Difference Between Microsoft Excel & Microsoft Word

By Lance Albertson

Microsoft Excel and Microsoft Word are two software programs in the Microsoft Office suite. Though they are made to work together, they each have different strengths. Word is first and foremost a word processor, while Excel is primarily for numeric calculations.

Word Handles Text Better

Word is made for text documents, including letters, books and academic papers. Text in Excel is usually a brief snippet used to describe the meaning of a number.

Word's for Printing

A Word document is formatted to fit on a specific size page with the text automatically flowing from one page to the next. Excel supports printing, but its page breaks are not obvious, and because it's printing area can extend multiple pages horizontally as well as vertically the page breaks can be difficult to manage.

Excel's Numeric Calculations

Excel allows you to perform complex calculations where changing one number causes many other calculated numbers to change as well. Excel includes an extensive library of built-in formulas to help you perform those calculations.

Excel File Is a Table

An Excel file displays as rows and columns extending well off the page vertically and horizontally which allows it to accommodate tables that range from only a couple of columns and rows to huge tables with hundreds of columns and thousands of rows. Although Word supports tables it cannot handle large tables as well as Excel.

Word Supports Footnotes

Because word is page oriented it supports features, such as footnotes and table of contents that don't make sense for a table. Other page-oriented concepts, including centering text horizontally on a page, are very easy in Word, but make no sense in Excel.