How to link Excel Data to PowerPoint Charts

Excel and PowerPoint are two powerful tools offered by the Microsoft Office suite. If you’ve ever used these products before, you’ll know that they each have specific uses.

Excel is used for creating, maintaining, and managing spreadsheets. PowerPoint, on the other hand, is for creating and presenting slideshow presentations.

Your business likely uses both these solutions independently, but sometimes, you might need to use your Excel data for a chart in a PowerPoint slide.

You may want to show your current year’s sales against projected sales for the next year. Or, you might want to create a Gantt chart that demonstrates how a project has been planned and how the resources have been allocated.

In both scenarios, linking your data from Excel to a PowerPoint chart can strengthen your presentation.

Advantages of linking Excel to PowerPoint dynamically

It’s quite possible to display an Excel chart in a PowerPoint presentation simply by pasting a screenshot. However, doing that instead of dynamically link a chart means you won’t enjoy the following advantages:

Updated figures and numbers

When you have a presentation slide with a linked Excel chart, you don’t have to worry about whether the numbers are updated or not. If your spreadsheet is up to date and current, then so are the figures in your presentation chart.

Single point of updates

If you do need to update figures to align with the latest reports, you only need to do it once in the spreadsheet. If you were relying on those numbers for one or even multiple presentations, you only need to change them in one place to update them everywhere else.

Easy formatting to brand colors

When presenting on the behalf of a corporate employer, you need to keep your presentation consistent with the brand colors and appearance.

If your spreadsheets and charts are plain numbers, you’ll find it easier to format them to brand guidelines in the presentation.

You wouldn’t be able to do that with an image unless you go through the effort of manually formatting the spreadsheet.

No more manual updates

If you’re using a screenshot, you’ll need to remember to replace that image every time you make a change to the spreadsheet. If you forget, your presentation data will be inaccurate.

On the other hand, if your charts are linked, you don’t have to think about which presentations you need to edit and where. And remember, you only need to do it once, which drastically reduces the chance of data entry errors.

Plus, you won’t have to format the presentation with each new entry!

Methods of linking Excel charts to PowerPoint

There are a few different ways of inserting a chart from an Excel spreadsheet into your presentation:

Pasting a screenshot of the chart

If you have a chart created in Excel, you can take a screenshot and paste that image into your presentation. As we’ve said, this would be a static image and any changes to the numbers would mean you’d need to paste a fresh screenshot into your presentation slide every time.

Advantages of pasting a screenshot

If it’s a chart that doesn’t change very often and you’re using it in a single presentation, a screenshot can be a viable method of displaying the relevant information.

  • It’s a quick and easy way to show your chart in a presentation.
  • You won’t have to manage the display or formatting of the chart.
  • If the chart is pre-formatted in a way you’re happy to display, you won’t have to do it again.

Disadvantages of pasting a screenshot

An image that displays your Excel chart can be a problem if your chart has numbers that change often.

  • As we mentioned earlier, every time the figures change, you would need to take a fresh screenshot and insert it into the presentation.
  • If your spreadsheets aren’t formatted for visual appeal, you’ll either have to format them just for the slide or risk putting a plain chart in your presentation.
  • If you forget to update the slide after updating data in the spreadsheet, you’ll risk presenting outdated information.

Copy-pasting the chart to your PowerPoint slide

Another way of linking an Excel chart to your PowerPoint presentation is by copying and pasting the chart onto the slide. Simply go to the spreadsheet and copy the chart you want (by pressing CTRL+C or using menu options to do so).

Go to your presentation and paste it onto the slide by pressing CTRL+V on your keyboard. As soon as you paste it, you’ll see pasting options.

If you wish to keep the appearance of the chart as it was in the spreadsheet, select “keep source formatting and link data”.

On the other hand, if you only want the figures from the spreadsheet but want the appearance to match the presentation, select “Use destination theme and link data”.

With this method, updating the data in the spreadsheet will automatically update it in the presentation. Bear in mind that if the presentation is open when you make changes in Excel, you won’t need to do anything for the data to update itself.

However, if your presentation file was closed when you updated the spreadsheet, you’ll have to click on the chart in the slide and select “Edit data” or “Edit data in Excel” for the numbers to update.

Advantages of copy-pasting the chart to your slide

  • You can easily customize the format as a chart object.
  • You don’t get security warnings every time you open the presentation.

Disadvantages of copy-pasting the chart

  • Renaming, duplicating, or moving the Excel file breaks the link.
  • Emailing the files will break the links for the recipient (as the downloaded files won’t have the same path).
  • Moving the source range of data in Excel when the presentation file is closed will mean the chart will not update the data.
  • Links only work for charts, not tables.

Using “Special Paste” to insert the chart into your presentation

When inserting a chart from Excel onto a PowerPoint slide, you can also use “Special Paste”. The copying process is the same as in the regular copy and paste.

However, when you go to paste the chart on your PowerPoint slide, go to the Home tab, click on the arrow next to paste and select “Special Paste”, followed by “Paste Link”. Then, select “Microsoft Excel Worksheet Object” or, if it’s a chart, “Microsoft Excel Chart Object”.

Again, if both files are open when you make changes to the chart in Excel, the linked slide in the presentation will automatically update. If the presentation was closed when you changed the chart, then you will be asked if you want to “Update the Links” when you open it next.

Advantages of using Special Paste

  • You can create a link for both charts and tables.

Disadvantages of using Special Paste

  • The pasted information is treated as an image, not an object, so it can’t be edited and resizing might make it blurry.
  • Even a single linked object means that updates take much longer.
  • Renaming or moving the Excel file will result in a broken link.
  • Emailing the files will result in broken links for the recipient.
  • You cannot link values within the textboxes and shapes.
  • Every time you open your PowerPoint presentation, you will get a security warning, which may get annoying.

Using think-cell to insert the chart into your PowerPoint presentation

Another way to link excel data to charts in PowerPoint presentations is by using think-cell. Our solution is great for addressing common frustrations felt by PowerPoint users.

Once you’ve installed our software, simply head over to your Excel spreadsheet with the data you need. Select the relevant cells and head over to the “Elements” menu in the think-cell menu in Excel.

Selecting the chart type you want will automatically activate the PowerPoint window. When you hover the mouse over your slide, you’ll see the insertion rectangle, indicating that you can click and place the chart wherever you want it.

Your chart is now inserted into the slide while drawing data from the Excel spreadsheet.

Advantages of using think-cell to link your Excel data to PowerPoint charts

  • Your chart will be a native PowerPoint object, not a linked object that will break if the original Excel file is moved.
  • You can edit the chart even when the Excel file is unavailable.
  • Changing the file name or path will not break the link between the files, which can be reestablished simply by opening both the presentation and the spreadsheet at the same time.
  • You can link the chart on PowerPoint to Excel at any point, not just when they’re created.
  • Updates are fast.
  • You don’t get annoying security warnings.
  • Your email recipients won’t face any broken links.

Automating charts in PowerPoint with data from Excel is not the only benefit of think-cell. The software makes it easy for both applications to interact, which allows you to link data from Excel and programmatically control it.

You also save 70% of your working time through full integration with MS Office. Plus, we have a wealth of resources for troubleshooting minor problems, like if your data isn’t updating automatically.

So, if this solution sounds perfect for your needs, why not get in touch for your free quote?