What Is the Difference Between a Spreadsheet and a Database?

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A spreadsheet is used to keep track of data and do calculations, while a database is used to store information to be manipulated at a later time. Information might start out stored on a spreadsheet, but as the amount of information grows, the need for a database might arise.

Spreadsheets and databases are often used in tandem. A person can build a database to store a variety of types of information such as names, addresses, identification numbers and salary information. A spreadsheet is used to present chunks of information found in a database. Information in a database can be presented in the best format that makes creating the spreadsheet easier, since including vast amounts of information on one spreadsheet can make a spreadsheet difficult to navigate and read.

Two examples of database software are dBase and MS Access. Using the software, a person can enter all the information needed to create a spreadsheet at a later time. Once the information is entered into the database, a command called a query is used to generate the information.

Lotus and MS Excel are examples of spreadsheet software. Alpha information on a spreadsheet can be sorted and numerical information can be manipulated into formulas and calculations. The information for the spreadsheet can be accessed from a database or entered manually from other sources.