How To Guide: Link Excel to PowerPoint

  • 10 min.
  • How To Guides
  • By Chandni Trehan, 17/01/2017

Why do we often have to link Excel and PowerPoint?

Excel and PowerPoint are often used together at companies to produce Financial reports, Audit Reports, Due Diligence Reports, Pitch Books, Investment Memorandum, Portfolio Reviews, etc. This list has no end and we could easily ask ourselves how many hours or days are spent every year by employees to produce reports.

When it comes to budgeting and long-range planning tools, Microsoft Excel continues to dominate: 63% of U.S. companies and 69% of Canadian firms rely on Excel for budgeting and planning. While Excel is frequently used by accounting and finance professionals at businesses of all sizes, the survey responses indicate it is especially popular with smaller companies (less than $25 million turnover annually).

63% of U.S. companies use Excel for Budgeting and long-range planning.
Global Report: Benchmarking the Accounting and Finance Function 2016

Excel is the leading tool for preparing advanced financial analyses and PowerPoint is the main way results are presented. Discover 8 Ways To Make Beautiful Finance Charts In Excel. People often copy and paste tables and charts from Excel and add comments.

However, when your data changes in Excel (typical business case: you receive the new period’s figures from your ERP system), you need to update all the tables and charts in PowerPoint without making any mistakes. In situations like this, users may want to somehow link their Excel data with PowerPoint.

UpSlide has found different options available to link data between Excel and PowerPoint, to save you time…

How to link Excel with PowerPoint natively in Microsoft?

Some explanations to start with…

Link or embed an Excel worksheet in PowerPoint. To do so there are three ways to copy objects:

  1. Copy and paste using the normal Edit menu
  2. Copy and embed using the Paste Special menu then Paste
  3. Copy and link using the Paste Special menu then Paste Link

The last two are known as Object Linking and Embedding (OLE)

The main differences between linked objects and embedded objects are where the data is stored and how you can update the data after it’s inserted in your presentation.

  • Linked object
    The information from a linked object in PowerPoint is stored in the Excel source file and can be updated if the source file is modified with respect to some conditions (see below). Use linked objects if the file size is a consideration.
  • Embedded object
    The information from an Excel object that you embed in PowerPoint is also stored in a spreadsheet but not the source file. This means the infomation doesn’t change if you modify the source Excel file. Once embedded, the object is no longer part of the source file and won’t reflect any changes made.

Let’s focus on the linked object.

How to use Paste Options to link Excel data 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 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 its look and appearance from 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.

Then, to update your data:

  • Case 1: PowerPoint and Excel are opened and you just created the link:
    The update is automatic. Any changes on the Excel are automatically impacted on your presentation.
  • Case 2: Excel file (saved or not) is opened and you open your PowerPoint presentation:
    Right click on the chart and “Edit Data” or “Edit Data in Excel”

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

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

Limitations for 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 breaks.

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.

How to use Paste Special 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 that you want to insert the chart into.
  5. On the Home tab click the arrow below Paste, and then click Paste specials
  6. Select Paste Link
  7. Select “Microsoft Excel Worksheet Object” or “Microsoft Excel chart Object” if it is a chart

Then, to update your data:

  • Case 1: PowerPoint and Excel are opened and you just created the link:
    The update is automatic. Any changes on the Excel are automatically impacted on your presentation.
  • Case 2: Excel file (saved or not) is opened or closed and you open your PowerPoint presentation:
    You are asked if you want to “Update the links” or not.

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

The problem with using the Paste Special feature is…

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. These scenarios can happen…

Excel How To Guide: Link Excel to PowerPoint

  • If the Excel source file is already opened, your presentation will be updated.
  • If the Excel source file is not opened, it will force the update to occur (very long with even a short 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, which is what the link on the slide is pointing towards.

Note: While working on PowerPoint and Excel, if your PowerPoint presentation remains open, 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.

How the Native Excel to PowerPoint Link is painful for Financial Controlling / Reporting…

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 of June. The PowerPoint presentation of June remains linked to the Excel source file of May. You won’t be able to update your presentation with the duplicated Excel file.

Problems with manual Copy/Pasting from Excel to PowerPoint

  • Due to these problems people often prefer not to link the data, and just use copy and paste actions. However then the action is not automated at all and they have to do it every time the data changes in Excel.
  • Manually check that every figure and comment has been updated properly.
  • By doing so, a lot of time is spent resizing and aligning tables and charts manually.

Intro to UpSlide Excel to PowerPoint Link

UpSlide is specifically designed to automatically link Excel and PowerPoint. If you later change the existing Excel data, you can update the linked PowerPoint or Word document with the click of a button.


Without UpSlide, how long does it take to update a 200 page report? One day? With UpSlide, you can be done in a few seconds. You can choose to update specific elements or your entire presentation.

How UpSlide Excel-to-PowerPoint Link Works

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, just click ‘update’. You can update one object at a time, or update all of them at once.


Export Excel tables or charts in a single click. Your data is automatically resized to fit the space. If the Excel data is then modified, just click once and your document is updated. UpSlide’s link system is fast, flexible and does not lead to unstable documents. The source data is exported as an enhanced metafile which keeps the file size under control – creating size optimised presentations.

You can rename, move or work on several versions of the Excel source file and still update the linked Excel parts of your documents.

Take a look at how the UpSlide link works in this short video:


Benefits of the UpSlide Excel-to-PowerPoint Link

UpSlide’s benefits are numerous, and all come back to productivity and data safety. Look at how UpSlide users in Investment Banking save 9.5h/month/user on average with UpSlide main features:

Investment Banking

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
  • More flexiblity and robustness of the link.
  • Gather information from the link such as being able to find the source easily, having the ability to open it from UpSlide, know when the last update occured and by whom.

  • 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 avoids mistakes and takes a few seconds to update all data.

Not to forget file sizes are kept small and 4x lighter than with the native link…

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

Paste: 2900 Ko | Paste Link: 300 Ko | UpSlide: 240 Ko

  • 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 in comparison to the native paste with a link.

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

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