Excel vs Tableau: The Comparison You Should Know

The comparison between Excel vs Tableau or Tableau vs excel is an overwhelming process for the statistics students. But it is not as overwhelming as it is supposed to the students.

Before moving to the difference between excel and Tableau, just think about a question. And the question is: Did you know that? Both of these software offers the same functionalities to perform some tasks. But the enhancement in the functionalities is a lot different between Excel and Tableau.

Moreover, both have their own features that are unbeatable. Like, excel is useful and popular over Tableau as it exists from a long time ago. That is why most of the users are familiar with the functionality of it.

But, Tableau is also not lacking behind as it is listed among the topmost BI tools. Now, you might be confused about which would be the best and with which you should go.

Let me clear your confusion. Below, I have provided the relevant and detailed difference between Excel vs Tableau. This will not only help you understand which is better but also let you know more about both software. So, let’s dive into the details of both softwares.

A small beginner’s guide: What actually excel and tableau is!

Excel is a spreadsheet application powered by Microsoft office. It is used for various types of calculations in math.

Apart from that, it is also used for many statistical operations and analysis of data. Excel offers multiple handy tools to data analysts.

On the other hand, Tableau is one of the most powerful business intelligence tools. It is used for Querying and reporting. 

Apart from that, it is quite helpful in online analytical processing and analytics. It is the best among the best visualization tools. 

In other words, we can say that tableau has begun to enhance business intelligence tools around the world. Besides this, business intelligence software grants to visualize the work and data to non-technical users immediately. 

Tableau enabled business intelligence analysts to be unconventional. Non-technical users can quickly upload the information within the program and start using it directly.

What are the positive and negative points of excel and tableau?

Positive points:

PopularityCentral reporting portal
Low costInteractivity
Editable formulasCommand lines
Editable dataIntuitive interface
Easily compatible with other microsoft productsSpeed up the process of reporting
Offer easy manipulation of cellsModern visuals
FamiliaritiesDelivery option

Negative points:

No report portalThe initial cost is high
Not compatible with non-microsoft productsNeed cost of the server for self-service reporting
Complex dated designUnable to edit data into cells
Need maintenance time to timeTake time to prepare data

Do the data analytics industries need both (or any) of them?

Yes, excel and Tableau are in demand in the data analytics industries.

But, it is necessary to notice that the data analytics industry cannot stick with specific tools to perform data analytics operations. The industry usually switches from excel to Tableau as per their requirements and needs. 

If a business requires to shift from Excel to Tableau, one might meet any end-user comprehension.

Besides this, there are some signs, and the user requires to enhance Excel with Tableau or switch altogether. We have listed two of the most important for it:

  1. One business requires to pull the content information from various resources.
  1. Transporting excel worksheets that have become cumbersome and slow and taking expensive organization time.

Now, it is clear that both have a significant role in the data analytics industry. So, let’s check the difference between both software to get a clear picture to go with.

Check the infographic to understand Excel vs Tableau in a better way!

Head to head comparison: Excel vs Tableau

DefinitionExcel software is used to format, organize, and calculate the data.Tableau Software to visualize and represent the useful insights from the raw data.
BenefitsIt manipulates descriptive statistics.User-friendly, easy interactive visualizations.
UsageTo save the data & manipulations.It uses for Data representation.
Business purposeExcel easily creates on-off reports.Self-service functions can easily pull the useful insights of the raw data.
Real-Time UsageExternal programs or applications need to be set up to get real-time.It offers various real-time interactive deals that work with the raw data.
Ease of useKnowledge of macros and scripting (VB) to use it as full-fledged.There is no need for coding skills.
FieldIn various domains, excel deals with data transformations.Tableau offers business evaluations and key performance parameters.
SolutionIt is best suited and applicable for small-scale and structured data. Tableau provides insights into big data problems.
Stands outExcel stands out the descriptive statistics.Tableau saves a large volume of data.
Data-related problemsExcel has finite resources when dealing with large data. Tableau easily deals with big data to provide relevant insights.
ApplicationsDevelopers, Data analysts, ETL DBA.Data scientists, Data analysts.

Detailed Comparison between Excel vs Tableau

1) Definition

Excel is a spreadsheet application. The spreadsheet software is an electronic worksheet that displays the data in a tabular format. In excel, the data is stored in “cells.” And the data can be manipulated by manually set formulas.

The best part of excel is, it is an excellent tool for data visualization. You can use graphs, charts, or presentations to highlight a particular insight or dataset in excel.

On the other hand, Tableau is a data visualization tool. Tableau format data in a pictorial or graphical view. It is helpful to quickly spot patterns, trends, or correlations between data points. 

It grants users to combine various kinds of the dashboard in Tableau and charts that facilitate interactive analysis. Because of Tableau, one can save a lot of time if one transfers a pre-designed excel dashboard in Tableau. Upload new content and update visuals in Tableau.

The best feature of Tableau is it is connected to third-party tools to pull data. Apart from that, it has user-friendly functionality, like drag-and-drop features or drop-down menus. It allows users to explore data freely and more effectively.

