When to Use Microsoft® Excel® for Text Products

Microsoft® does a good job of creating different software for different core business functions, however, there can be some overlap between tools.  For example, we often select Microsoft® Word for text-heavy documents with tables, but there are times when Excel® may be your best starting point.

Here are examples of when it may be best to create a text-based document in Excel®:

  • When you need to sort or filter information. For example, you may want to sort by last name or by State down the road, or by a specific criterion, like interest area or special qualification.  While these data may be text based, using Excel® will help you slice and dice the data differently down the road.
  • The entire document is table based. If your document is only going to have one table in it, you may want to consider Excel® rather than Word. This is particularly the case when the text blocks aren’t longer than 1 to 2 sentences each. This leaves you options for the future – and, if you change your mind, you can always copy and paste the Excel® cells into Word and format there.
  • When you may need to add, count or group items. If columns of numbers are an important part of your table, and if there is any possibility that you are going to want to add those columns up, or count rows that meet a specific criterion (like the number of rows in a State, or the number of rows that fall into a certain category), then Excel® can provide you with more options than hand-counting in Word.

 Before starting your document, think about your goal, and what tool will serve that goal best. Microsoft® generally handles inter-tool compatibility well – in other words, it is easy to paste an Excel® table or chart into Word later on.  PowerPoint® and Publisher® are also popular destination tools for Excel® outputs.  Just copy from Excel® and “Paste Special” in the destination tool to pick the best option for your needs.