the font. First, repeat the steps you did in changing the font.

  • Select the duplicate slicer style → Modify → Format → Border.
    20-remove-borders
  • Since we want to remove borders so click on “None”.
    21-remove-borders-so-click-on-none
  • Now hit OK.
    22-now-hit-ok

4. Remove Items with No Data

Sometimes you might find some items which are not highlighted since they do not contain any data. Like here, when I select the product, “Choco” East and South zone are not activated. This means that there are no sales of “Choco” In these two zones.

It is always advised to hide such buttons. Let us see how to do it.

  • First, right-click the slicer and select Slicer settings.
  • Now you will see the “Slicer settings” window.
  • Tick the box against ‘Hide items with no data”.
    24-tick-the-box-against-hide-items-with-no-data
  • Here we go.
    25-here-we-go

5. Customize Columns and Buttons

Most of the time, the slicer may not fit into your dashboard or report due to its column type structure. Hold on!! If this is the case, then you need to know that you can organize the distribution of the buttons in a slicer.

Select the slicer → Slicer (Top Ribbon) →Buttons

Here, increase the number of columns as per your requirement. I have increased the columns to 3, and my slicer now has three columns and horizontally spread.

Tip: You can also adjust the height and width of the buttons from the same tab.

6. Customize Size

If you do not want to spend more time in formatting the buttons or are not interested in playing with the columns and button sizes. All you need to do is adjust the dimensions of the slicer using the Size option.

You can also use the mouse, but you need good control over it. To avoid all this mess, simply select the slicer → Slicer (Top Ribbon) → Size. Here you can adjust the height and width of the Slicer as a whole. You do not need to play with each element.

7. Rename a Slicer

What if you want to rename a Slicer or put a small description in your Slicer header?

You can do this in a single click. Select the slicer → Slicer (Top Ribbon) → Slicer Caption

8. Align Slicers

The next important thing that you need to learn is the alignment. When you have multiple slicers, it is always advised to align them for a better presentation.

Select all the slicers → Slicer (Top Ribbon) → Arrange → Align

Here you have several options that are useful when you have more than one slicer but more than two slicers. Most of the time when you insert the slicers, they are cascaded over each other.

They are not distributed well. To arrange them well in your report or dashboard we have a quick fix called Align.

Align

This option helps you to arrange all your slicers to the right, top, middle, and bottom of the report. You need to decide where you want to place your slicers.

Here are a few steps to be followed: –

  • First, select all the slicers.
    34-select-all-the-slicers
  • After that click on Align Top.
    35-click-on-align-top
  • All the slicers will have a common start point from the top.
  • Now select the most right slicer and drag to the right side. Here you need to think of the approximate space all your slicers will be needing.
  • Here again, select all the slicers and click on distribute horizontally. Sometimes you might have to click this multiple times to adjust the spaces between the slicers.
    36-select-the-most-right-slicer

Similarly, you can distribute your slicer vertically.

Snap to Grid and Snap to Shape

In case you are running short of time and have multiple shapes In your report or dashboard, all you need to do is select all the slicers and click on snap to shape. This will automatically highlight the snap to grid option.

  1. Snap to shape helps you to adjust your shape to the other shapes in your report or dashboard.
  2. Snap to grid adjusts your slicer or shapes to the columns and rows in your workbook.

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About the Author

Aprajita has an MBA in sales and marketing and has been using Excel for the last 8 years and people around with data. Her journey started from learning a basic pivot table which made her fall in love with Excel.