2) Data Discovery

Data discovery is quite helpful for businesses to remain competitive in the markets. It helps enterprises to Find critical insights in data. But the ability of data discovery entirely differs in Excel and Tableau. 

Excel may not be an excellent option for data discovery. While working in Excel, you must think that the data should help you find critical insights. But excel is having the advantage that it saves the data in tabular format.

It helps you to map out your path to insight. It does that with the help of building formulas, visualizations, and information analysis. But the worst part of excel is this entire process causes the problem of drilling down into the data less flexible. Thus it is making it harder to explore information on a granular level. 

On the other hand, Tableau is the best software for data discovery. It allows you to explore data freely. You need not know the answer you want ahead of time.

It has built in drill-down and data blending features. With the help of these features, you’re able to spot correlations and trends. In the end, you can dig down to understand the causes of whatever happens with the data.

3) Automation Functionality

Automatic functionality helps the business in getting up-to-date data to make critical decisions. Both Excel and Tableau have great features to work with static and live data from multiple sources. 

Excel allows you to refresh an Excel worksheet automatically. It involves some manually programming processes, i.e., creating macros. It helps you to automatically update the worksheet’s data whenever you open the file. You can create simple macros using Excel’s Power Pivot and macro recorder tools.

But if you want to create advanced macros or manipulate existing ones. Then you need to have some VBA (Visual Basic Application) knowledge.

When you create the macro for the very first time, then it may be time-consuming for you. But once it creates, it will reduce the time it takes to complete repetitive tasks in the long run.

On the other hand, Tableau is a little more intuitive with creating processes and types of calculations. Let’s understand it with an example when we create calculations in a tabular format.

Then we need to type the formula once. After that, it will be stored as a field and applied to all rows referencing that source.

In this way, Tableau allows you to create an application for the recurring process. Other than this one, you can also create the custom formulas in Tableau. You will not find a custom formula feature in Excel’s Power Pivot table.

4) Visualizations

Visualization is the primary point between the comparison in Excel vs Tableau. Visualization is a process to highlight the most critical data in a given datasets. 

Excel allows you to manipulate the data on the cell level. And then manually create visualizations like graphs, charts, PowerPoint presentations of your data. 

To simplify your visualization creation in Excel, you need to have a deep understanding of how Excel’s features work.

On the other hand, Tableau is one of the most popular data visualization tools in the world. That’s why it visualizes data from the start. Thus it is allowing you to see the significance right away.

Apart from that, Tableau also differentiates correlations with the help of color, size, labels, and shapes. Thus it is giving you context as you drill down the data.

5) Usage

The significant uses of Excel are to store the data and manipulate the data using various operations. Excel stores the data into the spreadsheet using cells. But you can organize the data into the cell as per your preferences.

Apart from that, excel also represents the data in an eye-catchy manner. You can use tables and graphs to serve the data in excel. It also provides various kinds of charts to represent your data.

On the other hand, the primary use of Tableau is data visualization. As we know, it is the best data visualization software. It also offers the best user-friendly interface that allows users to perform data visualization tasks efficiently.

The best part of Tableau is, you can integrate it with other software and tools to get the raw data. And then visualize this raw data with ease.

6) Business purpose

Businesses usually use excel in producing Quick on-off reports. Because it is quite easy to generate the report in excel. 

It is the spreadsheet software that puts the data and then manipulates the data using some function. And finally, create the report in the shortest time without having the coding knowledge.

On the other hand, Tableau is a great tool to get insights from the data. It offers the self-service function that would pull the insights of the data. 

The data analyst uses Tableau to get insight from the raw data. Most of the time, Tableau automatically imports the data from various sources. 

7) Ease of use

Excel is easy to use the software as it offers spreadsheet functionality, which is quite easy for beginners to put the data and perform some basic mathematics operations.

But if you want to use excel to the extreme level, you need to know to script (VB). You should also know macros to use it full-fledged.

On the other hand, Tableau is offering the best graphical user interface. It is offering drag and drop functionality. It means you need not have the coding skills required to use Tableau. 

8) Applications

Excel is widely used by data analysts, Developers, and ETL. It provides the functionality to data analytics in performing their daily tasks. 

On the other hand, Tableau is also popular among data analysts to get insights from the data. Apart from that, it is also used by the data scientists to perform some insight operation on data.

9) Stands out

Excel is best for data manipulations and descriptive statistics. It is used by the data analyst on a daily basis to perform data manipulation and descriptive statistics. 

On the other hand, Tableau is best to visualize any size of data without any hassle. Apart from that, it is also helpful to store a large volume of data. In excel, there is a limitation to store the data. 

10) Solution

Excel is not the most powerful software for a large corporation. Thus it is best applicable and suited for the small-scale corporation. Besides, it is also used for structured data. 

You can’t use it for unstructured data. Because it will become overwhelming for you to process the unstructured data in Excel.

On the other hand, Tableau is a great tool to get insight from the big data problems that are being represented. 

