How to fix pivot table data source reference not valid

Pivot tables are a powerful tool in Excel that allows you to summarize and analyze large sets of data quickly and easily. With a pivot table, you can rearrange and reorganize your data to show different summaries and insights. Sometimes, while working with pivot tables, we get the “Pivot Table Source Reference Is Not Valid” error and in this tutorial, we’ll learn why this occurs and how to fix this error.

Reason for this Error

This usually occurs when you try to create a pivot table and the data source that you have specified is invalid or does not exist. Here are some common causes of this error:

  • The Excel file name contains some special characters like [ ] brackets.
  • The data source that you have specified for the pivot table is not a defined named range of cells or table.

Let’s explore these one by one and fix them by following these steps.

Case 1: Excel file name is not correct

Step 1 – Check the Excel file name for any special characters

If you are getting this error then first check the name of the Excel file. Sometimes, the file name contains a valid special character but still Excel won’t let you create a pivot table in such a file.

Step 2 – Rename the Excel file to remove any special characters

  • If the file name has special characters as shown in the last step, then remove these first.
  • Change the file name to a simple file name as shown above,

Step 3 – Create the pivot table again

  • Create the pivot table again and you will notice that the error has been removed. This could be very annoying sometimes because you try to find the source of error in the data while the error exists due to the name of the file only as shown above.

Case 2: When you use a non-existing named range as data source

Step 1 – Create the problem to see the error

  • When you try to create a pivot table in Excel, it asks you to define the data range manually by writing the range of cells or the name of a named range. If you misspell the named range name or use such a name which doesn’t exist in the sheet then you will see the error as shown above.

Step 2 – Identify the problem to resolve the error

  • We tried to use a named range with the name MyData and received an error. So, we need to see whether our worksheet has any named range with this name or not. For this purpose, Click on the Formulas tab.
  • Go to the Defined Names group and click on the Names Manager.
  • This will open a dialog box and will show you all named ranges that this sheet has right now.
  • You can see the range of data each named range refers to by paying a closer look to “Refers To” column.
  • Find out the named range that you wish to use for your pivot table and while creating the pivot table again use the name properly. In our case we used MyData as the name of the named range however, the actual name was My_Data. When we use this name, the error will be removed as shown above.