Microsoft Excel is still everyone’s favorite business intelligence tool.
Between Excel and Google Sheets, Excel tends to win for data analysts and those who need more powerful data processing tools. (Did you know Excel can process over 17,000,000,000 billion cells of data?)
Kloudio VP of Product, Ankush Rustagi, is team Excel: “Anyone who has cut their teeth on 250K rows with 15 columns knows that Sheets is a child’s play. The overall winner for core spreadsheet usage is Excel, especially considering the speed of running calculations off your local machine vs. the lag in Sheets when manipulating large data sets.”
Despite its processing power, however, Excel still has several feature gaps.
Thankfully, the Microsoft AppSource store offers over 500 add-ins to extend the functionality of your spreadsheet (and to fuel the developer economy).
We’ve gathered the 15 best Excel add ins for your next Excel project.
First, what is an Excel add-in?
As explained by Microsoft, Excel add-ins serve different purposes. They ease interactions with spreadsheet content, add custom ribbon buttons or menu commands, insert task panes, add custom functions, open dialog boxes, and embed rich, web-based objects such as charts or interactive visualizations within your worksheet.
In short, Excel add-ins spruce up your spreadsheet. They add functions and features that allow you to access, prepare, and act on your data in new ways.
Excel add-ins cater to different segments of users. For this article, we’ll focus on two types: business users and data analysts.
15 Best Excel Add Ins
- Power Pivot
- Microsoft Power Query
- Analysis ToolPak
- Audit Tickmark Toolbar
- Fuzzy Logic Test
- Infor F9
- Lucidchart Diagrams
- Dashboard Tools for Excel
- Bing Ads Intelligence
Excel Add-ins for Data Analysis
Cost: Free, regardless of whether you have a free or paid Kloudio plan
Self-service reporting on the agenda? Turn to Kloudio, especially if you want to connect different data sources to Excel spreadsheets, and pull everything in one go. The choice is yours; run ad-hoc queries, automate reports, or make fancy data presentations.
Schedule your daily work files via Excel schedulers, rummage through filters in a matter of seconds, or create elaborate pivots and charts to showcase your team’s performance.
2. Power Pivot
Power Pivot deserves a special mention in the list of Excel add-ins. This add-in is already a part of Excel, but you should enable it before use.
With Power Pivot, you can work with more than 1,048,576 rows, access data from multiple sources, manipulate large datasets, streamline data, and share your analysis through SharePoint.
Power Pivot is an extension of your standard Excel Pivots, plus an extra set of features:
- Expandable data capacity
- Perform advanced calculations
- Publish workbooks as interactive web applications
- Create advanced formulas using Data Analysis Expressions
- Make use of self-service approach to allow users to connect different data sources for analyzing data
3. Microsoft Power Query
The Microsoft Power Query add-in enhances and simplifies data access and discovery and facilitates team collaboration. Use this tool for data transformation, data manipulation, and creating presentations.
Power Query is a new feature available only for Excel 2016 and later versions (it’s housed within the Data tab).
With the Power Query, you can:
- Identify data from different sources, including relational databases, XML, OData feeds, Hadoop HDFS, web pages, and more.
- Use Excel’s search capabilities by exploring internal and external data sources.
- Combine and analyze data from different sources within other add-ins like Power Pivot and visualization tools like Power Map and Power View.
4. Analysis ToolPak
Analysis ToolPak is a built-in Excel add-in program available from installation. If you use Excel for statistical or engineering calculations, this tool is for you. Provide that data and the parameters for each analysis type, and the add-in will do the rest for you.
Key features include:
- Run complex queries in a few seconds using the add-in tool
- Some additional tools generate charts based on the data provided
- It is ideal for financial calculations along with statistical and engineering data requirements.
Excel Add-ins for Finance
The Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis Economic Data (FRED) add-in helps reduce the time spent collecting and organizing macroeconomic data. Access 790,000 data series from different sources, such as BEA, OECD, BLS, and Census—directly in Excel.
Some key features:
- Instant download of economic time series for analysis
- Browse and review popular data from the FRED database
- Convert data frequency while calculating growth rate calculations
- Refresh, update, and review spreadsheets with new data as soon as it is released
- Design graphs to show NBER recession shading using the auto-update feature
6. Audit Tickmark Toolbar
Cost: Licensed versions, ranging from $25 per license
As the name suggests, the Audit Tickmark Toolbar tool is well suited for analysts who work with other people’s data, models, and Excel sheets. The add-in helps you improve, audit, and effectively understand the data to draw meaningful insights.
