Copy Paste – Part 5 – Paste Link and Embedding

Paste Link and Embedding are extremely useful. But most of us have not fully understood it. I am going to split this post in to multiple parts because I want to keep individual post short.

The need

Let me list down common requirements.

  1. Eliminate repetitive manual copy paste from the same Excel file
  2. Show summary from Excel and attach an Excel file as a collateral and send it along with the presentation
  3. Just attach an Excel file to a presentation as a collateral – without showing any content from it.

These three requirements translate into three different methods of Copy Pasting from Excel to PowerPoint. Paste Link, Paste Embed and Insert Object.

All these Copy Paste methods work between all Office products. Excel to PowerPoint is just an example scenario.

Eliminate repetitive copy paste with Paste Link

We often have summarized version of data in a worksheet. For example, you are showing YTD results (cumulative) across the year. The data is updated every month. You need to copy paste the current month status into PowerPoint for monthly review presentation.

Every month you copy paste SAME range in the SAME worksheet in the SAME Excel file.

In this case you can save yourself the trouble by linking the Excel data to PowerPoint. Thereafter, PowerPoint will keep the data updated automatically.

Here are the steps:

  1. Copy from Excel as usual
  2. Choose Paste Special in PowerPoint (Alt E S or Ctrl Alt V)
  3. Choose Paste Link
  4. Choose the first option and click OKCopy Paste - Paste Link
  5. Save the Presentation
  6. Now make some changes to the data in Excel
  7. Come back to the presentation. Notice that the changes are automatically shown.
  8. Changes to data as well as formatting are automatically reflected.
  9. This is called Paste Link
  10. If you right click on the linked item, you can actually see this menuimage
  11. Using the Open option you can even open the related Excel file from right within PowerPoint

Real-life scenario

In the above example, both files were open at the same time. However, in real life, you will usually edit the Excel data across the month and at that point of time, you presentation is not going to be open.

Similarly, when you open the presentation to prepare for the end of the month review, the Excel file is unlikely to be open.

But you don’t have to worry. The PowerPoint presentation remembers that there is a link and it manages that link for you. Whenever you open the presentation, it will ask you if you want to update the link. If you choose Continue, it will find the Excel file and open it (behind the scenes) and update the data.


This dialog may look a little different depending upon your settings and version of Office.

Link information

In the File – Info page of PowerPoint, you can view and edit the links.

Powerpoint Edit Link

Links are not good for others – break them!

Who benefits from the linking? You – the creator.

If you send this file to some other person, they don’t really need this automated linkage. They are unlikely to have access to your original Excel file. When they open the file, the update dialog will still appear – confusing them unnecessarily.

Therefore, when you send the presentation to others, it is better to break the links.

But wait! Don’t remove links from the original file. Make a copy first.

Go to File – Info – Edit Links, Select the links and choose Break Link.

Now the linked items just become pictures.

Remember, linking a file does not increase the size of the presentation.

The disadvantage

The PowerPoint file has information about the linked Excel file. But the Excel file has no clue that there is a presentation linked to it.

Therefore, if you rename or move the Excel file, PowerPoint update may fail. If you know the new name or location of the file, you can choose it again and the link will be re-established.

In the next article, we will see how to Embed a file.

3 thoughts on “Copy Paste – Part 5 – Paste Link and Embedding”

Comments? Suggestions? Wish list?