SharePoint Custom List vs Excel


SharePoint Custom List vs Excel

Often times in the IT industry especially, there is the rise of a buzzword and people seem to be suddenly interested in it. Everyone wants to incorporate it into their organizations believing that this is the logical step to take, however, one shouldn’t do that without prior understanding of what this new technology brings and is it beneficial for the firm to make the shift from the existing software to the new one or not.

The same case arose when SharePoint Custom Lists came to the fore. People have been pitting it as a replacement for Excel, but this is not as straightforward as it seems.

SharePoint Custom Lists do have certain advantages over Excel, however, there are also some things that you can accomplish with Excel and not with SharePoint custom lists.

To allow you to understand these core differences between these two services, here is a rundown on the distinct advantages each of them provides so that you can make an informed decision in opting for the transition based on what suits the needs of your firm in the best possible manner.


Multiple Viewing Feature

Viewing data through applying different metadata fields makes it inherently easier to sort and filter data whenever required. This is a core feature of the SharePoint custom list that’s not available in Excel. SharePoint also allows the End-user and the Admin to create the metadata fields with ease. If you know about administering SharePoint 2016 in detail, then you will come across many such useful features in SharePoint.

Filters For Data

Remember how easy it becomes to search for an item in an e-commerce site when you have the option of setting certain filters to specify your search query? SharePoint offers the same capability, allowing searches to become faster and easier to conduct. The Filter pane is always available and you can use it to narrow down your search, a feature which saves you a significant amount of time when searching for a particular thing in a vast data space.

Item Level Permissions Can Be Initiated In It

Probably the best feature from a data security standpoint is the ability to demarcate item-level permissions in SharePoint Custom List. If you want to set the privacy of a certain row to ensure that its only available for viewing to those who created it, then SharePoint offers you the ability to accomplish this goal.

Flow & PowerApps Are Supported

SharePoint Custom List can be integrated with a myriad of Office 365 tools. This seriously expands its capabilities allowing you to utilize it for multiple tasks related to your business.

Data Can Be Exported To Excel

In SharePoint, there is an option titled “Out of The Box”, which can be used to export data from SharePoint to Excel anytime if you need the data for further processing or any other task that can only be done in Excel.


While you might think this is quite similar to what can be done using Control+Z command in Excel, it isn’t the case. In Excel, once you close the file, you cannot restore it to previous versions for specific rows or the entire data set.

SharePoint Custom Lists allow this capability as it records all changes done everywhere on the list, so whenever you want to restore it to previous versions or see when the changes were made, you can do so with ease. This feature has to be turned on manually in Custom Lists, while it’s automatically on in the online version.

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Availability of a Diverse Set Of Formulas

If you have ever used Excel, you will know that one of the most prominent and useful features in it are the advanced formulas. The formulas allow you to do things like advanced level financial, logical calculations among a wide variety of other tasks. Disappointingly, this capability is not available in a SharePoint Custom list and therefore, most users import data from there to Excel in order to run advanced level calculations.

Color Coding Is Easy

Assigning colors to different data fields allows individuals to make a lot of sense of the data in a certain Excel sheet and the reason why this is so popular in Excel is that Excel makes color-coding extremely easy. You just need to put in a certain set of conditions for each color and they automatically start appearing based on the data justifications provided by you.

SharePoint also has color coding, but its much more difficult to accomplish these tasks in those Custom Lists. Basic color coding was recently announced in SharePoint but it certainly doesn’t match the one afforded by Excel by any account.

You Can Create Pivot Charts & Tables

Sometimes, the data presented in an Excel sheet needs to be represented in the form of a Pivot Chart or a Table and one can easily accomplish the task by using the Pivot option in Excel. SharePoint Custom Lists don’t have this is an inherent feature and the only way to create Pivot Chart or Tables from the data there is to use Microsoft’s PowerBI.

Excel Doesn’t Have A Restrictive Data Viewing/Creation Limit

In Excel, you can stuff as much data as you want in as many rows as you want. This is an important feature that allows people to handle a large amount of data with ease. However, SharePoint suffers from what is referred to as the 5000 Item View Limit Issue. Due to this problem, if you want to exceed 5000 rows with your data, you will go through with an extensive preparation process where you will have to build filtered views along with getting done with correct indexing of columns.

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