google sheets vs excel arm wrestle

Google Sheets vs Excel: 2023 Comparison (+6 Expert Examples)

Some may say that Microsoft Excel is the seasoned professional and Google Sheets is the new kid on the block. But when you do a Google Sheets vs Excel comparison, these two spreadsheet programs give each other a tough competition.

This can only mean one thing for you: confusion.

Who do you pick?

The battle is as intense as dogs 🐶 vs. 🐱 cats.

In this article, we’ll cover both their key features, a detailed Microsoft Excel Vs Google Sheets comparison, and suggest a powerful project management software alternative.

Let the battle begin!

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Google Sheets vs. Microsoft Excel

If you look closely, both Google Sheets and Excel are just striving to be the other.

That means they’re very similar on several fronts.

However, in terms of core features, they have some key differences.

The main difference between Google Sheets and Microsoft Excel is that Google Sheets sports unmatched collaboration features while Excel focuses on offering the most powerful data analysis tool. Let’s take a deeper look at these qualities:

1. Collaboration

Collaboration is an important feature these days, especially with so many companies adopting remote work.

So a good spreadsheet template should let you see when your teammate is editing it in real-time. This way, you don’t have to tap them on the shoulder for ‘Is it done?’ 

A. Google Sheets

Google Sheets has turned collaboration into a superpower.

You can ask your entire team to work on the same spreadsheet, and the changes happen in real-time.

It’s like an online multiplayer game minus the lags and absurd glitches.

A single user can even open a Google Sheets file at the same time on multiple devices and it won’t cause any issues.

B. Excel

Excel has been trying to catch up with the internet era with real time collaboration. It’s now much easier for people to use and view other people’s changes in a few seconds.

But it’s still not there yet when compared to Google Sheets.

For example, if you want to collaborate with someone, the Excel file needs to be saved on OneDrive or SharePoint. If you don’t, you can’t co-author or collaborate on an Excel sheet.

Our Verdict

In this Google sheets vs Excel comparison, Google Sheets is the clear winner for collaboration.

2. Data analysis and visualization

By data analysis and visualization, we’re talking Gantt charts, pie charts, dashboards, etc.

Both Excel and Google Sheets have several chart options. But there’s definitely a winner in this category. Let’s find out.

A. Google Sheets

Google Sheets has quite a few charts and graphs, including scattered, bar, pie, column, etc.

But this is Sheets vs Excel. And when you compare, Google Sheets data visualization and analysis is not at par with Excel. A lot of charts may need manual efforts, and you can’t create charts like the pivot chart. At least not directly.

B. Excel

If you want to choose one of the tools for data analysis and visualization, Microsoft Excel is far ahead of Google Sheets.

How? Excel formulas!

They have a lot of power. Enough to turn your financial models into an art masterpiece with ease.

excel art

For example, if you want to create a flowchart, pivot chart, or a Gantt chart in excel, you can access the inbuilt formulas and bar charts in excel. You can also build a Kanban board.

Its statistical analysis functions, along with powerful data processing and advanced calculations make it far more feature rich.

Our Verdict

When comparing Excel vs Google Sheets, Microsoft Excel is way more powerful than Google Sheets’ limited data visualization options.

3. Formulas and functions

What’s a spreadsheet without formulas?

Excel and Google Sheets are neck and neck in a lot of things. But formulas aren’t one of those things.

A. Google Sheets

Google Sheets has a really long list of formulas, and they’re available on their Docs Editors help page.

Warning: You might keep scrolling for a while.

It offers all kinds of formulas, including dates, financials, filters, VLOOKUP, math, etc.

So it’s pretty much got most things you may need.

B. Excel

An Excel spreadsheet beats Google Sheets in the formulas race by a bit.

After all, Excel had a head start.

It offers a wide selection of advanced formulas, like conditional formatting, IF function, macro, etc.

But hold it. It’s not perfect.

Excel online has several functions missing that you’d typically find in the desktop version. For example, you won’t find the forms command in Excel’s online version.

Where’s the consistency, Excel?

Our Verdict

Use Excel if you’re working on complex calculations and Google Sheets for every day formulas.

4. Pricing

If we talk about price, Google Sheets is free!

They’re also considerate of business requirements and offer you a business subscription under Google Workspace.

What about Excel? It’s trying to catch up with Sheet’s collaboration and sharing abilities, but as soon as the topic shifts to the pricing options, Excel’s like…

man hiding behind newspaper

Check out these top Excel alternatives if you’re having second thoughts. 

A. Google Sheets

For personal use, you can use Google Sheets for free on a Google account.

