Sure, Excel is made to work with Word. Especially if the table benefits from automatic computations, Excel is a good choice.
Latex is a monster. It's by far the N°1 choice for publications and for longer documents because
- It works automatically and produces very aesthetic documents.
- There are standard packages for each journal that result in its uniform aspect.
- It has capacities for everything. Write music, theatre, science papers, letters. Embed automatic algebraic computing. Just use the proper package.
- Special packages can do about anything you want (they total >>1GB). Notably draw chemical formulae. Write aesthetic math and chemical equations.
If you imagine the horror of a Word document where math formulas are cut by a page bottom or images are randomly resized when you edit something elsewhere... And this does happen in a journal, where papers don't always start at a page top, or where pages have a size different from what your Word knows. By contrast, if you send the journal a Latex document, they will concatenate all papers and let the more clever and autonomous Latex recompile everything to obtain a cute edition.
If you plan more than few months at a university or in a research career, I feel using Latex (and installing it if necessary) should belong to your know-how.
Latex belongs more to the Linux world but I could install some distributions on W2k and Xp with limited headache. Learning to use it seems reasonable. But don't expect a document 2 days after downloading the binaries. Colleagues already trained are a help.