Why Microsoft Lists is better than Excel

Learn why Microsoft Lists is better than Excel to capture tabular data from multiple persons in a secure manner, without sending attachments and manual copy paste. In the earlier blog post we saw a detailed coverage of how to use Lists. This article highlights 22 benefits of using Lists instead of Excel.

Excel vs lists poster



What happens in Excel

What happens in Lists

Data entry Columns

Only Number, Date and Text types

15 data type: Text, long text, images, location, persons, choice, multiple choice, lookup, currency, hyperlink

Add validation to reduce data entry errors

Limited validations.

Column level and row level validations Lots of Excel-like functions available.

Mandatory columns

Not possible

Each column can be mandatory or optional.

Calculated columns

Difficult to implement

Easily possible. Just define the formula.

Share with multiple people

Need to send files – too many copies to manage

Share link. Edit or read only.

Stop sharing?

Not possible if you send the file as attachment.

Can stop sharing anytime.

Data from multiple people

Each person sends a separate file.

Single list – multiple people can enter data at the same time.

Copy Paste to combine data

Lot of copy paste needed to combine / consolidate data

No copy paste needed.

Prevent people from editing each other’s data

Share separate files. Requires manual copy paste to combine data.

Easy! Just change two settings and prevent people from seeing and editing each other’s data.

Column level security

Not possible.

Create a view with desired columns.

Use Audience Targeting to specify who can see / edit which view.

Lookup from other lists

VLOOKUP works. But making that column read-only is difficult.

Lookup is a column type.

Refer to another list, create dropdown.

Reuse common lists.

Change from edit to view

Not possible

Easily possible.
You are always in control.

Export to Excel

Not required. It is in Excel!

Available – creates Excel file
with a connection to Lists.

When data changes what happens?

Nothing! Manually combine data repeatedly.

Just refresh. You can even auto-refresh while opening the Excel file.

Trigger actions when data is added

Programming needed.

Easily possible using Power Automate. Actions with 300+ apps.

Notification when data changes

Programming needed.

Enable notifications and choose the event.

Create Reports

Pivot table – static

Pivot Tables, Power BI or any other BI tool which supports SharePoint list. Auto-refresh


Excel versions

Field level versioning with audit trail

Custom views

Sort and filter only

Many views can be instantly created: Group, Filter, Sort, Calendar View, Thumbnail View and more.

Custom permissions

Not possible

Add only – no delete. Custom permissions can be created using SharePoint security.


Not possible

Set custom reminders based upon any date column.


Protecting unwanted areas of file is difficult.

Create non-editable column using calculated columns.

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