Excel Object Linking and Embedding

Object Linking and Embedding (or OLE for short) is a technique used to insert data from one programme into another. We'll create a simple spreadsheet to illustrate the process, and place it in to Word document. When the Excel spreadsheet is updated, you'll see the Word version update itself as well.

If you don't want the data to update in Word, for example, it's called Embedding; if you do want the data to update, it's called Linking. We're going to do Linking. For this exercise, you need Word 2007 to Word 2013 as well as Excel 2007 to 2013.

First, create the simple spreadsheet below, and enter the formula shown in cell E3:

Create this spreadsheet in Excel

When you enter a number in cell E1, the answer is placed in cell E3 (don't do this yet).

With your spreadsheet created, highlight the cells A1 to E3. Click on the Home tab in Excel. On the Clipboard panel, click on Copy.

Now switch to Word. On the Home tab in Word, locate the Clipboard panel, and the Paste item:

Click on Paste. From the Paste menu, select Paste Special:

Paste Special in Excel 2007

When you click on Paste Special, you'll see the following dialogue box appear:

The Paste Special dialogue box

Select Microsoft Office Excel Worksheet Object from the dialogue box. On the left hand side, select Paste Link. Click OK.

When you click OK, Word will insert the spreadsheet from Excel:

The Excel 2007 spreadsheet has been pasted into Word 2007

It's even retained the cell formatting!

To check that it really does update in Word, switch back to Excel. Click inside Cell E1 and enter the number 7 (If your cells are still highlighted, just press the enter key on your keyboard). Press Enter, and you should have the same answer as in the image below:

Update the Excel 2007 spreadsheet

Now switch back to Word, and you should see that it too has the same answer:

The spreadsheet in Word 2007 has been updated

Word has successfully linked the data from Excel ! If you don't want the updates, you would choose Paste from the Paste Special dialogue box instead of Paste Link.

You can link or embed things like Charts or Pivot Tables into Word, though, and it can come in really useful.


In the next part, you'll see how to spruce up an Excel spreadsheet with drawing objects.