Whenever we think of spreadsheet software, Microsoft Excel is the most common example that comes to our mind. Over the years, several spreadsheet software and tools have been launched into the market.
They are mostly compatible with Excel files and support additional spreadsheet features not present in MS Excel. Most of these popular tools are free of cost, unlike MS Excel.
This article discusses some of the best spreadsheet software for meeting business requirements like forecasting, tracking, planning and more. They can help teams manipulate and analyze numerous data sets for efficient project management and completion.
Uses of Spreadsheet Software
Spreadsheet software can be used for diverse applications for personal and business use, regardless of the size and scale. Some of the popular benefits of any free spreadsheet software are:
Budget creation: You can prepare the personal and business expenses budget with the best spreadsheet application. It helps in analyzing the state of finances for better planning and filing income tax returns. Most free spreadsheet software available in the market offer templates for creating budget quickly.
Data storage: Top free spreadsheet software can act as a database and compute students’ grades for different subjects. Businesses can store customer data, product data, and more with any spreadsheet application.
Accounting: With an electronic spreadsheet, it is easy to track day-to-day sales activities and store totals, averages, and other useful expenses. Calculations are automatically done through simple formulas. This is useful for accounting purposes as businesses can track all activities.
Statistical analysis: It supports functions for basic statistical analysis like correlations, regression, Chi-square, among others. You can easily identify inaccurate data and get accurate results.
Creation of graphs and charts for presentation: The best spreadsheet software provides several graphs and charts to make complex data analysis easier. This is beneficial for comparison and reporting. Visual representation also helps in retaining information better. There are several customization options to present it in the way you want.
Project Management: Most free spreadsheet software options offer collaboration features for teams working on projects together. You can easily track progress and see the changes made. There is a choice to restore the previous version too.
Features You Would Get with Free Spreadsheet Software
The free Spreadsheet software offers various features to collect, organize, analyze, and store data. Some of the standard features available in a free MS Excel alternative are:
Workbook: A workbook is a collection of worksheets where all the data entry and calculations take place. You can add more worksheets and switch between worksheets easily.
Rows and columns: Every Excel substitute comes with a grid system of columns (vertical bars) and rows (horizontal bars) for easier organization, calculation, and data visualization. Column header is usually an alphabet name, while row label is a number.
The intersection of rows and columns are represented by cells. For example, intersection of column A and row 7 will give A7 cell.
Menu bar: A menu bar has all the regular functions of a file like saving, editing, inserting, and more. Sometimes, a Microsoft Excel alternative also provides a ribbon tab that consists of related commands, which are usually a part of the same task in terms of logic.
In-built/ custom functions and formulas: Most commonly used functions and formulas such as addition, count, average, minimum/ maximum are already available in the spreadsheet program.
You can also build your custom formula for repetitive calculations. The number of in-built functions varies based on spreadsheet software being used.
Sorting and visualization: A spreadsheet software has options to create dropdown lists and tables, which can be filtered and arranged according to different rules. You can also create bar graphs, pie charts, and so on.
Formatting and styling: Users can apply custom formatting like color, font, and more to an individual or multiple cells. You can also add headers, choose alignment, merge cells, among other such options.
Best Spreadsheet Software Examples as Microsoft Excel Alternative – Free and Paid
- Google Sheets
- Zoho Sheet
- LibreOffice Calc
- Apple Numbers
- Apache OpenOffice Calc
- WPS Office Spreadsheets
- Ability Office
Some of the best free spreadsheet software that can act as alternatives to their commercial counterparts like Microsoft Excel are:
Google Sheets is a online spreadsheet service that has a similar interface and functionalities to MS Excel. It offers pre-made spreadsheet templates for finance management, scheduling, and more. Users can get a data overview to gain useful insights.
Sharing and real-time collaboration features make it simpler to work in teams with Google sheets online. With the revision history option, tracking all changes becomes easy.
With Google Sheets, you can convert the format of created spreadsheets to that of MS Excel and vice versa. This Spreadsheet application can also work offline, and it offers up to 15 GB of storage for free.
Google Sheets Price to Upgrade: It offers a 14-day free trial. Business Starter plan for Google Workspace starts at INR 125 per user per month.
You can also purchase Business Standard and Business Plus plans for higher storage. If there are more than 300 users, pricing of Enterprise version is available on request.
Compatible Platforms: Web (Firefox, MS Edge, Chrome, Safari), iOS, Android 9.0+
Zoho Sheet is cloud-based spreadsheet software that lets users collaborate in teams to create spreadsheets and reports. It has user-specific cell lock and editing options which are absent in Excel. Data importing tools, default version backups and integration options help in ensuring a smooth user experience.
Zoho Sheet includes over 350 functions and the option to add custom functions. With AI-powered Zia assistant, you can get automated pivot tables, charts, and more.
You can also create data entry validations to prevent errors while duplicates get removed automatically. Zoho spreadsheet is compatible with .csv, .ods, .tsv and multiple other file formats.
Price to Upgrade: The mobile apps are free. You can purchase the complete Zoho Workplace software starting at INR 99 per user per month when billed annually.
