How to link Excel to PowerPoint

Why do we need to link Excel to PowerPoint?

Excel and PowerPoint are often used in conjunction with one another to produce financial reports, audit reports, due diligence reports, pitchbooks, investment memorandum, portfolio reviews, and more.

When it comes to budgeting and long-range planning tools, Microsoft Excel continues to dominate; it’s frequently used by accounting and finance professionals at businesses of all sizes.

> Discover 8 Ways to Make Beautiful Financial Charts in Excel

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 add analysis within PowerPoint.

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 as possible not to make any mistakes. This is when individuals want to link their Excel data to 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 restrictive for financial controlling or 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 when linking 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, plus resizing and aligning tables and charts takes a great deal of time and energy, and opens up the opportunity for errors to occur. So, how can you link PowerPoint to Excel for dynamic data updates?

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

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

Benefits of UpSlide’s Excel to PowerPoint Link

  • Export Excel tables or charts to PowerPoint or Word with a single click.
  • Update your tables and charts with new values, by simply clicking ‘update’. Choose to update one object at a time, or all at once.
  • Automatically resize your tables and charts to fit the space. If the Excel data changes, just click once and your document will be updated.
  • Rename, move or work on several versions of the Excel source file and still update the linked Excel parts of your documents.
  • Export your source data as an enhanced metafile, keeping the file size under control to create size optimized presentations.
  • Find the source easily and see when the last update occurred and by whom, all within PowerPoint. UpSlide will know which source is the most recent and should be used for the update.

With UpSlide, be assured that 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

Evidently, UpSlide’s benefits are numerous, including boosting productivity and ensuring data safety. Discover how UpSlide users in Investment Banking save on average 7hrs/month/user with UpSlide’s main features:

We’re also constantly developing and improving our link to ensure that we can help our users work better in Microsoft Office. We’ve recently introduced four new advanced options, created based on user feedback, to improve your control over how the link works.  > Find out more 

How to link Power BI to PowerPoint

Do you find yourself creating more reports in Power BI nowadays? Or, are you considering making the transition to Power BI company-wide?

Our Power BI to PowerPoint Link will enable you to leverage your Power BI reports to tell more inspiring stories with your data.


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

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4 years ago

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

Ijaz Khan
3 years 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!