Besides, it is also used in large enterprises, and you can also use unstructured data in Tableau. It has the ability to process unstructured data with ease. 

11) Era

The world is changing at a rapid pace. Therefore the businesses are looking for more enriching data visualization tools to view the insights from the data that can impact the business.

That’s why they prefer Tableau over excel. The reason is Excel has some essential features for data visualization. But it is a traditional structured tool. And it was also found in the late 90s.

On the other hand, Tableau was founded in 2003. It also offers modern features to visualize the data. 

Now it is a product of Salesforce, which has provided more power to this tool. Both software gets the updates at regular intervals, but still, excel is a bit more ancient than Tableau.

12) Integration

Excel offers integration functionality to users. You can connect Excel to different external sources with the help of some plugins. On the other hand, Tableau has many sources to connect.

Apart from that, it is also having the capability of a cloud. But if you want to integrate any sources to excel, then you need to have some system requirements. But if we talk about the Tableau. 

It is much easier to make live connections to external sources. It provides faster speed and access to connect with external sources.

A user who is new to Tableau can be disappointed while linking to excel spreadsheets directly. Tableau performs the information points automatically to classify areas and set up a suitable workspace. 

To prevent the issues, install excel spreadsheets vertically instead of horizontally, or use columns rather than rows to describe individual lists.

13) Versions

Excel is a Microsoft licensed software. It comes with a Microsoft office. Thus it gets its version with every new version of Microsoft office, i.e., office 2019.

On the other hand, the versions of Tableau. Tableau has multiple versions of desktop, server, and cloud-based. You can pick either one as per your requirements. 

14. Statistics vs Dynamic

Excel is a static tool because, in Excel, we load the data first and then get the representation of the data. 

Excel also allows us to import the Data from External sources by using some plugins. But to use excel to its full potential, then you need to have advanced knowledge of the features and the functions.

On the other hand, a Tableau is a dynamic tool in nature. It can pull the data from external sources in real-time. 

You can also use that data on the spot to get insight from that data. Data analytics use Tableau for various purposes.

For this, Tableau need not require any complex script. The users can have easy access to its function because of its user-friendly interface. 

Data analysts use Tableau for many purposes. It does not require any complex scripting — easy access and user-friendly.

15) Cost

Excel is not a single product launched by Microsoft. If you want to purchase MS Excel, then you need to purchase the entire MS office. 

There are two ways to purchase the MS office; the first one is the offline version, where you need to pay a one-time fee, i.e., $439.99.

You can also get a yearly subscription to office 365. Its charges are office 365 home for $99.99/ year, personal for $69.99, and office home. You can check the latest pricing of MS office at MS office Pricing.

On the other hand, Tableau offers three different types of subscriptions to users. All these subscriptions are as follows the creator, explorer, and viewer. 

All these packages are charged on a monthly basis. You need to pay $70 for the creator plan.

While on the other hand, you need to pay $35 for the desktop version and $42 for the cloud deployment. You can check the latest pricing of Tableau at Tableau Pricing.

Excel or Tableau: Which one offers the best salary package?

If we talk about the salary package, then it is quite clear that Tableau offers more salary than excel. But, it does not mean that excel is not offering you a good salary package. 

Excel and Tableau have their own specialties. That is why you can easily use them for different applications and purposes. It would always be beneficial if you have knowledge of both software. 

So, try to develop both skills and earn more money. Apart from this, both software is in high demand. That is why they offer more job opportunities. Therefore, you do not need to worry about your career when you are learning Excel or Tableau.


Now you have got the in depth comparison between Excel vs Tableau. From this comparison, you may be confused with the question “IS TABLEAU BETTER THAN EXCEL”? 

Well, Tableau is extremely better at making live links to the outside resources with ease of access and speed. Tableau grew as a buzz into the market due to its data issues that various organizations face.

On the other hand, excel has defined sources while it is considered in terms of data. Excel has limited columns and rows during usage. But these are both used for data analysis. 

However, tools like tableau have an additional feature that Business Intelligence (BI) analysts use.

Finally, I would like to say that a skilled analyst requires both Excel and Tableau, given that they utilize different goals. Tableau is better when it is about dashboards and visuals, and excel is a spreadsheet element that must perform multi-layered calculations. If you want to have the tableau assignment questions. Then you can submit your requirement with us to get the best tableau assignments for beginners at nominal charges.

Is Tableau A free software?

Yes, Tableau public is one of the free software, which enables the user to connect to the files and spreadsheet. With the help of it, users can create interactive data visuals for the web. Also, the Tableau reader is free that enables interaction with different data visuals made on the Tableau desktop.

Is Tableau better than Excel?

When it is about the dashboards and visuals, then Tableau is best. But when you require to perform multi-layered calculation, then excel is one of the best spreadsheet tools.

Is Tableau A free software?

Yes, Tableau public is one of the free software, which enables the user to connect to the files and spreadsheet. With the help of it, users can create interactive data visuals for the web. Also, the Tableau reader is free that enables interaction with different data visuals made on the Tableau desktop.