***UPDATE: An even better technique is now posted here. The new technique is much less hassle.
Back in June, Kasper posted a trick which lets you detect a user’s selection in a slicer, and use that in a PowerPivot measure. That’s a very useful trick, one that we employ all the time at Pivotstream.
But sometimes, that is overkill. Sometimes, you just want to grab a slicer’s selected value and use it in an Excel formula, right there in the sheet. Here is the simplest method we have discovered so far:
1) Duplicate the field as a slicer AND a report filter
First step is to take the field you want to use as a slicer, and add it to your pivot both as a slicer, and as a report filter, as in this simple pivot:
2) Observe that the Report Filter “Tracks” the Slicer
OK, now click a date in that slicer. Look what happens to the report filter in the sheet:
Cool huh? Since they are the same field, the report filter has to always be in synch with the slicer. And unlike the performance penalty that can pile up with multiple slicers, duplicating a field like this will NOT make your pivot slower at all.
3) Use the Report Filter Cell in a Formula
Yeah, you probably see where this is going already: now you can reference the report filter cell in a formula, like this:
4) Clean up the visuals
Move the formula to a more centered location, change the font, and hide the row that contains the report filter:
I haven’t tried it but I am pretty sure this will work with regular pivots, too, not just PowerPivots.
If you select multiple items in the slicer, you will get the text “Multiple Items” in your formula instead of a single value. UPDATE: I have since written another post that covers this. It’s not a pretty technique but it gets the job done. Post is here: http://powerpivotpro.com/2011/09/catching-multiple-slicer-selections-in-a-formula/ (November 2012 update: see the link below for a less clumsy method).
When you really get started thinking about this, there’s really no limit to the cool tricks you can pull off. I’ll show a few more specific examples over time, but I’m sure you guys will discover many cool tricks of your own, too. Here’s some food for thought: report filters aren’t the only way to get slicer selections into a worksheet cell.
Update, November 2012
I’ve since posted yet another way to do this that is probably the simplest I’ve personally used to date, and it handles multi select quite well too: