Companies are mostly reliant on spreadsheets to monitor their daily operations. From staff attendance to managing sales records, spreadsheet software has become an indispensable part of modern businesses.
For decades, when talking about spreadsheets, everyone would immediately assume it was about Excel. No other spreadsheet software solution has challenged the throne until recently, as more companies are willing to take on Microsoft’s hegemony.
Before, spreadsheets are often associated with data and financial tracking. Nowadays, their capabilities are far beyond that, especially if you are proficient in macros. Let’s explore the best spreadsheet software options worth considering.
A Quick Comparison of Best Spreadsheet Software
|Spreadsheet Software||Free / Trial||Starting Price||Compatible Devices||Key Features|
|Microsoft Excel||Free online||$6.99 a month||All Windows, Apple, and Android devices||Paste special|
|Google Sheets||Free||$4.20 a month(For added storage and features)||All Windows, Apple, and Android devices||Collaboration tools|
|Apple Numbers||Free||Free for Apple users||All Apple devices||Templates library|
|Apache OpenOffice Calc||Free||Free||Windows, Linux, and OS X computers||Data Pilot|
Best Spreadsheet Software Programs
There are multiple choices for spreadsheet applications, and each of them has different features worth highlighting. Listed below are a few of the most recommended programs for doing spreadsheets.
For decades, Excel has been regarded as the industry standard for spreadsheet applications, and for good reason. As part of the original Microsoft Office Suite, it has been used by most companies since the late 1980s and shouldn’t be changing anytime soon.
The versatility and popularity of Excel are the primary reasons it is still the standard for spreadsheet software. Some notable features you can expect when using this Microsoft program are enumerated below.
- Paste Special
Normally, when you copy-paste data from one cell into another, all the information gets duplicated. In Excel, you have the option to use Paste Special, which allows you to copy only selected parts.
For example, if you want to copy the formatting from a specific cell to another, you may do so by choosing the formulas option inside the Paste Special window.
- Pivot Tables
Another distinct feature of Excel is the Pivot Tables, which allow you to summarize and analyze data sets. Instead of manually browsing the spreadsheet, the program can effortlessly recombine the data you are working on to make your tasks faster and easier.
With Pivot Tables, you may get a better idea of your revenue source by month, offering, customer, and so on by looking at your data from various perspectives.
A Macro is a line of code applied in Excel that automates processes. You can accomplish repetitive tasks related to data reporting and manipulation without manual input by using Macros. They are created using VBA or Visual Basic for Applications.
What we like about Excel is that you don’t need to be a coder to use Macros; you can simply collect useful Macro codes and use them when needed. However, if you have complex tasks that require Macros, some coding knowledge would be advantageous.
- Conditional Formatting
Conditional Formatting is a convenient feature capable of highlighting trends and patterns in your data. To use it, you must define rules that identify the cells’ format based on their values. Depending on the values, you can highlight cells with a specific color.
The best part is that Conditional Formatting is applicable on a set of cells, a Pivot Table report, or a whole Excel table.
If you’re looking for the best free spreadsheet software, there is no other better option than Google Sheets. Unlike Excel, you don’t have to install anything to use it since it is a web-based application. Moreover, its simple user interface has made it very popular with users worldwide.
While Excel is still the most popular program for spreadsheets, the use of Google Sheets has skyrocketed in recent years and still trending upwards. Here are a few of the notable aspects of this spreadsheet application.
Google Sheets can allow access, commenting, and editing to anyone who has an account. Also, the program lets multiple users record their input simultaneously in real-time. Excel later has this feature on the Office 365 website, but Google Sheets is still heavily favored regarding online spreadsheet software.
- Update Notification
The collaboration feature of this web-based spreadsheet program becomes more convenient if used with email updates. You can send a notification by adding a plus sign and entering certain user email addresses. If you have any questions or clarifications, your colleagues will be immediately notified.
- Version History
If you want to track the history of the spreadsheet, Google Sheet has it covered. You will find the Version History at the top center, which records every document edit, regardless of user. The time and username are also indicated, so in case you have some inquiries about a questionable input, you know who to ask.
- Data Protection
Working with others can be convenient, but it also opens up the possibility of unintentional mistakes. Google Sheets allows you to lock sheets or particular cells to prevent accidental changes of sensitive data. The Range Editing Permissions can show a warning beforehand or restrict editing altogether.
It’s no surprise that Apple has an alternative to Microsoft Excel. Numbers is a spreadsheet software program included in the iWork Productivity Suite. The program is designed to work on various Apple devices, making it the best spreadsheet software for Mac.
Regarded by many as a powerful spreadsheet software solution, Numbers has several functions similar to its more popular alternative. Individuals and big teams can take advantage of these distinct features listed below.
- Handwritten To Text
One of the convenient qualities of Apple Numbers is converting handwritten data from Scribble and Apple Pencil to typed text. This is helpful if you are in a meeting and were tasked to take down notes for reports later. There’s no need to type manually because the app does the work for you.
- Built-In Templates
While Excel also offers a multitude of templates, Numbers have an impressive collection of pre-formatted templates to make your work easier. If you want to create a spreadsheet for invoicing, planning, scheduling, budgeting, and many others, the application has them available.
