PowerPoint: Where’s My Chart Data?

Excel Charts are prime examples of the old saying “A picture is worth a thousand words,” and PowerPoint presentations provide a great vehicle for passing a chart’s message on to an audience. So the combination of an Excel chart on a PowerPoint slide is a powerful way to get a point across. But what if the chart data change? How do we update the slide?

The first part of the updating answer lies in how the chart was added to the slide. Assuming the chart was created in Excel and then copied in preparation for adding it to the slide, there are basically three different ways to paste the chart – embedding the chart, linking the chart, and pasting the chart as a picture. Each of those impacts your ability to update the chart. These choices are available by clicking the drop-down arrow next to the paste icon at the lower right corner of the pasted chart:

Graphic of paste options
Paste Options

If you paste the chart as a picture, you are establishing no connection between the underlying data and the pasted chart. This is a good choice if the data is historical and you see little need to update in the future.

If you paste the chart with a link, the original data and the original chart are still sitting in the Excel file. As long as you maintain the link by keeping the Excel and PowerPoint files in their original locations, updates to the Excel data will automatically be reflected in the Excel chart within the Excel workbook and in the chart on the PowerPoint slide.

If you embed the chart, you are placing the entire Excel file – not just the chart – in the PowerPoint file. Returning to the original Excel file and editing its data has no impact on the chart in PowerPoint. To edit the data, with the chart on the slide selected, you would choose the Design tab in the Chart Tools section of the PowerPoint Ribbon. In the Data group, clicking the Edit Data icon opens the embedded Excel file for edit. Excel calls the opened file “Chart in Microsoft PowerPoint.” This file is a separate file from the original Excel file.


  1. Carmen

    Is there a way to create a table in Powerpoint 2010 and then convert that table into a chart? Thank you for your help.

  2. Amy Potts

    I am working with a client who is using PPT 2010 to present Excel charts (scatter charts).

    He has embedded an Excel file into a slide (as an icon) and then opened the file and copied the resulting chart into another slide. Unfortunately, once this is done and he tries to access the data he gets the following message: “The server application, source file, or item cannot be found. Check that the path and file name are correct, or try reinstalling the server application.” He sent me the file and in PPT 2007and I am getting the same results.

    Yet, if I do the exact same procedures in 2007 it works perfectly for him and I. So what’s up with 2010 not embedding properly?


  3. Martytag

    I have an excel workbook that has several pivot tables in it. I found that the embedding option for PPT does not copy over all the pivot table category labels that are in the pivot table chart in excel. that I would get if I do a picture paste. I have ran into a problem to where I can not save my PPT file. It saves and closes fine, just like every other PPT I make. BUT when I go to open it I get the message:

    PowerPoint found a problem with content in the
    PowerPoint can attempt to repair the presentation.
    If you trust the source of this presentation, click Repair.

    PowerPoint removed unreadable content in .
    You should review this presentation to determine whether any content was unexpectedly changed or removed

    So Repairing the file gives me all my text slides, but all of my embedded charts that use the Figure format slide template are now gone,with title slide formats in their place. Sometimes I will have 1 chart that makes it through the repair but the other 19 are GONE! I tried to make a PDF file out of the completed PPT after I saved it and did not close the PPT. I still got shut down and could not make the PDF. Do you have any idea what it is I am doing wrong?

  4. sutty

    i want to show 30+ charts in power point and one presentation file per department. I have 20 departments here. As this for higher management and they were using this approach for 4 years I cannot change the approach like SSRS portal or Performance point dashboard etc…. I will create the 20 PowerPoint files initially by fetching the data from main central excel file which have data from all department and all charts associated for that.
    I hope you understood my scenario. Now I want charts in all files updated automatically from next time onwards. Means every 2 months. What I can do is Embed the charts or link the excel file but problems is every time I have to open this 20 files and update the links and then email the updated PowerPoint file management …so my first question is ..is it possible to update the PowerPoint file without opening and manually linking chart source data? Any option using automated jobs or asp.net code or macro or SharePoint for updating data for charts inside PowerPoint?
    Is it possible to attach/insert excel file inside one PowerPoint file and charts use that ?. I don’t want to send two files when we send presentation file through email. Please suggest me a solution for my scenario as I don’t want users do the data update from their side as they may not have access to the source excel file or path may be broken

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