What is Google Sheets? Definition, Features, Purpose [2022]

Learn all about Google Sheets, what it's commonly used for, its components and terminology...

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Shivam Kumar
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New to Google Sheets? Curious to know what is Google Sheets used for?

Well, you have come to the right place…

This post will guide you into the world of Google Sheets so you not only know what it is but also how it works and who can use it.

Ready to dive in? Let’s get started…

01. What is Google Sheets?

Google Sheets is a web-based online tool that is used to create, update and modify spreadsheets and share the data online in real-time.

Google Sheets along with Google Docs and Google Slides is part of what Google calls “Google Workspace” previously known as G Suite. It is similar to how Microsoft Excel, MS Word, and PowerPoint are individual tools within the Microsoft office suite.

02. What is Google Sheets Used For?

Google Sheets is typically used to organize data and perform data analysis. It is used across all business functions and at companies from small to large scale.

The main uses of Google Sheets include:

  • Accounting
  • Data entry
  • Data management
  • Customer relationship management (CRM)
  • Charting and graphing
  • Financial analysis
  • Financial modeling

Before you make any assumption that Google Sheet is only used by business professionals, let me tell you this online tool can be used by anyone who wants to organize data.

For example; Let’s say you are a class teacher and you want to prepare a test report of all the students in your class.

Rather than wasting your precious time manually writing down everything on paper, you can use Google Sheets to quickly prepare a test report.

Here is a simple example :

Google sheets test report example

As you can see I have created a test report for 15 students in a class. This did not take me more than 10-12 minutes.

What’s more interesting is that I can easily calculate the total, average, mean, median, etc with the help of Google Sheets’ in-built functions.

adding marks in google sheets

It is just a basic example of what Google Sheets can be used for. Google Sheets is used by students, teachers, business owners, and working professionals to work with all kinds of data.


03. Features of Google Sheets

The following feature of Google Sheets makes it worth using:

1 General Features of Google Sheets

Like any other spreadsheet tool, Google Sheets has all the general features that you expect from a spreadsheet tool:

  • Templates : It has a variety of elegantly designed ready-made templates for different purpose.
  • Entering data : You can enter text, link, image, or number in your sheets.
  • Entering Formatted Number : You can also enter formatted data like time, date, currency, percentage, etc.
  • Toolbars : A collection of options that provide one-click access to commonly used commands such as Save, undo, and many more.
  • Text Formatting : Change text font, size, color, weight or style.
  • Cell Formatting : Add border or background color to a cell or cell ranges.

2 Database Features of Google Sheets

Google Sheets can be used as a database and perform various data operations:

  • Pivot Table :  Summarize the data and create powerful cross tables.
  • Slicer : Filter your data (or pivot table, pivot chart) by clicking on the type of data you want.
  • Sparklines : A small embedded line graph in a cell that illustrates a single trend.
  • Database : You can use Google Sheets as a database program. You can also connect it to variety of database and import data.
  • Sorting : You can sort data in ascending and descending order. Conditional sorting is also available in Google Sheets.
  • Filters : The filter in Google Sheets helps to narrow down the data in your worksheet by eliminating the irrelevant entries temporarily from the view
  • Grouping : Group multiple rows and column with parent and child records.
  • Data Validation : This feature helps you control the type of data entered into your worksheet.

3 Graphical Features of Google Sheets

Google Sheets has various graphical features to represent your data in chart or imagery format:

  • Charts: Google Sheets has several types of charts, allowing you to choose one that suits your need. Some of the popular chart includes bar chart, column chart, pie chart, line chart, and scatter chart.
  • Shapes : You can create variety of shapes with the help of free-form line tools in the Shapes gallery.
  • Clip Arts : Add ready to use clip arts to convey our message in pictorial representation.
  • Pictures : Easily insert picture from online picture library or your computer.

4 Google Sheets Functional Features

There are lots of functional features in Google Sheets that lets you perform mathematical, statistical, and logical operations

  • Create Formula : You can use mathematical operator to create your own formula and calculate data.
  • Functions : There are over 325 in-built formula to help you carry out specific calculations in a specific order based on the values specified as arguments.
  • App script : Google Apps Script lets you add custom menus, dialogs, and sidebars to Google Sheets as well as lets you write custom functions.
  • Conditional Format : Apply special formatting to cells in your spreadsheet based on certain conditions.
  • Add-ons : Use ready-made add-ons to do more with Sheets.
  • Macros : Automate repetitive tasks with macros.

