11 min read

Google Sheets vs. Excel: A Head-to-Head Comparison

The spreadsheet programs allow its users to enter and manage data in the form of text, graphics and numbers.

The underlying algorithms of these programs help in connecting individual values and calculating results. While Excel has remained an undisputed leader in the spreadsheet market for a long time since its launch; Google sheets happen to be the new kid in the block which has given this seasoned professional, a tough competition.

Naturally, the issue of Excel and Google sheets is a raging topic. An elaboration on the subject of Excel vs. Google Sheets is not simply a matter of choosing which tool is better, but in fact, it helps in acquiring a better understanding of each tool in its individual capacity.

In this blog, we shall try to dissect the issue of Microsoft Excel vs. Google Sheets. The topic of Google Sheets vs. Microsoft Excel will be sought to be discussed under different heads like Price, Ease of Use, Data Visualization, Collaboration and so on. Consequently, we shall look at the pros and cons of Google Sheets vs. Excel.

What is Microsoft Excel?

Microsoft Excel initially released in 1989, is an integral part of the Microsoft Office Suite. It is available for Windows as well as macOS operating systems. It can be installed directly onto the computer and be launched from there.

Microsoft Office itself exists in various versions, wherein the 2021 version is the most recent one. Users can also get Microsoft Excel as part of their Microsoft 365 Cloud Subscription.


Excel serves as an important spreadsheet program which serves a vast array of functions. This includes organization and formatting of data visualizing information through charts and graphs, running calculations, calculating formulas and so on.

Additionally, it can be used to perform a number of more complex functions like tracking financial data, analyzing information and so on.

Advantages of Microsoft Excel

In this section, we shall look at some of the prominent benefits of Excel, which you should certainly keep in mind which discussing the topic of Microsoft Excel vs. Google Sheets, later.

  • Microsoft Excel provides for unlimited storage space
  • It provides for a useful Watch Window feature which removes the need to move back and forth between cells constantly. This feature allows you to add cells to the Watch Window and once done, you will be able to keep track of the content of those specific cells, irrespective of where you are working on the spreadsheet.
Advantages of Microsoft Excel
  • Excel comes with a Flash Fill feature which helps in saving time. Through this feature, the program identifies patterns and uses it to automatically fill data, so that Google sheets users don’t have to do it manually.
  • Excel provides for fast execution.
  • If the user wants to paste only designated parts of selected cells, you can go by the Paste Special feature which helps to copy only the formula, validation, text, or comments of a cell or cells.
Paste Special in Microsoft Excel
  • Conditional Formatting is another useful feature which helps in shading cells in different styles on the basis of the data that they hold. It is available through the Home tab.
Conditional Formatting in microsoft excel
  • The spreadsheet tool is conveniently available through the desktop as well as mobile apps.
  • It is capable of handling large volumes of data and larger batches of calculations.

Disadvantages of Microsoft Excel

  • It is difficult to troubleshoot and can be challenging to learn.
  • It is not possible to access Microsoft Excel away from your primary device, unless you have a cloud subscription or portable data storage options.
  • It can be costly, especially if you opt for the subscription model.
  • It does not provide for options to detect or track human errors in formulas.

What is Google Sheets?

Google Sheets is the spreadsheet program by Google which was released in 2006. It is an integral part of the Google Workspace which includes a number of other programs like Google Slides, Google Docs, Google Sites, Google Forms and so on.

Since Google Sheets is available as a web application, it can be used on any device wherein the browser is connected to the Internet.

It doesn’t necessarily have to be Google Chrome. However, there are no desktop apps for the Google Suite.

What is Google Sheets?

This tool can be used for the creation and modification of spreadsheets, along with sharing of data over the Internet in real time.

Since, it makes use of the cloud (Google Drive) for storing files, it is easy for people to share and collaborate from all over the world. Individuals are able to see the edits made to the files in real time and features like suggesting, commenting and others, facilitates communication, all along working on the spreadsheet.

Moreover, it enables one to work on their files from anywhere irrespective of the device, as long as they are connected to the Internet or have toggled offline mode on.

Advantages of Google Sheets

In this section, we shall look at some of the prominent benefits of Google Sheets, which you should certainly keep in mind which discussing the topic of Google Sheets vs. Microsoft Excel, later.

  • It is free and quite easy to use.
  • Mobile application of the program is available.
  • It provides for expedient collaboration in real time.
  • It makes use of the Cloud, providing for accessibility from anywhere, irrespective of the device.
  • The Autosave feature prevents potential loss of data.
  • It provides for a real time chat window and has built-in revision history.
  • Google Sheets provides for the formula =TRIM(Cell) which helps in cleaning up the data in the cell by eliminating the extra spaces.
  • It facilitates the creation of keyboard shortcut macros which helps in personalizing experience.
  • A new spreadsheet can straightaway be created directly from your browser’s address bar without the need to navigate to Google Drive. If you are logged into your Google account, typing sheet.new in the address bar can help in creating a new spreadsheet.

Disadvantages of Google Sheets

  • The tool is not very efficient in handling large volumes of data and lots of data only results in slowing down the process of document loading.
  • It is not the first choice for complex accounting and bookkeeping.
  • It provides for limited Data Visualization options.
  • Since the program can be accessed from any device, data/cloud safety can become a concern, when the account is used through public computers.
  • It provides limited formulas and customization.

MS Excel vs. Google Sheets: Differences

In this section, we shall undertake a detailed comparative analysis of the issue of Excel vs. Google Sheets.

We shall discuss the two tools under different heads and try to make sense of which one stands out as the preferred choice under different considerations.

