Linking and embedding data between programs

Importing data as an image

If you cannot import data with the normal copy-paste method, it may be better to import the data in image format. This usually means that you can no longer edit the data in the target program. if you want to edit the image, you have to edit the source and then import the image again (sometimes it may be possible to edit an image in the target program).

To import data as an image:

  1. Select the data in the source program, then open Edit and select Copy.
  2. Open the target program, open Edit and select Paste Special.
  3. From the menu window, select Picture. The program will paste the image as a bitmap.

In Office applications, the commands described above are available through the Clipboard group on the Home tab. Please also note that importing data as an image will can easily increase the file size of the target file. Use this method only if other import methods do not give the desired result.

Linking data

Linking data means that the data is copied from one program to another so that there remains a link between the two. The copied data remains in the source file  (e.g. an Excel file) and the copy is inserted into another file (e.g. a Word document). When the source file is edited, the data will be automatically updated in the target program through the linking.

The programs you use for linking should know how to link data between a source and a target file; programs that support linking include Word and excel. Linking also requires the source data to be saved as a file.

Creating a link

With programs that support linking, follow these steps to link data (the examples were made with Microsoft Office):

  1. Select the data to be linked (e.g. an Excel chart) in the source program, then select Copy on the Home tab.office2013_transfer_chart
  2. Go to the target program (Word in the example), click on the bottom of the Paste menu on the Home tab and select Paste Special from the menu that opens:o2016_transfer_pastespecial
  3. Select Paste Link from the menu window that opens, and accept by clicking on OK. Observe the file path in the image (see Source).
  4. In the example, an Excel chart was linked to a Word document. The original data remains in the Excel file and an ‘image’ of the data is shown in the Word document. If you edit the excel file, the changes will be updated to the target program automatically.office2013_transfer_linkedchart_kavennettu

Embedding data

Embedding data means that we insert an object like a spreadsheet into a word-processor as a so-called embedded object, so that you can edit the spreadsheet by double-clicking on it in the word-processor document. This will actually start the spreadsheet application inside the word processor, and all the features of the spreadsheet program are available to you. Instead of these programs, you can use e.g. image processors or desktop publishing programs.

When you want to edit an embedded object (e.g. an Excel graph in Word), double-click on the object so that the program (in this case Word) will open the object (the Excel graph) in the application in which it was created (Excel). Then you can edit the object as you wish.

Copying an embedded object from source program to target program

To copy an embedded object:

  1. Select the data to be embedded from the source program, then select Copy from the Home tab.
  2. Go to the target program and place the cursor where you want to embed the object. Click on the bottom of the Paste menu on the Home tab and select Paste Special. In the window that opens, select the import method with the word ‘object’ in it (e.g. Microsoft Office Excel Worksheet Object). Accept by clicking on OK:

Creating an embedded Excel spreadsheet with the target program

You can also create a new embedded Excel object by putting the cursor in the place where you want to create the embedded object, then going to the Insert tab of the target program. Click on the Table button and select Excel Spreadsheet from the menu that opens. The table will appear in the place you chose in the target program.


When you create a new object, the program you are using to create the object shows ‘inside’ the target program; in the example below, an Excel spreadsheet is being created as an embedded object in Word, so the menus, toolbars and grid that you see belong to Excel, though a document created in Word is displayed behind them.


You can leave the source application (Excel in the image above) by clicking outside the grid borders and inside the Word document. This will take you back to the original program (Word). If the source application has opened in its own window, open its Office menu and select Exit.

Editing an embedded object in the target program

If you want to edit an object that has been imported and embedded from another program, double-click on the object with the mouse. The object will open with the program it was originally created with. leave the program as described above.