Spreadsheet software is important for homes, students and businesses, so we’ve put together a lineup with something for all these arenas. We chose good-quality spreadsheet software, with a solid mix of paid-for and free products. To avoid oversimplifying things, we opted not to include very basic models that don’t provide anything other than a basic grid, and we haven’t included programs that aren’t secure, as spreadsheets often deal with sensitive or important data.
We looked at compatibility, versatility, features and available support to determine which spreadsheets deserved a spot on our lineup. If you need a complete office suite, take a look at our office software guide, where you’ll find a nice mix of free and priced options. On this site you will find articles related to spreadsheets as well as reviews of spreadsheet software.
Best Spreadsheet Software for Businesses
Microsoft Excel is our choice for the best spreadsheet software for businesses because of its versatility and functionality. Businesses need software they can rely on, and Excel fits the bill, helping you stay on track with simple or complex spreadsheets. There is an extensive range of formulas that you can use to make calculations or perform specific functions, and you can filter data according to your business needs.
This professional-grade software isn’t free, but it is available with a reasonable monthly subscription, and even after several decades, it’s still the most respected office spreadsheet solution. This software works across PC, Mac and mobile devices. With OneDrive, you can share and access your spreadsheets in the cloud from anywhere and work on them collaboratively. The majority of other file formats are compatible with Excel files, so should someone send you a file in another file format, Excel should be able to open it and render the contents correctly.
Excel is part of the Microsoft Office suite and works well in conjunction with the other programs in the bundle. You can purchase Excel as a stand-alone product, as part of a desktop suite or as part of Office 365. It’s most functional and most cost-effective as part of the Microsoft Office desktop suite or as part of Office 365.
Best Spreadsheet Software for Students
Many of these spreadsheet programs would serve schools and students well. However, LibreOffice Calc stands out because it’s free and open source, so there are no licensing restrictions. This means that schools can provide students with copies of the software and install the software across multiple PCs and laptops without significant expense, and without breaching any licensing terms that may be associated with similar software. Choosing a well-rounded free program also means that any student with a computer can access the software, so it puts every student on a level playing field. Additionally, because it’s open source, LibreOffice, including its Calc software, is a great educational tool for students working on digital and programming skills.
This spreadsheet software has plenty of features and is versatile enough to equal its biggest premium-cost rivals. It has an impressive selection of templates and allows students to create their own or import them from third-party sources. Students and teachers can also use extensions or add-ons designed to increase Calc’s versatility as an educational tool.
Calc is the spreadsheet software included with LibreOffice. It’s a popular choice for academic, home and business users looking for an inexpensive spreadsheet program because it’s open source. The whole office suite it comes in is free and doesn’t have any licensing restrictions.
Best Spreadsheet Software for Home Users
For home users, Google Sheets is our first choice. Part of the Google Apps suite and connected to Google Drive, this spreadsheet software is versatile, free to use and user-friendly. You can easily create to-do lists, schedules and holiday shopping lists, then access them from any computer or mobile device with the Google Drive app. Because it has an array of formulas ready for use, along with a huge number of commonly used templates, this spreadsheet application makes it easy to keep track of home or business finances and to create budgets, calendars, planners, invoices and time sheets.
This is a web-based spreadsheet application, making it easy to access, and you get a generous amount of free cloud storage when you sign up. With its free, easy accessibility and simple usage, Google Sheets is attractive to all kinds of users. It’s easy to share your spreadsheets via email invitation or a link, as well as to set read-only, comment or edit permissions for each person you share with.
Google Sheets is part of the Google Apps suite. Like the rest of the suite's productivity applications, it has a focus on easy collaboration and a simple, user-friendly interface. While it’s not available as a stand-alone application, you’ll likely find yourself using at least some of the other apps on a regular basis.
Compatibility with Microsoft Excel files is key for any spreadsheet software, simply because so many people use that program to create spreadsheets. Therefore, the spreadsheet software you choose should be able to read and write XLS and XLSX files and render them correctly. Choose software that allows you to easily convert your files into PDF format if you want to ensure your spreadsheets cannot be easily altered without leaving an electronic footprint. Creating PDF files also reduces file sizes and lets you easily add password protection. If you create spreadsheets that you want to publish online, choose a program that lets you easily convert spreadsheets into HTML.
How versatile your spreadsheet software should be depends entirely on what you want to use it for. If you’re a student or a professional wanting to impress with your presentation or data collation, you need to be able to integrate graphics and alter the fonts, colors and other aesthetic qualities. If you want simple visual representations of your collected data, you need to be able to easily create charts from your entries.
Consider whether you need remote or mobile access to your spreadsheets. If so, you need an easily shareable or cloud-compatible application. For those who work collaboratively, it’s important to have spreadsheet software that allows simultaneous editing and multi-user functionality. If all you want to do is save, email and print spreadsheets, a desktop-only program will suffice.
The best spreadsheet software programs have extensive formula selections that are easily accessible. Your software should also have a variety of templates on hand for common spreadsheets so you don’t have to lay out budget sheets, calendars and planners from scratch every time. If you’re sharing or collaborating with other people, make sure you can lock or freeze specific columns so others can’t accidentally edit or overwrite them.
Also note how many rows and columns a spreadsheet can accommodate. Some are unlimited, while others restrict you to just 250. If you deal with complex or large quantities of data, choosing a spreadsheet application that features pivot tables makes sense, as they provide an easy way of summarizing data.
Whether you’re an advanced user or a novice, it's invaluable for your software to have a solid support system, including plenty of tutorials, step-by-step instructions and FAQs pages. Having email, phone and forum support at your disposal helps to ensure you don’t get stuck without a solution.