Like many people, I have a love-hate relationship with software. It’s great when it works, but it’s so frustrating when you get a cryptic error message. And these messages seem to appear when you’re short on time and patience. This happened to me last week when I needed to produce some stats and Microsoft Excel was telling me my PivotTable field name was not valid. I finally got the issue resolved with these 2 steps.
I’m trying to crank out some stats using a pivot table as I’ve done countless times before. Except instead of seeing my results, I get the error below. Most times, I can quickly figure these scenarios out. This one took some digging.
My solution boiled down to 2 separate problems.
Fix 1: Unhide Excel Columns
The spreadsheet I was using was very large. It had 121 columns and I hid many of them because I wasn’t using them. To see if this was the only issue causing the error, I decided to unhide all the columns.
- Click the Select All button to the left of cell A1
- Right-click any column heading and select Unhide.
- Try your Pivot Table again.
In my case, I still got the error.
Fix 2: Delete Empty Columns
The next fix took a bit longer and did require I have all my columns visible. It seems this spreadsheet had a number of columns, that had headers, but no values in any of the cells. Yeah, that’s why I hid them.
In my case, I thought it would be easier to make a copy of my spreadsheet and then delete these columns. This way, I still had the original file.
When I created my Pivot Table on the smaller working file, it worked.