Okay, we'll just say it: The thought of a spreadsheet probably isn't going to make you buzz with excitement. But the reality is that spreadsheets are necessary, helpful, and reliable tools in the working world.
Whether you want to create a budget, set up a pivot table, keep track of your daily tasks, or process and visualise data submitted through a form, spreadsheets provide a powerful solution for organising a lot of information.
To reap the benefits, you first need to create your spreadsheet. Luckily, there are a huge variety of spreadsheet applications that make it easy to get started. Here are eight of the best spreadsheet software options for you to evaluate so you can get set up in a way that's completely painless (well, almost).
From simple to comprehensive, there's no shortage of spreadsheet programs for you to think through. Wading through your options will be a lot easier if you have a clear idea of what you're actually looking for.
Here are four different questions to ask yourself before starting your quest for the perfect spreadsheet application for your business:
Despite the immediate image of rows of data, spreadsheets are surprisingly flexible. They can create interactive charts or performance reports. They can be used to plan marketing campaigns, simplify project management, and everything in between.
Spreadsheet programs offer hundreds of functions and a wide range of capabilities. So, try to narrow down what you'll use spreadsheets for most frequently. That will help you find a flexible platform that's the best fit for your most common tasks.
Related to the above, it's also smart to zone in on what specific features you'll need for the use cases you identified.
Do you need a super simple spreadsheet interface? Do you need advanced calculations? Do you need file sharing? Are you going to be working with massive data sets? Do you need real-time collaboration within your spreadsheet?
Spreadsheet solutions run the gamut from ordinary spreadsheet software to advanced functionality and custom functions. Get a grasp on what features are on your must-have list to make sure your chosen spreadsheet application checks those boxes.
While a spreadsheet might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you picture teamwork, they can be surprisingly effective collaboration tools.
Will your spreadsheets need to be accessible by all sorts of different employees and teams? Or will certain people or departments be using them more than others?
Knowing who'll use your spreadsheets—and how many people could be working on them at the same time—will help you choose a spreadsheet program that makes collaboration easier, rather than a major headache.
You can get some pretty incredible spreadsheet software options for no cost at all. But, if you're looking for some super niche or advanced features, you might need to pay for your spreadsheet application.
Take a look at your budget and know how much you're willing to spend per month or per year—if anything—on a spreadsheet program. The last thing you want is to fall in love with an option and realise you can't afford it.
Now that you know your criteria, it's time to start combing through your options. We've pulled together eight of the most popular and most loved spreadsheet applications on the market to help you start your search.
Keep in mind that "best" means something different to everyone, and each of these spreadsheet programs has its own selling points and use cases. We've noted what each of these programs does best, so you can get the gist of each one's key features and applications upfront.
The quick gist: It's the best (and often default) spreadsheet software overall.
Simply utter the word "spreadsheet'' and most people will picture Microsoft Excel. In fact, it's the default choice for a lot of people and businesses.
It can easily be used to create a conventional spreadsheet to keep track of contact information or budgets. But, Excel has far more robust features beyond simple spreadsheets.
With 3D charts and graphs, real-time collaboration features, and even the ability to add data directly to Excel from a photo, Excel is packed with functionality. Put simply, it can be as straightforward or as state-of-the-art as you need it to be.
You can purchase Microsoft Excel for one computer for $159.99. However, if you need other Microsoft Office programs, you can save some money by purchasing Microsoft 365 starting at $6.99 per month. That'll give you Excel, along with other popular applications like Word, PowerPoint, Outlook, and OneDrive.
The quick gist: It's the best free spreadsheet software, no contest.
Some people might think of Microsoft Excel as dated and antiquated, particularly if they're loyal and avid users of Google Sheets, which is Excel's cloud-based rival.
Google Sheets' interface looks a lot like Excel and has all of the standard spreadsheet features and functionality you'd expect to see (like formulas and data formatting) along with other helpful ones like smart-filled suggestions and seamless connections to other Google apps.
But where Google Sheets really shines is for collaboration. You can easily share spreadsheets and people can work together in the same spreadsheet at the same time. Detailed version history makes it easy to see all of the changes that have been made and even revert to earlier versions if you need to.
Plus, since most people access Google Sheets through their browser, app, or Google Drive, you can always get to the spreadsheets you need — regardless of where you are or what device you're on.
One of the best parts about Google Sheets? It's absolutely free. You can update to a Business Standard plan for $12 USD per month to get access to other Google features and apps. But, it's not necessary if you only need to create spreadsheets.
The quick gist: It's the best spreadsheet software for Mac users who need the basics.
Numbers is the spreadsheet application that comes included with most Mac devices. Again, you'll find all of the standard spreadsheet functionality. However, since it's an Apple product, you can expect a lot more emphasis on design.
