QuickBooks vs Excel: What is the Difference?

August 25, 2022

QuickBooks vs Excel: What is the Difference?

Most people who wonder whether they should choose QuickBooks vs Excel probably haven’t ever done any accounting or bookkeeping online.

The simple truth is that QuickBooks and Excel are completely different types of software. Sure, if you happen to be a Visual Basic programmer with complex coding skills, you could probably build a simple accounting package using Excel, but it will probably take a very long time.

Accounting software like QuickBooks exists, so you never need to choose between QuickBooks vs Excel. Use both but use them for what they are intended for. Here’s what you need to know.

Is it better to use Excel or QuickBooks?

Asking whether it’s better to use Excel or QuickBooks is a little like asking whether it’s better to use a boat or a car. It really depends on where you are, and what you want to do. A boat wouldn’t help much on land, while a car isn’t much use in the water.

Instead of asking whether it’s better to use QuickBooks vs Excel for small business, you should understand what each one does, and what they’re great at.


Excel is a spreadsheet program that is designed to allow you to design custom spreadsheets to capture data, run calculations and more. It’s a bit of a “blank slate” and the amount of use it gives you in your small business will depend a lot on your skill level with Excel.


QuickBooks is accounting software. It is designed to allow you to create companies, track income and expenses, and perform other kinds of accounting functions. You do not have to create anything to do this, because QuickBooks comes with all the accounting functionality you need already built right in.

Does QuickBooks use Excel?

No, QuickBooks is a completely free standing accounting software package that uses it’s own database and calculation coding to perform complex accounting functions.

However, QuickBooks can integrate with Excel and other software, if you have the right add ons installed. This allows you to export data from QuickBooks to Excel. You can also import data from Excel, provided you format your Excel based data correctly and import it as the correct file type.

Is Excel better than accounting software?

No. Excel is neither better nor worse than the QuickBooks Online accounting software. It’s simply a different type of software that is designed to do different things.

The question of QuickBooks vs Excel for small businesses is really not something you can answer, for this reason. It’s best to use both in your business for the purpose they were designed.

Excel is usually better for people who are not accountants to do things like create custom pricing worksheets or develop an estimating template. It’s useful for capturing lots of data and calculating averages or for sorting and arranging data as you need it organized. You can even create charts and graphics from the data in Excel, which makes it a great way to present financial data.

However, Excel doesn’t do all the things that accounting software like QuickBooks does. You can’t print checks or run bank reconciliations. You can’t view up-to-date accounts payable information or view receivables in real-time.

Of course, with many months of work and an Excel genius, you could probably make something that will do those things… but why would you when those things already exist?

Can I use Excel for bookkeeping?

In theory, you could use Excel in the same way that you used to use old paper-based ledgers to capture very basic accounting information. However, if you use formulas in Excel, you will always need to check that they are doing calculations correctly, and you will probably still have a lot of work to transfer information to an accounting package at some point. So you would really just be creating double work for yourself.

Will Your Bookkeeper or Accountant Use Excel?

Both bookkeepers and accountants use Excel all the time. They just don’t use it in place of accounting software, because they understand how different these two packages are.

Sometimes, it’s easier to understand this when you think of software as a tool.

Both Swiss Army Knives and scalpels are knives, but they do very different things. You wouldn’t use a scalpel on a camping trip, in the same way that you wouldn’t use a Swiss Army Knife for surgery.

In this case, Excel is a Swiss Army Knife. It can do many things, and you can build custom solutions.

QuickBooks, on the other hand, is a scalpel. It’s purposely designed, precise and accurate. It’s designed to save time and get your accounting done correctly and accurately.

That’s why most accountants and bookkeepers would never dream of replacing a good accounting software package with Excel, or any other spreadsheet package for that matter.

Extend and Expand QuickBooks Functionality

We hope this article has helped to explain the difference between QuickBooks vs Excel and whether you should be using QuickBooks vs Excel for small businesses.

Both of these software packages are excellent at what they do, and that’s why they are the industry leaders. However, they are not interchangeable. You cannot build a custom spreadsheet in QuickBooks, and you can’t do accounting in Excel.

Tools that bridge the gap between different kinds of software are one way to integrate the different types of software you use in your small business. LiveFlow has a built-in live, real-time link between QuickBooks data and your custom Google Sheets spreadsheets.

The Google Sheets Add-On automatically pushes data from your QuickBooks package to your spreadsheet whenever it changes, so you always have up-to-date reports with all the information that matters to your management team.

If you’re willing to use Google Sheets instead of Excel for reporting and you’re interested to find out more about how LiveFlow works, let’s talk. You can book a demo to answer any questions you might have.

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