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Excel Definition: What is Excel, and What is its Purpose?

Jun 03, 2022

Finding a Microsoft Excel definition that covers everything you can achieve with this software can be tricky. While there are the typical uses of excel, such as performing financial analysis and organizing data, there are also many other features that Excel can be used for.

The main uses of Excel are:

  • Financial analysis

  • Data entry

  • Programming

  • Accounting

  • Customer relationship management (CRM)

  • Charting and graphing

  • Financial modeling

  • Time management

  • Data management

  • Task management


 Financial and accounting uses

Businesses frequently use Excel for accounting and finance functions. Many organizations run their complete forecasting, accounting, and budgeting functions within Microsoft excel.

While the basic Excel definition states that it is a data management tool, the most common use of the data functions is financial.

What are Similar Software Programs to Microsoft Excel?

Google Sheets

Google Sheets has quickly risen to promise due to how accessible it is. If you already have a Google account, you can get started on Google sheets immediately. Google Sheets offer a few functions that Microsoft Excel does not, and vice versa.

All Google Sheets files are stored in the cloud, which makes it an extremely portable option for use across devices.


One of the main benefits of using Smartsheet is the various project management features. File sharing, collaborative features, and other tools allow businesses to use Smartsheet to track progress. If you are searching for a British English excel alternative, Smartsheet is a great choice.

Smartsheet also offers a free trial period to test out the tool.


Like the Microsoft Online suite of tools, LibreOffice offers a range of office suite software you can use, including spreadsheets.

LibreOffice offers similar features, such as pivot tables and other graphing tools.

A Brief History of Excel

Microsoft Excel was created in 1982 by Multiplan, a top-rated control program for microcomputers. However, it was not as popular a software program on MS-DOS systems, as people preferred to use Lotus 1-2-3 to calculate data on these machines.

To counteract this, Microsoft launched Microsoft excel version 2 in 1987, making it much easier to arrange and manipulate data, and it was outstandingly good.

By 1988, Excel V2 had proved to be a more successful effort than its predecessor, and it had risen high in popularity, overtaking excel opponents, including Lotus 1-2-3 and QuatroPro.

By 1993, Microsoft was already on to version five of Excel, which included Visual Basic for Applications (VBA). This tool allowed almost unlimited possibilities of automation for processing and presenting data, one of the main reasons it is a staple of the office suite today.

Frequently Asked Questions about Microsoft Excel

What is the whole meaning of Excel?

The Collins English dictionary states that excel is used when someone surpasses an achievement or accomplishment. Ironically, the software program Excel can be used by schoolchildren to surpass one's classmates and excel at a project.

What best defines MS Excel?

Microsoft Excel can be defined as a spreadsheet program developed by Microsoft that utilizes tables to store and review statistical and numerical data via functions and formulas.

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