In numbers, you can apply colours, gradients, and images to the background of any sheet. You can choose from more than 700 Apple-designed shapes in the shapes library. You can use an assortment of beautiful charts to display your data, choose from a variety of custom templates, and even turn your own handwriting into text.
Apple Numbers isn't just about creating spreadsheets—it's about creating stunning spreadsheets that bring your data and information to life.
Apple Numbers is a free software application that comes installed on most Mac devices. If you're a PC user, you can still use it. But, you'll need iWork for iCloud in order to access Apple Numbers. Don't worry, that's free too.
The quick gist: It's the best free and open-source spreadsheet software.
LibreOffice Calc might be a spreadsheet solution that you're not as familiar with, but that doesn't mean that it doesn't deserve a spot on this list.
You'll find plenty of basic and advanced spreadsheet features, along with some other notable ones like Scenario Manager, which allows you to run "what if…" analyses with the click of a button. Calc also has multiple-user support that allows you to share a spreadsheet and integrate any new data with a few clicks (preventing any toe-stepping or editing chaos).
What makes Calc even more unique is that it's open-source, which means it's constantly being used, tested, and improved by a devoted user community.
LibreOffice (which is an office products suite that includes Calc along with other programs like Writer, Impress, Draw, Base, and Math) is completely free.
The quick gist: It's the best spreadsheet software for project management and anything beyond regular spreadsheet tasks.
You'll typically find ClickUp among productivity tools and project trackers, rather than grouped strictly with spreadsheet apps. It's a comprehensive collaboration tool that has tasks, documents, chats, and more all in one place.
When it comes to organising your daily tasks, projects, and work, ClickUp's Table view boasts that it can replace other applications like Airtable, Google Sheets, or Microsoft Excel. It's easy to create spreadsheets and databases to manage anything from inventories to client information.
While some spreadsheet aficionados might find it lacking in some of the more advanced features and calculation tools, it's a great option for people who want to use a spreadsheet to drive efficiency and bring some order and structure to their work and collaboration.
ClickUp is completely free, but you can unlock more features and additional storage with a paid account. Those start at $5 per user per month.
The quick gist: It's the best spreadsheet software for database management.
Airtable promotes itself as a "low-code platform for building collaborative apps." Before you write it off as something that sounds way too complex for you, here's a simpler way to think about it: It helps you connect all of your teams and all of the different apps you use in a single spot.
Airtable offers some spreadsheet features and views that look like typical spreadsheets. However, the platform is careful to explain that it's not a spreadsheet—it's a database. What's the difference? You won't use Airtable to run calculations and formulas.
Instead, you'll create a highly-customised space (which can look like a spreadsheet) where you store all of the information that's relevant to your business. You can also use Airtable to create forms that populate your tables automatically.
Airtable has a free plan that works well for individuals or small teams. A paid plan starts at $10 per seat per month (when billed annually) that provides access to more features and options.
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The quick gist: It's the best spreadsheet software for Salesforce users.
If you're looking for a sales solution more than a straightforward spreadsheet, Quip is your best option. It started as a word processor. But, when it was acquired by Salesforce in 2016, it transformed into a solution to level-up the productivity of sales teams.
It brings all of your documents, spreadsheets, and chats into one place directly inside of the Salesforce platform. The spreadsheets in particular are easy to access on mobile and offer collaborative editing too.
Quip offers a free trial, with plans starting at $10 per user per month when billed annually.
The quick gist: It's the best spreadsheet software for data privacy.
To understand what CryptPad Sheet is, you first need a quick rundown of CryptPad. It's a browser-based collaboration suite (much like Google Drive). But, what sets it apart (beyond being open-source) is its end-to-end encryption. We'll save you the technical lesson, but that means it's super secure and third parties can't easily access your data.
CryptPad has a ton of applications like Whiteboard, Slides, and Rich Text. But, CryptPad Sheet is all about (you guessed it) spreadsheets.
Open it up and you'll see it looks pretty similar to other traditional spreadsheet applications like Excel or Google Sheets. But you can rest easy with the knowledge that all of your data is safe and protected.
CryptPad is completely free software. Plain and simple.
The intricacies of your spreadsheets will probably never make for a scintillating dinner party conversation. Still, spreadsheets are still incredibly useful and important tools for running your business.
From storing client information to hashing out budgets, spreadsheets are one of the best ways to store and sort important data and details.
Another thing they're great for? Organising and gleaning insights from your form responses. Whether it's a new customer inquiry or a job application, connecting Paperform to your spreadsheet tool of choice means you won't just gather data—you'll be able to better understand it, and act on it.
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