Paste Links for Data, Charts, and Formulas in Excel, Word, PowerPoint

Update data automatically when it changes

Image of a person working with spreadsheet data

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Although you can copy and paste data from one Excel file to another, you can also create a link between two files or workbooks. When you create a link between files, the copied data updates when the original data changes. It's also possible to create a link between a chart located in an Excel workbook and a Microsoft Word file or PowerPoint slide.

Note: The information in this article applies to Excel versions 2019, 2016, 2013, 2010, and Excel for Mac.

Paste Links Between Excel and Word Files

Link Files in MS Excel and Word with Past Link

In the example image, data from an Excel file has been linked to a Word document. The data is pasted into the document as a table. The table can then be formatted using Word's formatting features.

This link is created using the Paste Link option. For paste link operations, the file containing the original data is known as the source file and the second file or workbook containing the link formula is the destination file.

Link Single Cells in Excel With a Formula

Links can also be created between individual cells in separate Excel workbooks using a formula. This method can be used to create a live link for formulas or data, but it only works for single cells.

  1. Select the cell in the ​destination workbook where you want the data to display.
  2. Press the equal sign ( = ) on the keyboard to start the formula.
  3. Switch to the source workbook and select the cell containing the data to be linked.
  4. Press the Enter key. Excel switches back to the destination file. The linked data displays in the selected cell.
  5. Select the linked data to display the link formula in the formula bar above the worksheet.

Paste Link Options in Word and Excel

When pasting a link for data, Word allows you to choose whether to format the linked data using the current settings for either the source or destination files. Excel does not offer these options. Excel automatically applies the current formatting settings in the destination file.

Link Data Between Word and Excel

To link data between Word and Excel:

  1. Open the Excel workbook containing the data to be linked (the source file).
  2. Open the destination file. This can be either an Excel workbook or a Word document.
  3. In the source file, highlight the data to be copied.
  4. In the source file, select Home > Copy. The selected data is surrounded by a dotted line.
  5. In the destination file, select the location where the linked data will be displayed. In Excel, select the cell that will be in the upper left corner of the pasted data.
  6. From the Home tab, select the Paste down arrow to open the Paste Options drop-down menu.
  7. Choose a Link option. The linked data appears in the destination file.

If both files are open when data is updated in the source file, the destination file updates immediately.

If the destination file is closed when the source data is changed, the data in the destination cells update the next time that file is opened.

If the source file is closed when the destination file is opened, an alert box may open to indicate that the document contains links to external files. You'll be asked to Update or Don't Update the links.

View the Link Formula in Excel

The link formula displays differently in older versions of Excel:

  • In Excel 2010 and later versions of the program, if you select the linked data in the destination file, a formula such as =[Book1]Sheet1!A1 appears in the formula bar above the worksheet.
  • In Excel 2007, the linking formula is displayed as {=Excel.Sheet.12|Book1!'!Sheet1!R1C1'} in the formula bar.

In the 2007 formula, the absolute cell reference is written in the style R1C1, which stands for row 1 column 1 and which is equivalent to the more common cell reference style SAS1.

In both formulas, Book1 indicates the name of the source file.

View Link Information in Microsoft Word

To view information about the linked data (such as the source file, the linked data, and the update method) in Word:

  1. Right-click on the linked data to open the context menu.
  2. Select Linked Worksheet Object > Links to open the Links dialog box.
  3. If there is more than one link in the current document, all links are listed in the window at the top of the dialog box. Select a link to display information about that link below the window.

Paste a Link Between Charts in Excel and PowerPoint

Paste a Link Between Charts in Excel, Word, and PowerPoint

Link Charts With Paste Link in PowerPoint and Word

In addition to creating a link for text data or formulas, it is also possible to use Paste Link to connect a chart located in one Excel workbook with a copy in a second workbook. You can also use this method to link an Excel chart to a PowerPoint or Word file.

Once linked, changes to the data in the source file are reflected in both the original chart and the copy located in the destination file.

Choose Source or Destination Formatting

When pasting a link between charts, PowerPoint, Word, and Excel allow you to choose whether to format the linked chart using the current formatting theme for either the source or destination files.

Link Charts in Excel and PowerPoint

The accompanying example image shows a link between a chart in an Excel workbook (the source file) and a slide in a PowerPoint presentation (the destination file).

  1. Open the workbook containing the chart to be copied.
  2. Open the destination presentation file.
  3. In the Excel workbook, select the chart.
  4. In Excel, select Home > Copy.
  5. In PowerPoint, select the slide where the linked chart will be displayed.
  6. In PowerPoint, select the Paste down arrow to open the drop-down list.
  7. Choose either Use Destination Theme or Keep Source Formatting to paste the linked chart into PowerPoint.

If the two files containing the linked charts are both open, changes to the source data update immediately in both charts.

When opening a PowerPoint presentation containing linked data, an alert box may open to indicate a potential security concern. You'll be asked if you want to update the linked data.