When to Use Word Tables Versus Excel Worksheets



Have you ever needed to display words or numbers side by side in rows and columns? For example, a list of products and prices, or maybe items and descriptions. Often, a clean format of rows and columns is the perfect solution. But before you get to work, you need to decide whether to use a table in Word or a spreadsheet in Excel. Here are a few guidelines for what works best in various scenarios.

When to Use a Word Table

Paragraphs with a lot of words: When you need to use several words or sentences for a single segment, using a Word table is the easiest way to enter text. You have the flexibility of making each row as high as you want, and you can even add bullets or indents within each cell.

Creating forms: Many forms require customized layouts for each part, and Word gives you endless options for working with inconsistent column widths and row heights. Often, rows need to be split into multiple portions, or alternatively, several rows or columns may be merged together. A Word table offers maximum flexibility for form layout, and even gives you easy options for inserting useful elements such as checkboxes.

Inserting diagrams or images: Word tables allow many configurations of rows and columns, and you also have ample space to insert objects such as diagrams or images to correspond to the text. For example you can show instructions in one column, and a picture beside them in the same row.


When to Use an Excel Worksheet

Making Calculations: An Excel sheet offers more than just a display of words or numbers. It’s specially designed to locate numbers and perform calculations when you enter a formula.

Display a grid: Whether empty or filled with numbers, it’s easy to create a grid of horizontal and vertical lines in Excel. Just select the area and use the All Borders button. Then you can resize rows and columns later.

Data manipulation: Let’s say you have a master list of sales people, their territories, and summaries of their sales per quarter. In Excel, you have a variety of options for how to display the headings and numbers according to your particular focus. For example, you can turn on a feature in the column headings to easily sort or filter by items in the column. You can even create numerical subtotals by section, and hide or display certain sections for custom printing. For more advanced users, you can generate charts from your data, or do advanced data manipulation with pivot tables.

These guidelines give you some ideas for when to use Excel or Word, because it all comes down to the type of information you want to display. If it contains mostly words and phrases, Word is typically the best option. For working with mostly numbers and making calculations, Excel is the best tool for the task.

For more detailed instructions on using Forms check out our Word 2016 Templates & Forms guide.

Don’t miss out on some valuable tips while you consider your options – purchase a quick reference guide for Word 2016 Introduction and for Excel 2016 Tables, PivotTables, Sorting & Filtering.