Some key features:
- Add and remove tick marks, symbols, and numbers to your sheets with a button
- Organize spreadsheet data into numbers, formulas, off-sheet formulas, and plug formulas
- Audit existing formulas
7. Fuzzy Logic Test
Use the Fuzzy Logic Test add-in to match similar results from two or more columns—yes, in place of the VLOOKUP function. However, unlike VLOOKUP, the data cannot be the exact same. Fuzzy will return matched similar data.
Some key points:
- Ideal for matching similar but not exact data
- Use this to check text values
- Works well with spelling errors, as the underlying information is used for cross-checking
- Returns a similarity score with the similar matches
- The fuzzy logic test is customizable as per specific domains and languages
8. Infor F9
Cost: $1500 per license
Infor F9 is your go-to add-in, especially if you are interested in importing a general ledger into Excel. This add-in is compatible with Excel 2013 and later versions. It includes features like a report writer, scheduling hub, and a report viewer for additional benefits.
Subsequently, use Infor F9 to connect to accounting software products like Sage, AMSI, Sapiens, CYMA, Macola, and ERP tools.
Some primary functions include:
Hot-link cells in your spreadsheet to any balances
- Build tables that auto-refresh with new data
- Add (sum) transactions across different date ranges
- Analyze financial data through forecasts, and yearlong reports, as you scale down on manual efforts
Excel Add-ins for HR
9. Lucidchart Diagrams
Cost: Paid plans available per license, starting from $7.95
Lucidchart Diagrams is tailor-made for HR teams who work heavily on data flow charts and diagrams within Excel. This tool is customized to extend the power of data visualization within Excel beyond standard charts and graphs.
Lucidchart is available in two options: free and paid. You can import data from primary sources like Microsoft 365, Slack, Google Suite, and Dropbox within the free plan. The paid plan allows you to create powerful data visualizations, analytical tools, integrations, and templates.
Excel Add-ins for Business
Cost: Starting from $15/month to $35/month, depending upon chosen plan
Cogniview is a paid add-in available at a one-time price of $199. You’ll like this tool if you work with large sets of PDFs or data images that you prefer to manipulate in Excel. Bid adieu to lengthy data entry processes. Instead, use this simple Excel add-in to do your bidding.
With this tool, you can convert PDFs, BMPs, JPGs, GIFs, and other image file formats into Excel. Additionally, you can do batch conversions and multiple page conversions simultaneously.
Cost: Contact for pricing
The XLHub add-in transfers data from Excel to SQL Server in a jiffy. Data analysts who spend their days toggling between the two tools will find XLHub a helpful addition.
With this add-in, you can transfer content from multiple spreadsheets to a consolidated, centralized location (otherwise performed via email). XLHub works well with Excel 2007-13 and SQL Databases 2005 and above versions.
12. Dashboard Tools for Excel
Dashboards are an integral part of an organization’s reporting strategy. Dashboard Tools, offered by MyCommerce for $44.95, is an essential addition to your repertoire of Excel add-ins.
The tool is derived from Excel’s native graphs, thereby allowing high levels of personalization within the dashboards.
Some key features include:
No need to install additional fonts or graphics to create elaborate charts and dashboards
- Enjoy different graphics options, ranging from cell-sized sparklines, heatmaps, traffic lights, mini charts, optimized site graphics to bump graphs and unique charts
SmartReader is a DIY text analyzer add-in offered by ParallelDots. Get the power of Artificial Intelligence within Excel, as this add-in equips you with AI API features for sentiment analysis, text classification, keyword generation, and locating offensive content.
SmartReader codes your data and converts it to a downloadable spreadsheet so that you can analyze your data from the comfort of Excel. The Basic plan costs $29/month, with additional plans available.
Excel Add-ins for Digital Marketing
Offered for a price of $99/month, Supermetrics connects with various marketing data sources like Google Analytics, Google Ads, and more.
Sift and crunch through metrics like website traffic, client conversions, and ad clicks from Excel. Supermetrics also facilitates dashboard creation, refreshing, and emailing facilities for its users.
This add-in is currently available in Excel 2016 and 365.
15. Bing Ads Intelligence
Cost: Free to download
Bing people will love this add-in. Available for Excel 2007 and above, Bing Ads Intelligence allows users to optimize their keywords within the Bing Ads database.
Bing Ads users can check daily, weekly, and monthly traffic requests and measure the performance of specific keywords. Some additional research options are also available, aligned with user data such as location, age groups, and other demographics.
Excel Add-ins exist to make your life easier. While Microsoft offers some free options to enhance Excel, we’ve included a number of paid add-in options to help complement your workflow. Try some of these best Excel add ins for your next spreadsheet project.
Create your free Kloudio account today to give our Excel add-in a spin. (We also offer a Google Sheets add-on if that’s where you prefer to work.)