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Excel vs Tableau

Are you wondering which tool to choose – Excel or Tableau? This is the right blog for you! Know that both Excel and Tableau are used for data analysis and visualization. However, they differ in many ways. This blog compares the tools from many angles and explores where the tools sync and where they deviate. By the end of the blog, you will gain the confidence to choose the right tool.

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Both Microsoft Excel and Tableau tools dominate in the data-driven world. Microsoft Excel is a tool that has long been used by finance and data analysts for data analysis and exploration. On the other hand, Tableau is a data visualization tool that analysts use to generate compelling data visuals.

It's not a surprise if you have the following questions: why is Excel still popular even though Tableau has robust data analysis features? Which tool can we choose for data analysis? Don’t worry – This blog answers your questions by examining the tools from many angles.

Let’s dig in!

Table of Contents:

What is Excel?

Excel is one of the most popular, flexible, and easy-to-use spreadsheet tools widely used for data analysis. You can clean, organize, and manipulate simple to medium-level data with Excel. To be precise, you can easily manage data with a few thousand rows using Excel.

You can perform multilayered data calculations and create charts and graphs with Excel. You can also employ Excel for data analysis, budgeting, accounting, inventory management, etc. Moreover, excel offers unique features such as pivot tables, macros, conditional formatting, etc., to perform advanced data manipulation.

As you know, Tableau is another increasingly used data analytic tool. Let’s take a glance at the tool in the following.

What is Tableau?

Tableau is one of the robust data visualization tools that you can embrace to create visually appealing data visuals and retrieve insights. The data visuals can be graphs, charts, etc. The main thing about Tableau is that you can analyze large amounts of data effortlessly.

Furthermore, Tableau has user-friendly drag-and-drop features, simplifying building data visuals. Also, it allows you to make data visuals from complex data without any technical expertise. Tableau's advanced analytic features help unearth valuable insights from data quickly.

You might have some basic ideas about Excel and Tableau right now. The following section compares the tools in depth.

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Excel Vs. Tableau: Key Differences

Let's compare Excel and Tableau against multiple parameters.

  • System Requirements

As Excel is one of the modules of the Microsoft Office suite, you just need a Windows or macOS operating system with a 64-bit processor. No other special devices are required.

On the other hand, though the system requirements for Tableau are the same as Excel, adding a graphics card and 8 GB RAM will help unleash Tableau's full potential.

  • Ease of use

Excel is the go-to tool for making simple data calculations and analyses for individuals and analysts. But beyond some point, working with Excel becomes tedious. To understand it better, when you need to perform more complex calculations and analysis in Excel, you must manage several spreadsheets manually. It is frustrating and time-consuming.

On the flip side, you can manage mountains of data with Tableau seamlessly using its simple drag-and-drop features. So, it is easy to create charts and dashboards with Tableau. However, expertise is required when you need to analyze complex data.

  • Data Analysis

You can employ Excel to perform simple and statistical data analyses. Excel comes with many crucial built-in functions and formulas that help make data analysis effortless. Also, excel offers the pivot table method that you can use to handle large data sets.

On the other side, Tableau can perform data analysis on a large scale and create graphs, charts, and reports quickly.

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  • Data Exploration

When it comes to Excel, it is possible to presume the analysis results. In other words, you will get the results within the scope of the formulas and functions you have applied.

On the flip side, the results that you derive from the Tableau go beyond limits. Tableau explores data and uncovers insights that may surprise you. It helps to find correlations, trends, and patterns among the data through in-depth exploration. Besides, it provides the root cause of the behavior of the data.

  • Data Visualization

You can leverage Excel to make basic-level data visualizations such as pie charts, line charts, etc. If you want to find trends and patterns from large-sized data using Excel, you can only get that manually.

On the other hand, Tableau is a business intelligence and dedicated data visualization tool. In addition to creating various graphs and charts, you can use Tableau to create multiple charts and graphs such as density maps, Pareto charts, symbol maps, heat maps, Gantt charts, bullet charts, and much more.

[ Click here to Learn Tableau Visualization ]

  • Data Connectivity

You can connect Excel with various data sources, such as web services and databases. You must use plugins or make additional steps to connect to external data sources. Excel also allows the generation of files in different formats, such as XML, CSV, and JSON.

