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Pivot tables are generally used to present raw and summary data. They are generated from spreadsheets and, more recently, also from R (pivottabler).

If we generate pivot tables from our own data, flattabler package is not necessary. But, if we get data in pivot table format and need to represent or analyse it using another tool, this package can be very helpful: It can save us several hours of programming or manual transformation.

flattabler package offers a set of operations that allow us to transform one or more pivot tables into a flat table.


You can install the released version of flattabler from CRAN with:


And the development version from GitHub with:

# install.packages("devtools")


A pivot table contains label rows and columns, and an array of values, usually numeric data. It can contain additional information, such as table header or footer.

V1 V2 V3 V4 V5 V6 V7 V8 V9
M1 E D
e1 Total e1 e2 Total e2 Total general
A B d1 d2 d1 d2
a1 b1 2,99 1,02 4,01 4,06 1,32 5,38 9,39
b2 3,89 3,65 7,54 5,55 5,55 13,09
b3 2,33 2,33 1,87 1,87 4,2
Total a1 9,21 4,67 13,88 11,48 1,32 12,8 26,68
a2 b1 5,62 1,94 7,56 4,59 2,13 6,72 14,28
b2 3,82 7,72 11,54 4,78 2,94 7,72 19,26
b3 5,36 6,38 11,74 1,69 1,78 3,47 15,21
Total a2 14,8 16,04 30,84 11,06 6,85 17,91 48,75
Total general 24,01 20,71 44,72 22,54 8,17 30,71 75,43

The transformation to obtain a flat table from the pivot table using flattabler package is as follows:


ft <- pt %>%
  set_page(1, 1) %>%
  define_labels(n_col = 2, n_row = 2) %>%
  remove_top(1) %>%
  fill_labels() %>%
  remove_agg() %>%
  fill_values() %>%
  remove_k() %>%
  replace_dec() %>%

The result obtained is as follows:

page col1 col2 row1 row2 value
M1 a1 b1 e1 d1 2.99
M1 a1 b1 e1 d2 1.02
M1 a1 b1 e2 d1 4.06
M1 a1 b1 e2 d2 1.32
M1 a1 b2 e1 d1 3.89
M1 a1 b2 e1 d2 3.65
M1 a1 b2 e2 d1 5.55
M1 a1 b3 e1 d1 2.33
M1 a1 b3 e2 d1 1.87
M1 a2 b1 e1 d1 5.62
M1 a2 b1 e1 d2 1.94
M1 a2 b1 e2 d1 4.59
M1 a2 b1 e2 d2 2.13
M1 a2 b2 e1 d1 3.82
M1 a2 b2 e1 d2 7.72
M1 a2 b2 e2 d1 4.78
M1 a2 b2 e2 d2 2.94
M1 a2 b3 e1 d1 5.36
M1 a2 b3 e1 d2 6.38
M1 a2 b3 e2 d1 1.69
M1 a2 b3 e2 d2 1.78

The table above is a flat table whose data has been obtained from the pivot table through flattabler. It only contains raw data and the labels that characterize it. An additional label has been added with the value that identifies the pivot table, the pivot table page. NA values have not been included.

Once we have defined the necessary transformations for a pivot table, we can apply them to any other with the same structure. Candidate tables can have different number of rows or columns, depending on the number of labels, but they must have the same number of rows and columns of labels, and the same number of header or footer rows, so that the transformations are the same for each table.

To easily perform this operation, we define a function f from the transformations, as shown below.

f <- function(pt) {
  pt %>%
    set_page(1, 1) %>%
    define_labels(n_col = 2, n_row = 2) %>%
    remove_top(1) %>%
    fill_labels() %>%
    remove_agg() %>%
    fill_values() %>%
    remove_k() %>%
    replace_dec() %>%

ft <- flatten_table_list(list_pt_ie, f)

In this way we can generate a flat table from a list of pivot tables. The list of pivot tables is generated using package functions to import them from various data sources.