- Spreadsheet Collaboration
As the best spreadsheet software for Mac, Numbers offers collaboration tools that make it simple to share and annotate Numbers files. If you want to share a Numbers document with others, open it, choose File, and then Share.
Like with other spreadsheet software, users may leave comments by selecting Insert and clicking on Comment. If many users are working on the same file, they can set comment colors to make it easier to trace who authored a particular remark.
- Shapes Library
If you want to present a dynamic document and spreadsheet layout, Numbers can deliver that and more. You will have access to more than 700 shapes designed by Apple. These shapes are fully customizable, as you can change their size, color, or add text. The app also allows you to design custom shapes if you find the built-in ones do not fit your preferences.
OpenOffice is considered by many the best open-source productivity suite. It is the result of the work of various software engineers to provide free office software for everyone. The open-source license indicates that OpenOffice won’t require any payments anytime soon.
As one of the best free spreadsheet software options, the Apache OpenOffice Calc has more than enough features to compete with its more popular rivals. Here are a couple of distinct qualities of this spreadsheet app.
New spreadsheet software users will find the interface of this tool to be intuitive. In fact, those who are used to Excel won’t experience too much learning curve because the developers have patterned the spreadsheet interface to be very similar.
Data miners and advanced users will appreciate the Apache OpenOffice Calc because of its range of comprehensive functions.
Similar to other options, this program also allows members of large teams to collaborate by sharing spreadsheets. Authors may add, edit, and change data or delegate others to do these tasks.
- Data Pilot
You can use the Data Pilot feature on the OpenOffice Calc to extract raw data from various corporate databases. Then, you can cross-tabulate or summarize them for optimal data management.
Which Is the Best Pick?
Despite what many believe, Excel is not the only worthy choice for spreadsheet software. Each of the programs listed here has its set of advantages and disadvantages, so there’s no definitive answer as to which is the best one.
In the end, it’s all up to your preferences if you want to go for the classic, the free online, the Mac alternative, or the free open-source.
Spreadsheet Software FAQs
1. What to look for in a spreadsheet software?
To help you decide which spreadsheet software to use, here are the core features that make them invaluable for almost everyone.
The workspace is primarily divided into rows and columns. Rows pertain to the vertical part and are identified by numbers on the left side. Columns run horizontally and are labeled by letters on the top.
The boxes we see on spreadsheet software are referred to as cells. They are situated at the intersection where rows and columns meet. Most of the work is done on the cells, whether for simple data entry or applying formulas to help expedite data analysis.
Most, if not all, spreadsheet software are designed to accommodate specific formulas to provide data insights. You can create a new formula based on your needs or select one of the program’s predefined choices.
Formulas increase the accessibility of your data, which allows you to make more educated conclusions or better decisions.
Data Organization and Customization
One of the most-used functionalities of spreadsheet software is creating graphs, dropdown lists, filters, and other data organization features. You may also use tools to convert your data into graphs, bar charts, and pies.
Applying colors and a variety of styles are entirely dependent on your preferences. If you have a company theme, it takes only a couple of clicks to match your presentation with it.
Some work requires multiple people working on a single spreadsheet simultaneously. Thanks to today’s advances in technology, you can collaborate with others without the need to share your computer or login credentials. This leads to faster output and can be a significant factor in increasing productivity.
Collaboration features of spreadsheet software can be different. For example, Microsoft Excel only allows one-user access at a given time, while Google Sheets can handle multiple users simultaneously.
2. Who is more likely to use spreadsheet software?
Almost all companies will certainly need spreadsheet software for various purposes. Data entry jobs usually include the use of spreadsheets as part of their daily operations. Advanced users often include accountants, market researchers, marketing staff, sales teams, engineers, instructors, and other related professions.
Students are also likely to use a spreadsheet application to track their expenses, schedule, budget, and other relevant aspects of their education.
3. How do spreadsheets help in decision-making?
Spreadsheets may offer a rational foundation for making decisions. The number of options and criteria available can often be daunting. Using a spreadsheet framework, you can establish a set of criteria and score the available choices based on them to highlight the ones with the highest rank.
4. Can you create HTML in a spreadsheet application?
Converting your spreadsheet into HTML won’t provide too many advantages except if you are designing a web page. Excel offers an easy method to process this request.
Go to the Office 365 website and create a new workbook. Type or copy-paste your tabular data to the blank workspace and select File-Share-Embed-Generate.
5. How many cells are there in a spreadsheet?
Every program has a different maximum cell count for every spreadsheet. In Excel, the limit is over 17 billion and 10 million for Google Sheets.
Apple states that Numbers can only handle up to 255 columns or 65,535 rows, and you can’t max them out at the same time. For OpenOffice Calc, the current limit is more than eight million cells.
6. Can you use a spreadsheet app for project management?
Most spreadsheet software may not be enough, but it has many features similar to what’s available on dedicated project management apps. The usual indicator of when a spreadsheet app is sufficient is the size of your company and your workforce.
Once you have more than four people managing the different aspects of your business, it would be inconvenient to rely on Excel or Google Sheets to track your progress.Missed updates and deadlines can cost you clients and business opportunities. A spreadsheet program usually doesn’t have the capability to provide notifications or remind you about priority tasks. As much as possible, it would be better to utilize a dedicated project management app like Monday.com or HubSpot.