Five simple tips for using Excel 2010 data in Word

A lot of Office users think getting Excel data into a Word document is complicated, mysterious, or impossible. These tips demonstrate how easy it is to paste, embed, link, chart, and store Excel data for convenient access.

Many of your end users need to use their Excel data in Word, but they often don't understand the various ways they can do it. Here are a few tips you can share with them to help them make Excel and Word 2010 work together.

1: Just use a simple copy and paste

The easiest, no-brainer way to add data from any Office 2010 app to a Word document is, of course, to just copy and paste it. And sometimes this is exactly the technique you need. Perhaps you just want a couple of columns of numbers to back up your rose-colored projections for the fourth quarter. Or maybe you need a list of new employees for the report you owe HR. Either way, selecting the data in Excel, pressing Ctrl+C, and then pasting by pressing Ctrl+V in Word will do the trick.

2: Embed data you're still tweaking

Excel worksheets often contain moving pictures -- they provide snapshots of businesses or projects or data as it changes over time. Depending on what you're capturing in your worksheet, you may want to include the data in your Word document but still have the option to update it in the documnet later. By embedding the data instead of just copying and pasting it, you can open Excel and edit the worksheet information from within Word.

To embed your Excel worksheet, click the Insert tab, click Object, and then click Object again. In the Object dialog box, click Browse to select the file. Click OK, and Word incorporates the Excel information as an object in your file. When you click on the data you added, an Excel worksheet opens so that you can change the content displayed there. Note, however, that this change won't be reflected in the original Excel worksheet.

3: Keep a link for safekeeping (and data editing)

Perhaps you are familiar with the process of linking data in a file, as opposed to doing a simple copy and paste or embedding the information. Copy and paste works fine if the data you're pasting doesn't need to be updated ever again. But if that data is dynamic, showing, for example, changing sales totals or the current number of enrollees, and you'll be using your Word document over time -- perhaps for training all new sales associates -- you can link the data to your Excel worksheet so that it is updated automatically as the data changes.

To create the link to an Excel worksheet, add the data as an object by choosing the Insert tab and clicking Object in the Text group. Click Object again and in the Object dialog box, click the Create From File tab. Click Browse to select the file, click the Link To File check box, and click OK. This creates a link to the source file so that whenever the Excel worksheet data changes, the Word document data will change as well.

4: Chart it

Perhaps you aren't interested in showing the actual values in that report you're preparing, but you want to portray the trends the data is demonstrating. In that case, you can create a chart in Excel, with all the bells and whistles, and incorporate it in your Word document. Use Word's Paste Options to decide how you want the chart to be pasted in the document. Simply right-click where you want to add the chart and hover your mouse over the available Paste choices (Figure A). You can:
  • Adopt the theme of the Word document and embed the chart data.
  • Keep the formatting from the Excel worksheet and embed the data.
  • Apply the theme of the Word file and link the data.
  • Keep the source formatting and link the data.
  • Paste the Excel data as an image, with no linking or embedding.

Figure A

Paste the chart in Word by using the Paste options.

5: Use OneNote as a go-between

What if you're working with final tables of data that you'd like to reference in your Word documents, your PowerPoint presentations, and in notes and email messages you send? If you use OneNote, you can easily incorporate the Excel data in your notebook and then use the Linked Notes feature (available in the OneNote group in the Review tab) to add the data in your documents and presentations whenever you like. It's a good way to keep your ready-to-use data in one location where team members know it is ready for public use.