You can also opt for any one of these three business pricing options:

  • Business Starter ($6/user per month)
    • 30GB per user cloud storage
    • Custom business email
    • Standard support
  • Business Standard ($12/user per month)
    • 2TB per user cloud storage
    • Ad-free email experience
    • Digital whiteboarding
  • Business Plus ($18/user per month)
    • 5TB per user cloud storage
    • Auto accept invitations
    • Site website builder

B. Excel

Microsoft Excel is part of MS 365 and offers a free plan for non-business users with an account. 

The paid plans for personal use include:

  • Microsoft 365 Personal ($6.99/month for one person)
    • 1TB cloud storage
    • Ad-free email and calendar use in Outlook
    • Microsoft Editor
  • Microsoft 365 Family ($9.99/month for up to 6 people)
    • Chat or phone technical support
    • AI-powered creative tools
    • OneDrive advanced security

The business paid plans include:

  • Microsoft 365 Business Basic ($5/user per month)
    • Web and mobile versions of Office apps
    • Email protection against spam
    • Microsoft Forms for feedbacks
  • Microsoft 365 Business Standard ($12.50/user per month)
    • Over 1000 privacy controls
    • Email hosting with 50GB mailbox
    • Premium Office apps including Microsoft Word, Publisher, Access, etc.
  • Microsoft 365 Business Premium ($20/user per month)
    • Schedule appoints with Microsoft Bookings
    • 1TB OneDrive storage
    • Restriction on copying company data
  • Microsoft 365 Apps (($8.25/user per month))
    • Includes only premium Office Suite apps
    • Real-time co-authoring
    • File sync on PC or Mac

Our Verdict

Google Sheets beats Excel because it’s absolutely free to use.

Want a closer look at each tool to help you decide between Excel vs Google Sheets?

Here’s a rundown of what each tool offers:

A Closer Look at Google Sheets

google sheets landing page

Google Sheets is a popular spreadsheet program that’s part of the free, web-based Google Docs Editors suite available for users with personal Google accounts. It’s also available in Google Workspace for business use.

This spreadsheet software is very well-known, thanks to its user-friendliness, ease of sharing, collaboration friendliness, etc.

Let’s check out some of Google Sheets’ key features:

1. Online access

Google Sheets is online for the most part, and it’s one of the best things about it. 

Most part? Yeah, you can install an offline extension to work on sheets without an internet connection.

But it’s the online access that helps Google Sheets stand out.

  • It’s easily accessible from anywhere and any device if you have the internet
  • Actions are always quick and in real-time
  • Your team members’ location doesn’t matter

It’s always fun to work with people from around the world, isn’t it?

2. Cloud and sync

Google Sheets was built as a cloud-based alternative to Microsoft Excel, and all you need is a Google account.

With it, you can sync and save every Google Sheets document automatically in Google Drive (cloud). This also means the files become accessible immediately from anywhere.

3. Explore

The explore feature in Google Sheets uses machine learning to let you access additional functionalities without leaving the platform.

Using explore, you can:

  • Create a pivot table
  • Format the Google spreadsheet with different colors
  • Build charts
  • Visualize data
  • Ask questions

For example, you can just type in a question on the sidebar like ‘what was the total sales amount?’ in your monthly sales sheet. 

And the explore feature will answer it for you.

Much easier than remembering formulas!

Here are several Google Sheets guides for you:

4. Integration with Google apps

Google apps integrate with other Google apps easily.

So if you wish to integrate Google Sheets with Google Form, Finance, Translate, Drawings, etc., it’ll be as easy as finding fries 🍟 on the McDonald’s menu.

3 Real Examples of Google Sheets as the Clear Winner

ClickUp surveyed spreadsheet users on their favorite between Google Sheets/Excel and received over 140 responses. Below, three experts share their examples on why they preferred Google Sheets.

Here’s Claudia Valladares, financial advisor of Kovar Wealth Management:

“The collaboration tool is the most efficient way to work on projects with your colleagues, as you can easily see who made changes. You no longer need to wonder, ‘Who deleted the data on Sheet 3?’ Simply check version history: User XYZ made changes at 5:39 pm. Google Sheets can also serve as a praise report. ‘Did you guys see what Stephanie created on the Reports tab? Super helpful!'”

Brett Downes, founder of Haro Helpers, mentions how a little-known feature of Google Sheets has helped generate his company extra revenue.

“We deal with clients and companies around the World, and payment is made from different currencies all the time. Google Sheets has a formula called GOOGLEFINANCE (which fetches current securities data from Google Finance) which has no equivalent in Excel, as in it gives real time exchange rates. In Excel, this has to be manually updated. We use this when billing clients to decide which currency is best to use, ours (GBP or USD) or theirs. It has made 3-5% extra on our revenue streams by picking the right one. This also works the other way when we are using other clients services and/or products.”

