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Microsoft Excel helps you store, organize and process large quantities of data in spreadsheets. In addition, it facilitates data analysis and creates various types of graphs. Due to its large number of features, it is difficult to master them all. However, users can start using its basic functions from day one. Fortunately, there is a lot of documentation, including video tutorials, on how to use it. Moreover, there is a “what do you want to do?” dialog that provides you with quick assistance.
Microsoft Excel has a modern interface. In fact, some of its characteristics are so successful that they have been largely imitated in other products. This is the case of ribbons, a substitute for the common menu and toolbar, which helps you access the desired function more easily.
If you have used other spreadsheet editors before, it is unlikely that you have any difficulty to use Microsoft Excel’s basic functions. It has the same old grid structure with columns and rows. Likewise, each cell can hold various types of data, such as text, date, numeric and currency.
However, its real power is unleashed when you use formulas to perform some kinds of calculations. In this respect, there is a wide range of formulas you can use, organized into categories, like financial, date and time, mathematical, trigonometrical, statistical, logical and database. Fortunately, formulas are automatically completed as you type them. Regrettably, errors in the formulas are possible and the help you get does not always solve the issue.
One of the most frequently used Excel functions is graphs. Luckily, the tool can generate various types of graphs, like pie charts, columns, bars, lines and cascade. Likewise, you can use pivot tables to summarize and organize data with efficiency. Some operations can also be automated with VB code; however, you should be careful, as buggy code can cause the application to crash.
As to sharing with others, the application can import and export to multiple formats. In addition, the XLS and XLSX formats are practically standard and supported by many other tools.
Regrettably, I really wish the tool had more collaboration features. It is good that Microsoft Excel lets you protect entire workbooks or just parts of them to prevent accidental deletion of formulas, for example. However, it does not allow setting different types of privileges based on the kind of user. Moreover, its version control is poor; so, you may sometimes need to install third-party extensions for comparing different versions of the same book.
All in all, Microsoft Excel is probably the best tool of its kind in the market. Nevertheless, you should bear in mind that it is just a spreadsheet application, not a database manager, which makes it more vulnerable to errors and prevents it from creating relations between tables. The application is sold as part of the Office suite, which is considered unaffordable for many people. If you are running on a low budget, you should probably consider other alternatives. Some of them are mere imitations available for a lower price and even free.
- Stores large quantities of data of different types
- Multiple templates
- Great format compatibility
- Multiple kinds of formulas
- Creates beautiful graphs
- Generates pivot charts
- Supports automation with VB code
- Buggy VB code can cause the app to crash
- Not many collaboration features