The Difference Between Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel

Microsoft Word and Excel

The Difference Between Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel

Rochelle van Rensburg | Oct, 26 2020

Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel are tools in the software productivity package of Microsoft Office. Though they were made to work together, they each have different strengths. They are mostly used in business apps and are widely used in almost every person’s everyday life.

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Depending on your specific needs, we will look at the differences and similarities between MS Word and MS Excel and which one you should use.

Word is an application for word processing used primarily for text documents such as essays, emails, letters, books, resumes, or academic papers where text formatting is essential, creating a readable, printable document. You can easily construct conversational and free-flowing documents with the paragraph, page formatting, and font options of Word, which is quite difficult in Excel. Text in Excel is usually a short snippet used to describe a number’s meaning.

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Text in a Word document is designed to transfer automatically from one paragraph to the next in a particular file size which makes it very simple to print. Although Excel supports printing, its page breaks are not obvious. The print area can be expanded horizontally and vertically by many pages, making it difficult to manage the page breaks which complicates printing.

As MS Word is page orientated, it supports important features such as footnotes and centering text horizontally on a page. These features make no sense in Excel but are very simple to use in Word.

Excel is an application for spreadsheets typically used for numeric calculations. It is shown vertically and horizontally as rows and columns, allowing it to accommodate tables where you can insert data in any pattern you choose.

It allows tables with just a few columns and rows to have thousands of huge columns and rows. Also, it has an extensive library of built-in formulas to help you perform complex calculations. Organizations and businesses find this extremely valuable when preparing expenditures, documenting costs and earnings, planning budgets, and adequately planning fiscal results. Although Word supports tables, it cannot handle large tables as well as Excel.


Know moreWhat Is Microsoft Word Used for in the Workplace? Here’s 5 Ways

Word and Excel


What are the similarities between Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel?


Now that we understand what the key differences are between Word and Excel are, let’s look at the similarities:

  • Both MS Word and Excel allow you to type letters.
  • You can insert letters and hyperlinks in both applications.
  • Both applications form part of the Microsoft Office suite.
  • Both applications have formatting and toolbars.

Although both applications have different purposes, you may sometimes find that you need both when creating documentation. You may need to combine a letter and a table or write a year-end study involving a mixture of the two. This is possible as entire pages can be placed on an Excel sheet, and tables can be embedded in a Word document.


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A great advantage Microsoft offers is a new Office suite for both major mobile operating systems. Each application serves a unique purpose and offers a specific service to its users. Word, Excel, and Powerpoint are combined in one app and are entirely free. When using these apps, however, editing features are somewhat limited.

When you have an in-depth knowledge of MS Office, it means you can make better presentations, use more features in Word, Excel or Access and thus make your mark on work in your style.

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Although both MS Word and MS Excel are different, and each has its own unique and various abilities, they were designed to function together. Should the need arise, they are compatible and can be used together.

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