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Linking Excel files to PowerPoint

Edit links in PowerPoint using excel VBA

Linking Excel files to PowerPoint

If you regularly create PowerPoint presentations that include information from Excel, you will know how frustrating it can be.  Having to re-copy and re-paste the information every time a change is made in the original Excel documents.  Have you come across the feature which enables you to link your Excel workbook directly into your PowerPoint presentation? When you use this feature, the presentation changes automatically each time your workbook changes.  This is what we will be covering in this post.


Linking an Excel document to a PowerPoint presentation

The process of linking an Excel document to a PowerPoint presentation is pretty straightforward.  Simply copy a range from Excel (Home -> Copy in the Ribbon, or Ctrl+C as a shortcut).  Then, in PowerPoint click Home -> Paste -> Paste Special . . .


From the Paste Special window select Paste link, click Microsoft Excel Worksheet Object, then click OK.

Edit Powerpoint linked documents Paste Special

The pasted image will now be linked to Excel.  If the Excel file and PowerPoint presentation are both open any changes will update automatically.



Update and edit links


Once the links are created in the presentation, you may need to update them at a future point.  If the Excel file is not open it is possible to update links using the following methods.

Updating when opening the presentation

When opening a presentation, PowerPoint will ask if you wish to update the links.  Just click the Update Links button and the presentation will be updated with the latest information.

PowerPoint Update Links on Open

Updating on demand

If you just want to update a single linked image you can right-click the image, then select Update Link from the menu.

Powerpoint Right Click Update or Edit Link


This menu also gives you the option to Edit the link to the original document.

Update with the “edit links” option

On the ribbon click File -> Info -> Edit Links to Files (it’s in the bottom right corner).
File Info Edit Links Powerpoint

The Links window will open, which provides you with various options to update, edit and break links.

PowerPoint Links - Update and Change Source

My top tips

If you link Excel files to PowerPoint presentations often, you will soon find it doesn’t always behave how you might expect.  Here are my top tips to get the best results:

  1. Use named ranges.  Adding rows and columns in a worksheet will not change the link reference in PowerPoint.  For example, if PowerPoint is linked to Cell A1, then you inserted a new column at the start, Cell A1 would become Cell B1.   But, PowerPoint still references Cell A1. This would now be the wrong cell.  A named range helps to ensure the correct range is displayed in the presentation.
  2. PowerPoint updates links one at a time.  If you have 100 links to the same Excel workbook it will open the same Excel workbook 100 times, which can be very time consuming.  If you open the Excel document first the updating process is much faster.
  3. PowerPoint will not know if you change the name or file path of a linked file (see point 4 below for the exception).  You need to ensure the most up-to-date version of the Excel file always has the same file name and file path, so that PowerPoint can find it.
  4. The fastest method of changing the source of an Excel file is to have both the Excel and linked PowerPoint files open.  Then save the Excel file with a new path or file name.  In this circumstance, PowerPoint will update the reference to the file.