Unlike Excel, Tableau can seamlessly connect with many data sources, databases, and web services such as Google Analytics, Salesforce, Hadoop, etc. Simply put, Tableau offers higher data connectivity.

  • Dashboards

Tableau allows for building powerful and interactive dashboards. You can uncover valuable insights from the dashboards. You can even drill down values from the dashboards and make an analysis.

On the other side, building dashboards using Excel is impossible.

  • Automation

You can enable automation in Excel through macros. Although it takes much time to create macros, it eliminates many repeated tasks altogether. Excel’s macro recorder tool and power pivot tables help you to create macros.

On the contrary, Tableau offers excellent automation features, which help to reduce mundane tasks and boost productivity.

  • Collaboration

Excel was released in different versions, which may sometimes cause version control conflicts. Also, you can share Excel files only through emails or any other channel.

On the other hand, tableau products collaborate and allow quick file sharing. So you can avoid downloading dashboard data. Besides, Tableau will enable you to process real-time data at any time.

  • Pricing

Excel is a part of the Microsoft Office suite. So it’s cost-effective. You must go for licensing only when you need advanced Excel features.

On the other hand, Tableau offers a plethora of products. They are tableau explorer, tableau enterprises, tableau creator, and tableau viewer. Each product comes with separate features and pricing options.

  • Productivity:

Data manipulation as well as creating data visuals are tedious and time-consuming tasks.

On the contrary, You can upload and create data visuals in no time using Tableau, which is faster than Excel.

Great! The comparison must have given you the big picture of the pros and cons of Excel and Tableau in a detailed way.

Excel Vs Tableau - Head-to-Head Comparison

[ Click here to get frequently asked  MS Excel Interview Questions

Key Takeaways

Let's go through the key points of comparing the tools in the following.

  • Excel is the spreadsheet tool that individuals, financial experts, and data analysts still use.
  • Excel is suitable for analyzing simple data manipulations and creating charts and graphs.
  • Tableau is a business intelligence tool that generates data visuals for complex and large-sized data.
  • Tableau is a modern data analytic tool that is great for creating interactive dashboards and drill-down values.
  • You can create beautiful data visuals in Tableau in no time.

Excel Vs Tableau FAQs

1. Is Tableau easy to learn?

Yes, you can quickly learn Tableau. Getting familiar with Tableau features and applying various data analysis methods is so simple in the Tableau tool. If you devote your time and energy to learning Tableau, then it is a walk in the park. Mindmajix conducts tableau training with expert-led trainers. Learners with little or no technical background can quickly learn Tableau and get job-ready.

2. Does Tableau connect to Excel?

Yes, Tableau connects to Excel and offers excellent capabilities to users. It provides improved visualizations, enhanced data connectivity, managing large datasets, and more.

3. Is Tableau better than Excel?

No, neither Tableau nor Excel is better than each other. Both tools come with equal strengths and weaknesses. So, Tableau excels in data organization, simple calculations, storage, etc. On the other hand, excel shines in data visualization, handling large data sets, etc.

4. Will Tableau replace Excel?

Not possible. This is because Excel is so strong in certain areas. For example, analyzing simple and medium-level data is made easy with Excel. Simple calculations and data manipulations can be quickly done with Excel. So, the need for Excel is always there.

5. What makes Tableau a unique tool?

  • Tableau allows quick, efficient, and intuitive data analysis
  • It provides excellent data visualization features
  • It helps uncover insights effectively
  • It offers improved data connectivity and flexibility 
  • It also provides enhanced data security.


In short, excel shines in manipulating simple data and creating charts and graphs. On the other hand, Tableau excels in analyzing complex data and creating interactive data visualizations and dashboards. So, choosing the right tool depends on the business requirements and complexity of the data analysis.

We hope this blog has helped you get deep insights into Excel and Tableau in the best way possible. If you wish to explore Excel and Tableau more, you can take the courses in MindMajix. It will undeniably help you gain the best insights about the tools and drive you to make a concrete decision.

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Last updated: 18 Mar 2024
About Author


Madhuri is a Senior Content Creator at MindMajix. She has written about a range of different topics on various technologies, which include, Splunk, Tensorflow, Selenium, and CEH. She spends most of her time researching on technology, and startups. Connect with her via LinkedIn and Twitter .

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