How to Link to and Embed Excel Files in Word Documents

Learn how to link Excel to Word and keep the document always updated

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When you need to create a report filled with data and information, make your data more powerful by displaying it in a formatted Microsoft Word document. There are two methods to do this. Either create a link to an Excel worksheet or embed the Excel worksheet into the Word document.

The information in this article applies to Excel 2019, Excel 2016, Excel 2013, and Excel 2010.

How to Link Excel to Word in Excel 2019, 2016 and 2013

Linking an Excel file to a Word document ensures that the Word document is updated every time the data in the Excel file changes.

This works as a one-way link feed that brings the updated Excel data into the linked Word document. Linking an Excel worksheet also keeps your Word file small because the data isn't saved in the Word document.

Linking to an Excel worksheet to Word document has a few limitations:

  • If the Excel file is moved, the link to the Word document needs to be re-established.
  • If you plan to transport the Word file or use it on another computer, the Excel file must be transported along with it.
  • Data editing must be done in the Excel worksheet. This isn't a problem unless you require different spreadsheet formats in the Word document.

To insert any part of an Excel worksheet, follow these steps:

  1. Open the Word document where the spreadsheet will display.

  2. Open the Excel worksheet that contains the data you want to link to the Word document.

  3. In Excel, select and copy the range of cells you want to include. If you plan to insert more columns or rows into the worksheet, select the entire worksheet.

    To select the entire worksheet, select the box located in the upper left corner at the juncture of the row numbers and column letters.

    Screenshot of cells selected in Excel
  4. In the Word document, position the cursor where you want to insert the linked table.

  5. Right-click and select Link & Use Destination Styles or Link & Keep Source Formatting under Paste Options.

    Destination Styles uses the default Word table formatting, which usually results in a better-looking table. Keep Source Formatting uses the formatting from the Excel workbook.

    Screenshot of Link & Keep Source Formatting in Word Paste Options
  6. Your Excel data pastes directly into the Word document where the cursor was positioned. If changes are made to the source Excel file, the Word document updates with those changes automatically.

Embed an Excel Spreadsheet Object

The process of embedding an Excel worksheet in a Word document is essentially the same as linking to an Excel worksheet. It does require a few extra clicks, but it brings all data from the worksheet into your document, not only the selected range.

There are two ways to embed an Excel sheet in Word. The first is to embed the worksheet as an object. The second is to insert a table.

When you embed a worksheet, Word uses the formatting from the Excel worksheet. Make sure that the data in the worksheet looks the way you want it to appear in the Word document.

To embed an Excel worksheet as an object:

  1. Open the Word document.

  2. Select Insert > Object > Object. (In Word 2010, select Insert > Object.) The Object dialog box will open.

    Screenshot of Object drop-down on Insert tab in Word
  3. Select the Create from File tab.

    Screenshot of Create from File tab on Object dialog box
  4. Select Browse and find the Excel worksheet that contains the data you want to embed.

  5. Select Insert and select OK.

The Excel worksheet is now embedded in the Word document. 

Embed an Excel Spreadsheet Table

An alternative to this is to insert the Excel worksheet as a table. This inserts the worksheet the same way as if it were embedded as an object. The difference is that it opens a blank Excel worksheet for you to fill out.

Choose this method if you haven't created the Excel file yet.

To insert the Excel worksheet as a table in Word 2010:

  1. Open a Word document.

  2. Place the cursor where you want to insert the Excel worksheet.

  3. Select Insert > Table.

    Screenshot of Excel Spreadsheet on Insert Table menu
  4. Select Excel Spreadsheet in the drop-down list.

This opens a blank Excel worksheet that you can fill out with your data. You can either enter new data or paste data from another spreadsheet.

Why not just insert a regular Word table and fill it out? When you insert and fill out a new Excel worksheet, you have an Excel file that can be updated any time you like. The data in the Word table automatically updates to match the data in the Excel file.