G Suite vs. Office

Microsoft Excel vs. Google Sheets: Which works better for business?

As Google has added more sophisticated features to Sheets, Microsoft has been beefing up Excel’s collaboration abilities. See which spreadsheet app wins in today’s multiplatform environment.

Google Sheets vs. Microsoft Excel
Thinkstock / Google / Microsoft

Microsoft Excel and Google Sheets are the two best-known spreadsheet applications available today. Both are polished and very useful — so much so that it’s easy to cling to the application you’re currently using without learning how the other has improved over the years. If you (or your business) chose one spreadsheet app and rejected the other years ago, there may be good reasons to reconsider.

To find out where Excel and Google Sheets stand today, both individually and compared to each other, I tested them by trying out the most common tasks users perform, including starting a new spreadsheet, inputting data and formulas, formatting cells, creating charts, adding extras such as links to external data sources, and collaborating with others.

To test all that, I decided to create a typical spreadsheet that many business professionals might need to assemble: a budget tracker. I built one that tracked eight months of monthly income and expenses for an imaginary company, including both results and projections.

Because it’s a multiplatform world, I worked on the spreadsheet using a Windows PC, a Mac, an iPad, an Android tablet and an iPhone. I used both the local clients and the online version of Microsoft Excel. Google Sheets is web-based but also has client versions for Android and iOS, so I tested those as well.

To keep things simple, the descriptions that follow are all based on the Excel 2016 Windows client (the current, stable version that is part of Microsoft Office 365). Some of the features may appear differently on a Mac. Naturally, the instructions for the browser-based Google Sheets are the same for both Windows PCs and Macs.

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