Compatible Platforms: Web-based, free scrapbook software for iOS, Android
LibreOffice Calc is a free, open-source spreadsheet software capable of handling large data sets. This free Excel alternative offers templates as well as styling and formatting options for borders, backgrounds, and more.
You can easily solve optimization problems where values need to be calculated according to different constraints. Its DataPilot tool lets users combine raw data and use it in spreadsheets.
Users can share their spreadsheet with others and integrate the changes in a few clicks to block conflicts. The online spreadsheet software can save sheets in both its native .odf (open document) and MS Excel formats.
Price to Upgrade: None. It is free and open-source (MPLv2.0 license).
Compatible Platforms: Free spreadsheet software for Linux, Windows, Mac, Android, BS.
Suggested Read: Top 8 MS Office 365 Apps to Help Students Bring Out Their Best
Apple Numbers free spreadsheet software is the preferred option for visually appealing graphics, while Excel is used for plotting features as it has more functions.
Unlike Excel that works on both Windows and Mac, Numbers is compatible with Apple devices.In the latest version, instant translation of the selected text is possible in 11 languages.
Filters help in finding duplicate or unique values in the spreadsheet data. Participants can easily share their spreadsheets with others. It also supports radar charts and pivot tables for data analysis.
Apple Numbers Price to Upgrade: None. It is freeware software.
Compatible Platforms: iOS, Mac
Apache OpenOffice Calc
Apache OpenOffice Calc is a free Excel alternative that enables users to choose from several templates and advanced functions for various purposes like marketing budgets, scheduling, GPA calculations, etc.
With the DataPilot feature, you can use raw data from databases and change it to useful information. For example, you can form word-based formulas using the Natural language formulas option.
Apache OpenOffice Calc has easy-to-use formatting options for cell borders, background, and more. Spreadsheet owners can share the files with others in even pdf or MS Excel format and add the changes made by others.
Price to Upgrade: None. It is free and open-source.
Compatible Platforms: Free spreadsheet software for Windows, Linux, Mac OS
Stackby software is a spreadsheet-database hybrid tool that works as a relational database and allows users to choose from over 25 different column types, including ratings, dropdowns, and more.
It also has over 100 pre-built templates and collaboration features such as row-wise comments and task-based checklists for better working in teams.
Users can visualize their data in Kanban, grid, calendar, and other popular layouts. This Microsoft Excel alternative lets you import data from Google Sheets, MS Excel, and CSV files. It offers 2GB attachment storage per stack (database) in the free plan.
Stackby Pricing to Upgrade: Paid options include Personal, Economy, Business, and Enterprise editions. Pricing starts at INR 350 for every user each month. Discounted pricing is available for NGOs or non-profits, and educational organizations.
Compatible Platforms: Web-browser, iOS, Android, Windows, macOS.
Gnumeric is open-source spreadsheet software that can easily handle large spreadsheets with its in-built functions and tools. It can automatically interpret and classify data to different data types. You can create and display data plots using pie charts, line graphs, radar charts, and so on.
The Gnumeric spreadsheet tool has several formatting options to change font, background color, character alignment, border, and more. In addition, users can print plots, spreadsheets, and tables in PDF or PostScript form.
It also supports files from spreadsheet programs such as MS Excel, Quattro Pro, and OpenOffice. Other features include auto-saving workbooks, reminders, reports, and much more.
Price to Upgrade: None. It is free and open-source (under the GNU General Public License).
Compatible Platforms: Windows, Linux, BSD
Suggested Read: LibreOffice vs MS Office vs WPS Office
EtherCalc is an online spreadsheet tool that lets users quickly get started with working on spreadsheets without signing up. A unique URL is created for every electronic spreadsheet where you can work with other people simultaneously.
You can view changes made by all members of a team in real-time. With this Excel substitute, it is also possible to audit trail all sessions.
There are several function categories like Math, statistics, test, financial, text, and more to choose from. EtherCalc supports .xlsx, .ods, and other popular file formats.
Price to Upgrade: None. It is open-source and free.
Compatible Platforms: Web-based free scrapbook software
WPS Office Spreadsheets
WPS Office Spreadsheets is an easy-to-use spreadsheet program that offers numerous functions and formulas to analyze complex data. It is fully compatible with Excel and supports file formats like xlsx, xls, and csv.
With more than 230 fonts and other formatting options, you can present the data in aesthetic tables. This spreadsheet solution also provides custom templates of spreadsheet reports and several keyboard shortcuts to speed up the process.
In addition, there are in-built custom charts like pie charts, bar charts, scatter charts, and so on.
Price to upgrade: The premium version starts at INR 2225.75 per year. Mobile apps have in-app purchases. You can also purchase one time Professional or Business licenses.
Compatible Platforms: Free spreadsheet software for Mac, Linux, Windows, iOS, Android
Spread32 is an Excel substitute that lets users create, modify, and manage spreadsheets. It has an intuitive interface and hundreds of functions and formulas.
You can add drawings and charts to display data easily understandable with the available drawing elements with this free spreadsheet program.
