Excel is a wonderful program, it calculates, sorts, organizes and formats in beautiful ways. It is not the only tool available, and in fact is not even the best tool for every job, such as documents. From form creation to printed reports and handouts, Excel is not the way to go.
Why not Excel?
First, the printing.
Printing is possible in Excel, and there are ways to change how the file looks once it is printed. However, Excel prioritizes formatting for data above formatting for print view. This means that getting a printed document from Excel that is easy to read, contains all the desired information, and looks good requires a significant amount of trial and error and messing with settings.
Word (or Publisher for those flyers) is built to make the printed version look like what is on the electronic document. It is easy to format for print as the document is being created, and doesn’t require a series of minute changes.
Second, paragraph structure.
When sharing a written document, it is good practice to have the information presented in the convention of our written language. Word automates standard paragraph format and makes it easy to select non-standard paragraph format. Using this correct format makes your document look complete and professional. We all want that.
Third, Excel is meant to be dynamic.
Excel is such a wonderful tool because it is meant to be altered based on the users needs. An electronic, and not printed, Excel spreadsheet gives a world of possibilities. Data can be resorted, formulas recalculate with every data entry, cells resize. This makes the data on spreadsheets useable for everyone based on their needs.
There are certain arguments for using Excel instead. Each of these needs are real and often we have learned how to use this functionality in Excel first and maybe don’t realize the flexibility of Word.
I use Excel because I want…
Pie graphs and bar graphs are amazing, and so much fun, also they make reports and printed documents exponentially better. Many of us learned how to make these graphs in Excel. This is helpful as you review data and add information. To present the information in a printed document, Word has the exact same functionality in a much easier design layout.
A grid or table
Sometimes the easiest way to read information is in a table. Word has an ‘Insert Table’ ability that makes this easy and seamless.
Specific places for text entry
Due to the grid set-up of Excel, it is often easy to identify where information should be entered and in fact restrict entry in other places of the spreadsheet. With Word having an open workspace, this can be a little less apparent. Word has a wonderful ‘Insert Field’ function with the option to manage permissions, just for this use. It allows tabbing between the fields and these fields can even be restricted further to only allow certain types of data.
Information that I already have stored on an Excel spreadsheet
In is certainly not efficient to duplicate work. If there is data stored on an Excel spreadsheet that needs to be included in a printed document, you can source that spreadsheet. Basically, tell your Word document to get information from an Excel file. The Word document will update if you change the Excel file. This way, all of the information is available but presented in a beautiful, printable layout.
So the next time you need to print and present, just close Excel and give Word a try.