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Is Google Sheets the Same as Excel

One of the most common questions I get asked is – are Google Sheets and Microsoft Excel pretty much the same, or are they quite different?

The quick and easy answer to this question is that these two spreadsheet programs are very similar but have a handful of differences. For the casual spreadsheet user who does not work with big data, complicated pivot tables, or heavy data analytics, it’s safe to say that Google Sheets and Excel are almost the same.

How They are Similar

In most aspects, Excel and Google Sheets work pretty much the same way.

Both spreadsheet programs allow you to enter data, delete data, and manipulate cells in the same way. Furthermore, most of the commands are named the same thing, and several shortcut keys are the same as well.

On top of that, most of the functions available in Excel are also available in Google Sheets, and most of them work the same way as well. This is also true vice versa.

So if the commands are the same, the layout is similar, and most functions are transferable from one spreadsheet program to the other, then how are Excel and Google Sheets different?

How They are Different

Although Excel and Google Sheets have a similar layout and share a lot of the same commands, the first major difference between them is their menu system.

In Excel, you have what is known as the ribbon. It is simply a graphical set of menus that help you to find and implement specific spreadsheet commands.

In Google Sheets, however, you have the toolbar, which holds an array of the most common commands. Above that, you have a more traditional set of menus.

Therefore, locating the commands in each spreadsheet program can be quite different.

Another major difference is that Google Sheets is better at some things, while Excel is better at others.

For instance, Google Sheets handles checkboxes much better than Excel. However, Excel handles larger datasets much better and implements pivot tables more efficiently as well.

Another big difference is that charts, shapes, and other objects seem to be much easier to work with inside Excel rather than in Google Sheets. On the other hand, Google Sheets makes it easier to share and collaborate on specific files.

As you can see, there are a lot of subtle differences between the two, and I could go on and list many more if I wanted to. But I do not want to make you read all of that.

The main point is that Google Sheets and Excel are very similar, but there are subtle differences. Excel is better at some things, while Google Sheets is better at others.

In a Nutshell

Overall, Google Sheets is not the same as Excel. However, the two spreadsheet programs are very similar.

Here are a few similarities.

  • Data input
  • Cell manipulation
  • General layout and tab structure
  • Most commands
  • Most functions
  • Most formatting

Here are a few differences.

  • The layout of menus and commands
  • Sharing capabilities
  • Pivot table ease of use
  • Checkbox ease of use
  • Certain functions
  • Data analysis capabilities
  • Ease of sharing and collaboration
  • Working with charts, shapes, and other objects

Hopefully, this article helps a little bit in answering the question of how Excel and Google Sheets are different and how they are the same.

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