Sara Graves, founder of US Title Loans discusses the benefits of Google Sheets’ real-time collaborative features and its convenience:

“Sheets came to our rescue at the end of last year when we had a huge workload from the festive season as more people are always looking to get more cash through loans for their festivities. Everybody was busy trying to complete data entry tasks of our customers’ details. Sheets’ collaboration features allowed for team communication as numerous users could access and edit a document at once. It also provided quick reference with its ability to view and restore previous versions. In addition to its user-friendliness, Sheets enabled quick installations for workers who didn’t have the tool, and they found it extremely easy to use, allowing for more work to be done. For example, you can type into your address bar to create a brand new sheet instantly.”

A Closer Look at Microsoft Excel

Excel landing page

Microsoft Excel is the ideal spreadsheet solution if you need a tool or app for data analysis and documentation.

It’s a powerful spreadsheet app with abilities like calculations, graphing tools, pivot tables, and a macro programming language called Visual Basic for Applications (VBA).

Let’s check out some Microsoft Excel key features:

1. Efficient offline mode

Excel’s offline access is probably the best in town. And it makes sense.

MS Excel and the entire Microsoft Office Suite have been offline since dinosaurs used to walk the Earth. This means they’ve had enough time to perfect it, and that’s why they’re only now putting in efforts with Excel online.

2. Customization options

If you’re one of those Excel users that needs a lot of Excel functions, having quick access to them can save time.

The Excel Quick Access toolbar can be customized. It’s the green area on top of your Microsoft Excel sheet, right above the Home and Insert tabs.

excel spreadsheet

Here you can pin the buttons for the functions you like, such as form, developer, format text effects, etc., to it.

This way, you don’t have to pop down a series of menus every time you need to do something.

Here are some more Excel guides for you:

3. Advanced functionalities

The Excel app functionalities are vast, like the oceans. And from the looks of it, Excel keeps working on adding new advanced functionalities. 

They have created several advanced feature add-ins such as:

  • Power Query: lets you extract millions of rows full of data, clean and transform this data, and load it back into Microsoft Excel
  • Power Pivot: lets you analyze complex information and create elaborate data models
  • Power BI: lets you create your own interactive reports and dashboards

Guess they plan on building on this ocean of features for the foreseeable future.

dory saying just keep swimming

4. Automation

Automation in Microsoft Excel works using VBA (Visual Basic for Applications). It’s a backend programming and automation language.

Use it to automate repetitive tasks, report generation, or create custom add-ins.

The possibilities are endless.

3 Real Examples of Excel as the Clear Winner

Our survey of spreadsheet experts garnered strong opinions, some in favor of Excel.

Kyle Place, SEO at Wix, prefers Excel charts over Google because of the XLOOKUP function as well as more advanced pivot table and filtering options:

“I recently crawled a website and needed to evaluate the website hierarchy and internal linking structure (tens of thousands of rows or more) but Google Sheets was unable to process the data without freezing. The problem was amplified when I tried to apply custom sorting, filtering and later merge data from another sheet. I switched to Excel and accomplished the task in a fraction of the time.”

Christian Torres, continuous innovation manager at Foresight Management and co-founder of AriaLab, creates a variety of tools possible only in Excel for clients:

“We analyze natural gas futures-market pricing and traditionally looked at charts, graphs, and tables native to our current, but quickly realized that we needed something that could help our clients understand and visualize market risk. So, I created a Hedge Forecasting tool in Excel that models the future price of natural gas and runs thousands of scenarios using a historically weighted Monte Carlo simulation to show them the risk that lies ahead and the effects of future hedge purchases. 

In another example, a client of AriaLab uses a POS software to run her smoothie shop. The software generates basic sales reports, but she wanted to implement a profit-sharing system that was based on weekly profit, adjustments, hours, and a predetermined percentage allocation. I built a profit-share management tool in Excel that works by pasting the POS software’s export report into a sheet and allows here to manage and track her profit-sharing for all her employees.”

Abir Syed, CPA and co-founder of UpCounting uses both Google Sheets and Excel, but still prefers the latter:

“Even though nobody likes emailing an Excel back and forth, it does have some more advanced functions. The biggest reason I keep using Excel is the shortcuts. I’ve used Excel so extensively that I can do everything without touching a mouse. And the sheer speed with which I can work in Excel is untouchable by Sheets. So when I have to do data analysis and manipulate big data exports I’ll opt for Excel due to processing power and speed.”

Excel vs Google Sheets on Reddit

We also took to Reddit to see where people land on the Sheets vs Excel debate. When you search Excel versus Google Sheets on Reddit, many users agree that beginning and intermediate users won’t see much of a difference and may prefer the convenience of Google Sheets’ sharing capabilities over Excel:

“The main advantage of using Google Sheets is that it’s free and all you need to access it is a browser and there’s even an app for your phone. Sheets is also really easily shared and can collaborate on it with others at the same time.”

