How To Guide: Link Excel to PowerPoint

Why do we need to link Excel and PowerPoint?

Excel and PowerPoint are often used in conjunction with one another to produce financial reports, audit reports, due diligence reports, pitch books, investment memorandum, portfolio reviews, etc. This list is never ending and we can only imagine how many hours, more likely days, are spent every year by employees on producing reports.

When it comes to budgeting and long-range planning tools, Microsoft Excel continues to dominate: 54% of U.S. companies  rely on Excel for budgeting and planning. And while Excel is frequently used by accounting and finance professionals at businesses of all sizes, research indicates that it is particularly popular with smaller companies (less than $25 million turnover annually).

54% of U.S. companies use Excel for budgeting and long-range planning.
Global Report: Benchmarking the Accounting and Finance Function 2019

Whilst Excel is the leading tool for preparing advanced financial analyses, PowerPoint is the most popular choice when it comes to presenting these results; more often than not people will copy and paste tables and charts from Excel and then comment on them in PowerPoint.

> Discover 8 Ways to Make Beautiful Financial Charts in Excel

However, when data changes in Excel (for example when you receive the new period’s figures from your ERP system), this means you’ll need to manually update all the tables and charts in PowerPoint whilst being as careful s possible not to make any mistakes. It’s in situations like that users may wish to link their Excel data with PowerPoint.

If you’re one of those people, you’re in luck; we’ve asked our UpSlide Consultants to explain the three different options for linking data between Excel and PowerPoint, to save you some time:

    Option 1: Use normal Paste Options to link Excel data to PowerPoint

    1. Open the Excel workbook which has the chart you want.
    2. Select the chart.
    3. On the Home tab, in the Clipboard group, click Copy (or press Ctrl+C).
    4. Open the PowerPoint presentation, select the slide that you want to insert the chart into.
    5. On the Home tab click the arrow below Paste, and then do one of the following:
    • If you want the chart to keep the same look and appearance as the Excel file, select Keep Source Formatting & Link Data.
    • If you want the chart to use the look and appearance of the PowerPoint presentation, select Use Destination Theme & Link Data.

    How to update your data in PowerPoint:

    • Scenario 1: PowerPoint and Excel are open and you have just created the link. Any changes on the Excel are automatically changed in your presentation.
    • Scenario 2: Your Excel file (saved or not) is open and you have opened your PowerPoint presentation.
      Right click on the chart and select “Edit Data” or “Edit Data in Excel

    Note: Do the same if PowerPoint is already open and you have just opened your modified Excel file.

    • Scenario 3: Your Excel file is closed:
      > “Edit Data” will open the linked data on a basic spreadsheet to allow you to make changes to the input. Changes made here will be saved to that Excel spreadsheet and it will have an impact on your source file. The interface is also limited.
      > “Edit Data in Excel” will open the source file.

    Limitations for normal Paste Options

    If you move the Excel file to another folder while the PowerPoint file is closed, the link between the chart in the PowerPoint presentation and the data in the Excel spreadsheet will break.

    Likewise, if you duplicate your Excel file, the link will be broken with the new version. Also note that the update is not available when pasting tables.

    Option 2: Use Special Paste to link Excel to PowerPoint

    1. Open the Excel workbook that has the chart that you want.
    2. Select the chart.
    3. On the Home tab, in the Clipboard group, click Copy (or press Ctrl+C).
    4. Open the PowerPoint presentation, select the slide you want to insert the chart into.
    5. On the Home tab click the arrow below Paste, and then click special paste.
    6. Select Paste Link.
    7. Select “Microsoft Excel Worksheet Object” or “Microsoft Excel chart Object” if it is a chart.

    How to update your data in PowerPoint:

    • Scenario 1: PowerPoint and Excel are open and you have just created the link: Any changes on the Excel spreadsheet are automatically made on your presentation.
    • Scenario 2: Excel file (saved or not) is open or closed and you open your PowerPoint presentation:
      You are asked if you want to “Update the links” or not.

    Note: The above process works exactly the same for tables.

    Limitations for Special Paste Options

    The range of cells pasted into PowerPoint corresponds to a fixed field (example: B2; D10) in the Excel sheet. It means that when you add columns or lines to your tables (example: B2; F15) in Excel, the linked table in your presentation will not extend but will keep the same range of cells (B2; D10) hence providing you with the wrong data.