1. Cost/Price

Pricing is definitely an important consideration when it comes to choosing a spreadsheet tool. In this respect, Google Sheets is free, while Microsoft Excel comes at a price irrespective of whether you buy it as a standalone tool or purchase the Microsoft 365 subscription.

If you happen to have a Google account, which most of us have, you already have access to Google Sheets. Additionally, you can opt for any of the business pricing options offered by Google.

  • Business Starter ($6/user per month)
  • Business Standard ($12/user per month)
  • Business Plus ($18/user per month)

Each of the plan comes with its own set of features.

The paid plans for personal use for MS 365 are:

  • Microsoft 365 Personal ($6.99/user per month)
  • Microsoft 365 Family ($9.99/user per month)

The paid plans for business use for MS 365 are:

  • Microsoft 365 Business Basic ($5/user per month)
  • Microsoft 365 Business Standard ($12.50/user per month)
  • Microsoft 365 Business Premium ($20/user per month)
  • Microsoft 365 Apps ($8.25/user per month)

Each of the plan comes with its own set of features.

Under this aspect of Google Sheets vs. Microsoft Excel, Google Sheets is the clear winner and has an upper hand.  

2. Collaboration

Very often than not, you are required to collaborate with other individuals over a team project. This is true at the student as well as the professional level.

Good team work necessitates efficient collaboration. This is rendered seamless when you are able to see what your teammates are editing in real-time.

This collaboration is rendered a cake walk through Google Sheets. The entire team can work virtually on the same spreadsheet and all the changes are visible in real time.

In fact, the same Google Sheet file can be opened on multiple devices by a single user at the same time. Coming to Microsoft Excel, this senior tool has certainly been trying to match with its junior counterpart in terms of collaboration; however, the process is certainly not very smooth and frictionless.

Collaboration on Excel is made possible only after the user saves the files on SharePoint or OneDrive.

Under this aspect of Google Sheets vs. Excel, Google Sheets is the clear winner and has an upper hand.

MS Excel vs. Google Sheets: Differences

3. Functionalities and Formulas

Microsoft Excel offers more features and functionalities as compared to Google Sheets. Unlike Google Sheets which relies on Internet connection and servers for fulfilling its tasks; Excel can be downloaded on your system and uses the processing power of the same, which makes the latter faster and have better functionalities.

Formula functions are an integral part of a spreadsheet program. Microsoft Excel as well as Google Sheets offer the option of basic formulas like AVERAGE, SUM, MAX and MIN. Thus, if you are looking for working with these basic formulas, both the programs are equally helpful.

However, Excel is still tad bit ahead of Google Sheets in the formula race. The former offers a wide range of advanced formulas like Conditional Formatting, Macro, IF Function, and so on.

Under this aspect of MS Excel vs. Google Sheets, Excel certainly has an upper hand, especially if you are looking to work on complex calculations necessitating advanced formulas.

4. User Friendliness

On the point of user-friendliness, Google Sheets is generally assumed to score better than Microsoft Excel. This is also because the former is more minimalistic and comes with a less extensive array of menus, features and options as compared to the latter.

Moreover, the auto save feature of Google Sheets is considered to be a life savior as individuals can simply afford to forget to manually save their files. In case of Microsoft Excel, only the latest version of it has this feature.

5. Data Analysis and Data Visualization

Presenting data in the form of visually appealing graphics and visualizations, render it comprehensible and easily understandable. When it comes to Data Analysis and Data Visualization, Microsoft Excel serves as a far more reliable choice.

You need to remember that Google Sheets was primarily designed to be beginner friendly and in keeping in mind the needs of intermediate users. Hence, it was not meant to provide for powerful data analysis. Google Sheets essentially serves as a data entry tool and it primarily has 1000 rows to begin with.

On the other hand, Excel is designed to work with Big Data.  Moreover, it has come to include new tools such as Power BI, Power Pivot, Power Query and so on, which works well with Big Data.

Talking about Data Visualization, Excel is once again superior than Google Sheets. In case of Sheets, you are required to create charts manually. In contrast, Excel is capable of transforming your numbers into a data masterpiece with ease. The bar charts and in-built formulas can be used to create pivot chart, Gantt chart or flowchart. Moreover, since it provides for advanced statistical analysis functions, along with powerful data processing; it is definitely a preferred tool for Data Analytics and Visualization.

Under this aspect of Excel vs. Google Sheets, Microsoft Excel is the clear winner and has an upper hand.

Excel vs. Google Sheets: A Tabular Comparison

In this section, we shall take up the issue of Google Sheets vs. Excel, by considering the differences between the two in a synoptic manner.

Pros and Cons of Google Sheets vs. Excel

In this section, we shall sum up the advantages and disadvantages of each tool in comparison with each other. Hence the pros and cons of Google Sheets vs. Excel are:


As we weigh the issue of Google Sheets vs. Excel, it is evident that each of the spreadsheet programs serves their basic purpose well and come with their own share or pros and cons. Thus, the fight over the topic of Excel vs. Google Sheets is not over determining the supremacy of one over the other.

The choice would largely depend on one’s objective and background. For beginners as well as where the goal happens to be less complicated data handling and necessitates real-time collaboration; Google Sheets would definitely be the first choice.

However, In case of businesses handling large volumes of data and seeking to produce high-end Data Visualizations, Excel certainly wins the race.

Both Google Sheets as well as Microsoft Excel can help serve the purpose of generating visually appealing Data Representations at different levels. This is one of the core processes of Data Analytics. We, at Syntax Technologies provide you with the excellent opportunity of developing as a Data Analyst expert. Read more about our Data Analytics and Business Intelligence course.

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