However, Reddit users heavily prefer Excel, bringing up valid points around work opportunities requiring Excel skills and the customizability and power of Excel:

“Excel is still better at a lot of things, especially charting, Google Sheets is very limited and massively frustrating. Sheets did not have Data Tables last time I looked.”

However, some users admitted their preference to Excel is based on habit:

“[I prefer] Excel because I know the shortcuts and how to quickly navigate – some things don’t work in Google sheets.”

So do we have a winner?

If you want a spreadsheet that allows effective collaboration and costs you little to nothing, Google Sheets is the solution.

And if you want every functionality in the offline mode with some really high-powered formulas, Excel should do it.

But here’s the thing: Google Sheets is just a spreadsheet. Maybe a little less intimidating than Excel. Whereas Excel is just a spreadsheet, an expensive one, trying to be more like… Google Sheets.

Well, now, let’s meet a new tool that’ll make you forget the pain of choosing between the two best spreadsheet apps.

What Is the Best Spreadsheet Tool?

The answer is simple. ClickUp!

clickup devices

It’s one of the highest-rated productivity tool, loved by large and small organizations alike.

Let’s show you why!

1. Manage tasks and calculations with Table view

Love tables full of rows and columns? ClickUp’s got the perfect space for you. 

It’s called the Table view.

You can view all your tasks in a simple table format here and navigate between fields quickly.

The Table view lets you:

  • Change row heights
  • Pin and hide columns
  • Copy-paste data into Excel and other apps (which you hopefully won’t have to!)
  • Share the table with people inside and outside your Workspace
clickup table view
Customizing columns and rows in ClickUp’s Table view

You can also calculate the sum, average, or range of table fields.

A lifesaver for people who hate math, and you can totally ditch that calculator app.

2. Bring spreadsheets to ClickUp with Embed view

ClickUp’s Embed view lets you bring any app or website you like to ClickUp.

It’s like Doctor Strange’s sling ring with a twist. He used the portal to go places, but you can use the Embed view portal to bring that place (app) to where you are.

doctor strange opening portal

That means, if you can’t bid farewell to Google Sheets or some other spreadsheet application, just embed it in ClickUp using a simple URL.

You’re only gonna save time by not jumping between apps.

ClickUp embed view
Quickly add an Embed view in ClickUp

3. Visualize and analyze your data

Visualizing data is so easy on ClickUp. 

How easy?

You can actually create an entire Gantt chart or Dashboard within a few clicks.

Using our Gantt chart, you can:

clickup gantt view
Managing dependencies in ClickUp’s Gantt view

As far as Dashboards are concerned, their insights will impress you immensely.

You can learn about almost everything using our Dashboard widgets. Just sort the data according to:

tag usage Dashboard widget

Or just personalize your Dashboard using custom widgets like line charts, portfolio, calculation, chat, etc.

But wait, ClickUp has so much more to offer!

We can’t list them all out for you (that’ll take forever), but here’s a glimpse at what’s in store for you:

  • Collaborate with multiple users or team members in real-time
  • Create personalized workflows and systems with custom fields
  • Keep working even when the wifi is down with offline mode
  • Integrations with Google Sheets, Microsoft Teams, etc.
  • Create Forms to gain client and customer feedbacks
  • Create templates to save time
  • Automate your tasks to create consistent processes
  • Use the keyboard shortcut options to tag users, edit comments, navigate Dashboards, etc.
  • Manage projects at zero cost with our Free Forever Plan
  • Work from any device, including mobiles (Android, iOS) and desktops (Windows, Mac, Linux)

Overview of Microsoft Excel vs Google Sheets vs ClickUp

table of Excel, ClickUp, and Google Sheets comparison
FeatureExcelGoogle SheetsClickUp
Free VersionYesYes
Chat WindowYesYes
Keyboard ShortcutsYesYes
Desktop AppYesYes
Kanban BoardYesYes
Free APIYesYes
Releasing UpdatesYesYes
Assigned CommentsYesYes
Collaboration DetectionYesYes
Revision HistoryYesYes
Dependency TackingYes
Goal TrackingYes
Time TrackingYes
Workflow ManagementYes

Excel vs. Sheets: Who’s the Spreadsheet Master?

Excel and Google Sheets are both great spreadsheet tools.

But we’re not gonna lie; their features are very similar. 

And even though it feels like you can do it all on these apps, most activities need some learning and expertise.

Would you rather try and earn a diploma in spreadsheet-making or prefer an alternative that does it all with none of the hassles? 

If you said yes to an alternative, then say hello to ClickUp.

It’s a powerful productivity tool that brings spreadsheets, project management, charts, Dashboards, and literally everything you can think of to one single platform.

And it comes with a Forever Free Plan.

If that doesn’t scream amazing, we don’t know what will.

Get ClickUp for free today and show us your spreadsheet love!

Questions? Comments? Visit our Help Center for support.

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