How to Choose a Spreadsheet Program

The three main spreadsheet programs, Microsoft Excel, Google Sheets and Apple Numbers, have many similarities. This makes it difficult to know how to choose the best one for you. This blog post will review the similarities and differences, to help you decide.

First, a glance at a blank spreadsheet in each of these programs.

At a high level, it is easy to see that almost all of the functionality will be the same in all three. The menu structure, for example, File, Edit, View, Insert may be organized slightly differently, but all three programs will have them.

In fact, what you will find is that there is very little functional difference between the three spreadsheet programs. The main difference will be in how it looks, and how you access some of the functionality.

Using this overlay of the three programs, it will be easy to see some of the visual differences.

One of the most basic activities for a person creating a spreadsheet, is to format the text and numbers in the cells. Each program can do this easily. The visual differences are shown below.

Formatting Text:

Using built in mathematical functions:

This video shows some of these differences

The differences between the spreadsheets in terms of functionality are minor. Here are a few things to keep in mind when making the decision of how to choose a spreadsheet program.

If you share spreadsheets with other people, you will need to decide on a standard format for interchange. All of the three spreadsheet programs can create interoperable versions of spreadsheets. However, the translation from one program to another is not seamless or perfect.

If you have a very complex spreadsheet, or will need to transform your spreadsheet from one format to another and back often, then it might be better to work in the standard format for your group.

Also, if there will be multiple people who will work on a spreadsheet simultaneously, then Google Sheets is by far the preferred program.

Often the decision of how to choose a spreadsheet program comes down to using the one you are most familiar with, or that you have the most support for. In any event, feel free to come down to SDM and try them out, or learn more about the one you have chosen.

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