Excel vs. Google Sheets: What’s the Difference?

Both Google Sheets and Microsoft Excel are great tools to organize and manipulate data, but they are not identical programs. Microsoft Excel has been in the market since 1985 and Google sheets since 2006, so how do you know which program to use? This article will explain the pros and cons of each program so you can choose the one that works best for your needs.

What is Microsoft Excel?

Microsoft Excel is a spreadsheet program that allows users to enter data into rows and columns, manipulate this data, then view the results. This software can be used to create graphs, charts, and tables. You can use Excel to calculate averages, percentages, and other statistical information. You can use Excel’s functions to perform mathematical operations like addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, and more.


  1. You can use Excel formulas to automate processes, such as calculating loan payments or creating financial reports.
  2. You can use Excel pivot tables to analyze data. Pivot tables are useful for organizing large amounts of data in a way that makes it easy to spot trends and patterns.
  3. You can use Excel macros to automate repetitive tasks. Macros allow you to write code that performs specific actions without having to manually type out each command.

What is Google Sheet?

In a nutshell, Google Sheets is free Excel software that you can access and manage via your browser. Both are spreadsheet applications that offer many of the same features. However, there are some major differences between them to consider when deciding which one is best for your needs.

Differences Between Excel and Google Sheets

  1. Excel is a spreadsheet program that allows users to enter data into rows and columns, manipulate this data, then save it back out again.
  2. Google Sheets is a free online spreadsheet application that can be used to create and edit spreadsheets. It can be accessed from any web browser without downloading software.
  3. Excel has a user interface that is designed to make entering data easy. You can use formulas to calculate values based on other cells and even link them together.
  4. Google Sheets does not have a user interface but instead uses a formula language that is similar to programming languages. This makes it possible to do complex calculations using formulas.
  5. Excel is best suited for creating simple spreadsheets. If you need to perform advanced functions like pivot tables, charts, or macros, you should use Google Sheets.
  6. Excel is better at manipulating large amounts of data. With Google Sheets, you can only view your data.

Size: Excel vs. Google Sheets

First, it’s worth mentioning that even though Excel and Google Sheets are both spreadsheets, they have some major differences. They differ in size for one thing: The maximum number of rows for Excel is 1 million; for Google Sheets, it’s 100 million. Additionally, each sheet in an Excel workbook can hold a maximum of 16,384 columns (though each column can only be 65,536 characters wide), whereas a Google Sheet has no limitations.


Use: Excel vs. Google Sheets

While there’s nothing wrong with using Excel, spreadsheets are far more useful when you can share them with others in your organization. Since they live in your cloud storage and can be easily shared, it’s easier to collaborate on projects and less likely that a spreadsheet will contain outdated or inaccurate information. With some flexibility and training, anyone can learn how to use Google Sheets. And since there’s no installation or additional plugins required, you don’t have to worry about compatibility issues.

Visual Appeal: Excel vs. Google Sheets

You may have used Excel before and know that it’s great for creating tables, graphs, and keeping track of basic data. But what about massive spreadsheets containing dozens or hundreds of thousands of rows and columns? Or complex worksheets containing charts, pivot tables, and other visual elements as part of your work? Chances are you’ve outgrown Excel at some point along in your career and started using a database program like SQL Server.

Accessibility: Excel vs. Google Sheets

You can find an Excel tutorial video in just about any language. If you are looking for a tutorial in, say, Spanish or Italian, you will likely find one (on YouTube). Google Sheets doesn’t have that same kind of built-in accessibility (that I know of), which could be a problem if your audience speaks another language other than English.

Cost: Excel vs. Google Sheets

The most obvious advantage of Excel is that it’s not free. You have to pay for it, whereas Google sheets is a free product. The cost of Excel varies according to which version you buy but averages $200. You can use Microsoft Office or OpenOffice for free and get access to spreadsheets if you want an alternative option; though, they aren’t as sophisticated as either of those products.


The answer to which spreadsheet tool you should use depends on your own needs. If you need a lot of custom functions, you’ll want to stick with Excel. But if you’re just looking for an easy way to organize data, no matter how much of it, Google Sheets has got your back. The beauty of both programs is that they can work together seamlessly—for instance, bringing data in from Excel into a web app like Sheets and vice versa.