    When you go to re-open your PowerPoint presentation, you are asked to update the links. This scenario can happen…

    Excel How To Guide: Link Excel to PowerPoint

    • If the Excel source file is already open, your presentation will be updated.
    • If the Excel source file is not open, it will force the update to occur (this takes some time, even with a small amount of data).
    • If the Excel source file has been renamed, it will not update your presentation.
    • If you move the Excel source file, the link will not be able to update as it won’t be able to find the file in the original location.

    Note: While working on PowerPoint and Excel, if your PowerPoint presentation remains open and you close the Excel file and rename it just after, you will be able to open the Excel source file directly from PowerPoint and update your data. But if you close your PowerPoint presentation while renaming your Excel file, once you open it again you won’t be able to access the Excel source file.

    Why the Native Excel to PowerPoint Link is painful for Financial Controlling / Reporting:

    Imagine you are working on a monthly report (May for example), and you duplicate your Excel file and your PowerPoint presentation to update them with the new figures for June. The PowerPoint presentation for June remains linked to the Excel source file of May. You won’t be able to update your presentation with the duplicated Excel file.

    > Get to know our Top 3 Productivity Tips to become an Excel Champion

    Option 3: Use the UpSlide Excel-to-PowerPoint Link

    As you can see, there are many problems with using the native options for linking from Excel to PowerPoint, which is why many people prefer to stick with copy and paste. But manually checking that every figure and comment has been updated properly and resizing and aligning tables and charts takes a great deal of time and energy, and opens up the opportunity for errors to occur.

    UpSlide is specifically designed to automatically link Excel and PowerPoint. The solution enables you to populate PowerPoint from your Excel data and, if you later change the existing Excel data, you can update the linked PowerPoint or Word document with the click of a button.

    Request a trial of the link


    Without UpSlide, how long does it take to update a 200 page report? A whole day perhaps? With UpSlide’s Excel to PowerPoint automation, it can be done in a few seconds.

    Exporting a table or chart from Excel to PowerPoint with UpSlide is easy: Just select it and click ‘Export’.

    To update your tables and charts with new values, simply click ‘update’. You can update one object at a time, or update all of them at once.

    .Not only can you export Excel tables or charts with a single click, your data will automatically be resized to fit the space. If the Excel data is then modified, just click once and your document will be updated. UpSlide’s link system is fast, flexible and robust. What’s more, the source data is exported as an enhanced metafile which keeps the file size under control – creating size optimized presentations.

    Finally, and perhaps most importantly, you can rename, move or work on several versions of the Excel source file and still update the linked Excel parts of your documents.



    Benefits of the UpSlide Excel-to-PowerPoint Link

    UpSlide’s benefits are numerous, and they include both boosting productivity and ensuring data safety. Look at how UpSlide users in Investment Banking save on average 9.5hrs/month/user with UpSlide’s main features:

    Here are other key benefits of the Excel-to-PowerPoint Link:

    • Being able to rename files and move them from one folder to another.
    • Ability to easily create different Excel versions like V1, V2, etc
    • Flexiblity and strength of the link.
    • Being able to find the source easily and see when the last update occurred and by whom, whilst also having the ability to open it within UpSlide.

    • UpSlide smartly manages the potential sources; it knows which source is the most recent and which source should be used for the update.
    • UpSlide’s Excel to PowerPoint link helps you avoid mistakes and takes a few seconds to update all data.
    • File sizes are kept 10x lighter than with the native paste.

      Let’s see in this example: (Presentation weight: Based on 100 simple charts and 100 simple tables).

      reduce powerpoint file size with UpSlide

      • 90% decrease in the weight of your PowerPoint presentation when going from a native paste, to a native paste with a link.
      • 20% further decrease in the weight of your PowerPoint presentation when using the UpSlide link as opposed to the native paste with a link.

      > See also: 7 easy ways to reduce Excel file size right now


      We hope you found this useful. Do let us know what you think in the comments!

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      2 years ago

      Hi, Thanks for sharing this informative Guide. It’s really very helpful. keep sharing.

      Ijaz Khan
      1 year ago

      Thank you for your amazing work. I’ve just bought one of your courses on Udemy on Excel Dashboards and I am super impressed. You truly have an amazing, God-given gift to explain in such a way that anyone can understand. Keep it up and be blessed in all that you do!