From Excel to Sheets: A Guide to CSV Report Inconsistencies


Could you elucidate the reasons for the discrepancy in the appearance of a CSV report when viewed in Excel compared to Google Sheets?


Excel and Google Sheets handle cell formatting differently. Excel offers a broader range of formatting options, which may not always be preserved or displayed in the same way in Sheets. For example, certain borders, shading, or conditional formatting rules may not appear identically.

Formulas and Functions:

While both platforms support a wide array of formulas, there are some differences in syntax and available functions. A formula that works in Excel might not work in Sheets, or it might produce a different result, affecting the data displayed.

Default Settings:

Each application has its own set of default settings for displaying data. This includes the default font, text size, cell size, and even the way numbers and dates are formatted. These settings can cause visual discrepancies between the two.


Excel has been around longer and has more advanced features, some of which are not fully compatible with Google Sheets. When a CSV file is imported into Sheets, some Excel-specific features may not be supported, leading to differences in appearance.

Macro and Scripting:

Excel uses VBA for macros and scripting, while Google Sheets uses Google Apps Script. If a CSV report relies on macros for certain visual elements, these will not transfer over to Sheets.

Pivot Tables and Charts:

Both applications allow for the creation of pivot tables and charts, but they do it differently. Excel provides more customization options, which might not be reflected in Sheets.

Collaboration Features:

Google Sheets is designed with real-time collaboration in mind, which can affect how changes are tracked and displayed. Excel, especially the desktop version, handles collaboration differently, which can impact the visual layout of a report.

File Conversion:

When a CSV file is opened in Excel or Sheets, it’s converted into the application’s native format for editing. This conversion process can introduce changes in the way data is presented.

Understanding these differences can help users better prepare their CSV reports for cross-platform use and ensure a more consistent appearance. For a more detailed comparison, you can refer to resources provided by Google Workspace Learning Center and other expert articles..

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