With macro functions, it is possible to automate and speed up different tasks. Spread32 supports multiple file formats like xlt, xls, txt, csv, among others.
Users can choose from different interface languages like Italian, Chinese, Turkish, German, Spanish, and so on while working on this free Excel alternative.
Price to Upgrade: None. It is freeware software.
Compatible Platforms: Free spreadsheet solution for Windows
Upgrade from Free Spreadsheet Software: Examples for You
Airtable is a spreadsheet database hybrid application that offers live collaboration features for automated workflows. It supports calendar, grid, form, among other types of views for project management.
There are templates for product planning, project tracker, content calendar, marketing campaign tracking, among others. You can view the history of previous changes and restore the spreadsheet to a previous version.
This alternative to Excel can also integrate with tools like Jira Cloud, Hootsuite, Salesforce, etc.
Airtable Pricing: You can get started with a free plan. Paid plans begin at INR 743.39 for every user per month on an annual subscription to Plus plan.
For more features, you can choose Pro or Enterprise plan. Free trial is available before purchase.
Compatible Platforms: Web, Mac, Windows, Android, iOS
Suggested Read: Benefits of Using Productivity Tools at Workplace
Quip is productivity software that enables users to work on spreadsheets. It provides all common formulae and over 400 functions like gamma, sine, concatenation, Poisson distribution, etc.
Keyboard shortcuts for menu items help speed up the tasks like selecting rows and columns in this alternative to Excel. You can also import files from OpenOffice, CSV, and Microsoft Excel. Built-in chat provides the ability to collaborate, like, revert, and respond to changes made by others.
Quip Pricing: It offers a free trial. Annual pricing starts at the rate of INR 741.17 per user per month for the Starter Plan. For large teams, you can purchase Quip Plus and Advanced plans.
Compatible Platforms: Web, Mac, Windows, Android, iOS
Smartsheet allows users to set up sheets and work with their team members in real-time for effective project management. You can get your work done quickly by automating repetitive tasks in the electronic spreadsheet. The sheet can be viewed as a Gantt chart, grid, calendar, among others.
With Smartsheet, you can add numerous files, documents, and pictures to different tasks via an attachment of storage of over 20 GB, depending on the plan. This Excel substitute offers support for Google Workspace, Microsoft 365, and more.
Smartsheet Pricing: It offers a free trial. Pricing of the Pro plan starts at INR 520.156 for every user per month when billed annually. At least 3 users and a maximum of 25 users must be there for this plan.
For more options, you can select Business or Enterprise plan. Non-profit organizations get discounts on pricing.
Compatible Platforms: Web, Android, iOS
PlanMaker is part of the SoftMaker Office, enabling users to create visually appealing tables through the Tables in Worksheets feature. With its pre-set templates, users can format cells quickly.
This Microsoft Excel alternative has over 400 arithmetic functions for performing financial and statistical calculations. You can apply auto sum, autofill, auto product on multiple rows and columns.
On integration with the diagram module, users can present numerical data in the form of figures (2D/ 3D charts). Other features include customizable keyboard shortcuts, installation of dictionaries, and more.
PlanMaker Pricing: It is a free spreadsheet software for schools and teachers. Moreover, SoftMaker Office license works for 5 personal computer systems or 1 business system at a time.
Therefore, you can purchase it at a one-time price (minimum) of INR 5921.896. Upgrade pricing starts at INR 3699.796.
Compatible Platforms: Spreadsheet software for Windows, Linux, Android, Mac
Ability Office offers MS Excel-compatible spreadsheet applications for both academic and business purposes. It supports over 250 in-built functions, macros and pivot tables to make complex calculations easier.
You have the option to insert auto shapes, more than 25 chart types and vector drawings in the sheet. There are several print and display properties like setting print area, selecting grid, previewing page breaks, etc.
Ability Office spreadsheet software also supports the import and export of OpenOffice and LibreOffice files.
Ability Office Pricing: This MS Excel alternative offers a 30-day free trial. You can purchase Ability Office’s personal license at INR 2971.577. Upgrade option costs INR 1485.417. For more users, you can purchase Team or Small Business licenses.
Compatible Platforms: Windows
Popular Spreadsheet Terminologies
Some popular Spreadsheet terminologies are:
|Workbook||Collection of spreadsheets|
|Row||Horizontal line in a spreadsheet|
|Column||Vertical line in a spreadsheet|
|Cell||Area formed by intersection of a row and column|
|Active Cell||Currently selected cell|
|Charts||Pictorial representation of data. Can be of different types like a line graph, pie charts, bar charts, and more.|
|Auto-Fill||Option to copy data to multiple cells|
|AutoSum||Feature to calculate sum of data in selected cells|
|Formula||Datatype to perform calculations and display results. Example: =SUM (B5:B10)|
|Functions||Pre-built complex formulas|
|Pivot Table||Tool for summarizing data from a table. Used for sorting, finding average, calculating sum, and more.|
|Data Validation||Feature to avoid wrong data from being entered into cells|
Suppose your go-to spreadsheet application is Excel till now. In that case, you must try these free and paid options that have features to support your business requirements and observe growth in productivity.