5 Collaborative Features of Google Sheets

Google Sheets is far ahead of other spreadsheet tools when it comes to collaboration. Here are some of its best collaborative features:

  • Adding team member : You can quickly add new team member to your sheet through their email address.
  • Real time editing : Multiple members can work on a single spreadsheet simultaneously without any hassle.
  • Comments : Add comments to a cell, as well as tag team members. You and team member can also easily respond to comments.
  • Note : Notes lets you add context to a cell without adding another cell.
  • Live Chat : You can easily live chat with your team members within the Google Sheets.

04. How is Google Sheets Compared to Excel?

Google Sheets is often compared with Microsoft Excel, as they both offer similar core features of a spreadsheet tool.

If you are not able to decide which spreadsheet tool to use, here are a few ways in which Google Sheets and Excel differ:

  • Price – Google Sheets is completely free for personal use while you’ll need Microsoft office subscription (starting from $6.99/month) to use Excel.
  • Offline vs. online – The conventional Excel program is used locally on your computer while Google Sheets is a cloud based tool which works online.
  • Data Limit – A Microsoft Excel sheet can store 17 million Cells while Google Sheets can only store 5 million cells in a worksheet (New users keep in mind that 5 million is enough for most of the spreadsheet works.)
  • Performance – Google worksheet can start lagging if the maximum storage limit is neared while Excel works completely fine with extensive set of data.
  • Features and Function – Although Google Sheets has all the core feature of a spreadsheet program, it is still missing some of the advance features of Microsoft Excel.
  • Learning Curve – Google Sheets is very much user friendly for new users. On the hand, learning curve in Excel can seem daunting in beginning because of its extensive features.
  • Collaboration – Google Sheets seems to be everyone favorite for collaboration, as it is fully web-based. While Excel has an online version, it does not have full functionality of offline version.
Excel vs Google Sheet Comparision


05. How to Get Started with Google Sheets?

Now that you know what is Google Sheets, how can you start incorporating it into your work and life?

Here is the step-by-step process to create a new spreadsheet in Google Sheets:

  1. First of all, visit docs.google.com/spreadsheets and sign in with your Google account. If you don’t have one click on create account to create a new Google account.
Google Sheets Sign In
  1. Upon sign in, you’ll be brought to the main dashboard (or home) of Google Sheets. Click on Blank to create a new spreadsheet from scratch.
Create a new google sheets
  1. You new spreadsheet will get opened in a new tab. Here is how it looks:
New spreadsheets

From here you can start entering data and building your desired spreadsheet.

06. How to learn using Google Sheets?

Now that you know how to create a new spreadsheet from scratch, it’s time to learn how to use it. Get started with our how to use Google Sheets guide and begin to harness the power of this amazing tool.

How to use Google sheets by SpreadStack

Once you know the basics, then you can move to learn the use of formulas and functions in Google Sheets.

Kevin Stratvert has a nice 20 minute YouTube video on how to use formulas and Functions in Google Sheets…

Youtube video for Google Sheets function

07. Frequently Asked Questions on Google Sheets

Google Sheets and Microsoft Excel are pretty much the same in the terms of data support, formula, and functions. Its main differentiator though is that Google Sheets is a web browser-based tool and Excel is an offline software-based tool. Being an online web-based tool gives you the flexibility to collaborate with your team and work with multiple people simultaneously on a sheet.

The purpose of Google Sheets is to make it easy (especially for beginners) to efficiently organize and categorize the data in a logical format.

  • Simple User interface – It has very simple user interface. So users who are new to spreadsheet world would feel more comfortable working in Google sheets.
  • Collaboration – If you work with a team on the same project, all team member can simultaneously access and edit the spreadsheet file in real time.
  • Auto Saving – Every edit you make to your spreadsheet file saved automatically to your Google Drive. This means no need to worry about whether you’ve a slow, old or often crashing computer.
  • Free – While most of the other spreadsheet software are paid, Google Sheets is still free to use.
  • Data Limit – Google Sheets only supports up to 5 million cells in a sheet.
  • Performance – If you work with big set of data, Google Sheet may get slow sometimes.
  • Data Visualization – Google sheets don’t have a wide range of data visualization options unlike Excel.
  • Formula – Google Sheets still have not enough formula for complex data analysis and accounting.

Yes, If you are looking for a good enough spreadsheet tool (without a lot of bells and whistles), Google Sheets is a damn good option.

08. Final Thought

Google Sheets is actually a powerful tool when it comes to collecting, storing, and analyzing data.

From creating a professional project report to setting up a personal budget and even creating charts for easy data comparison & analysis — Google Sheets covers everything.

Over To You: Now that you know what is Google Sheet and how it is used, Are you planning on trying it out? Let me know in the comment section below.

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