Excel VS Sheets

Tables VS Tables...whose is better?

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Tools I’m using…

Google Sheets has TABLES!

I’ve touched on this already, but wanted to do a breakdown to see how it stacks up against Excel in a few key areas:

  1. Creating Tables

  2. Formatting

  3. Sorting

  4. Filtering

  5. Formulas & Referencing

  6. Adding & Deleting

Here’s the full video walkthrough of the whole thing. Check it out for the in depth analysis, and subscribe to my YouTube channel while you’re over there 👇

Below, I’ll hit the high points of the video.

Creating Tables

This is pretty straightforward, but Excel makes it a hair easier with the simple keyboard shortcut CTRL + T.

In Sheets, you can select Format as Table from the Format menu to do the same thing.

Winner: Excel


Both programs allow a good amount of customization when it comes to formatting, but Excel squeezes out another victory simply because it’s got more options to choose from

Winner: Excel


This makes dealing with tables very handy for visualizing your data. In both programs, sorting is available immediately.

You can access the options from little dropdown menus on the header row of the table.

You can sort by value or even by special criteria like colors.

While both programs include advanced sorting capabilities, Excel’s is once again more robust, allowing for multiple criteria in a layered, custom sorting menu.

Winner: Excel


In much the same fashion as sorting, you can access filter options from that same dropdown menu in either program. And in this case, they both contain much the same capabilities.

Winner: Tie

Formulas & Referencing

Winner: Excel

This is where tables really shine, and why Sheets users (myself included) have long bemoaned their absence.

We can reference table values dynamically using special syntax for our functions and custom formulas.

=TableName[col_name] is the basic structure. This allows us to call in values from our tables just like we’d use named ranges in our spreadsheets.

Both programs operate in this way, however, Excel formulas spill down.

This means that you type it once, and it spills down through every row of your table.

In Sheets, you have to drag the formula down just like any other formula.

See around the 11 minute mark in my walkthrough to see what I mean.

Adding & Deleting

It’s simple to add or delete rows or columns to your table range. First, in both programs, if you simply begin typing in a row or column that is adjacent to the existing table, a new row or column will be added.

The spreadsheets are both smart enough to figure that you’d like to extend the range.

You can also right click on the rows or columns to insert a new one.

In Excel, you’re limited to inserting to the left (for a column) and above (for a row), while in Sheets you can insert either to the left or right or above or below.

But, with Excel you do have the ability to quickly delete with the keyboard shortcut CTRL + -.

So, in my opinion, it’s a tie ballgame for this comparison.

Winner: Tie


Yeah, no surprise, right?

Excel is the winner overall.

But, the good news is that in most use cases, either program will get the job done just fine.

And for Sheets users, this is a HUGE upgrade from what we’ve been stuck with. Previously, we’d have to make do with “fake” tables by applying some alternating color formatting.

This was good for aesthetics, but that’s about it.

I’m very pleased to finally have full-fledged tables in Sheets even if they don’t have quite as many options as Excel…yet!

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Until next time, happy spreadsheeting!

Cheers, Eamonn


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