Excel PivotTable error "Data source reference is not valid"

Applies to: Excel 2010Excel 2016Excel 2013

Symptoms


When opening an Excel workbook that contains square brackets in the name (e.g., "foo[1]"), the user will receive the following error message when attempting to create PivotTables using data from within the workbook:

Data source reference is not valid

Cause


The cause is due to square brackets being invalid characters in an Excel workbook file name.

Resolution


This behavior is expected when these conditions occur. In order to work around this, the user would be required to remove all invalid Excel characters from the file name.

More Information


This issue may be seen when trying to open an Excel workbook from Internet Explorer. Internet Explorer creates a copy of the file in the temporary directory, renaming the file with square brackets. This can be avoided by clicking "Save," instead of "Open," when Internet Explorer presents the file to the user.