During your work week, there are probably lots of times that you find yourself copying and pasting information from Excel into Word, or the other way around.
This is how people often produce written reports based on data that’s accumulated and updated in an Excel spreadsheet. We’ve offered a lot of really cool tips and tools for Excel over the years, such as Saikat’s article on producing professional looking charts, and Steve’s article on cool Excel templates for project management.
In this article, I’m going to dive a little more into the background VBA scripting that allows you to actually program connections between data that might be stored in an Excel file and Word documents where you may be producing reports.
It’s actually surprisingly easy to integrate Excel data into Word once you know how to add the right references, and how to lay out the syntax of the background VBA code.
Integrating Data From Excel Into Your Word Document
In this example, I’m going to start out with a fairly simple Excel spreadsheet. In reality, the Excel file can consist of multiple spreadsheets with lots of data, it doesn’t matter.
So long as you know where the data resides in the spreadsheet, you’ll be able to reach in and grab it using VBA.
Here’s what my sample spreadsheet looks like. It’s a list of expense totals that have been calculated throughout the entire year.
Now, lets say you have a manager that would like to see a nicely formatted report that describes the expenses, grouping together like items and laying it all out in a layout that’s a little more pleasing to the eye (and easier for the big boys upstairs to understand).
You can do this by incorporating objects like textboxes or labels into your Word document. When you’re in Word, just click on the Developer menu tab, and then select “Design Mode” in the Controls box. Use the Legacy Tools dropdown icon to find where you can insert labels into your document.
Once you have the label placed in the document where you want it (not always an easy task), you’re ready to program the data feed. But first you’ll need to name the label so that the VBA can identify it. Right click on the label and go into Properties. Find the “(Name)” field and call it something that you’ll remember.
Now, add a Command Button from the same Legacy Tools dropdown list, place it in your document, and double click it to open up the VBA editor. When you get your code working later, you can modify it so that the code runs on the Document Open() event. You’ll see that in the object dropdown boxes in the editor window.
To get started connecting Word to Excel, you’ll need to reference Excel. Click on Tools, and then References. Scroll down the list until you see the “Microsoft Excel 12.0 Object Library” and select it.
Once you’ve done this, the rest is just a matter of writing a ridiculously simple VBA script to pull in data from an Excel spreadsheet and automatically update the label caption with the data. Here’s how that works.
Private Sub CommandButton1_Click() Dim objExcel As New Excel.Application Dim exWb As Excel.Workbook Set exWb = objExcel.Workbooks.Open("c:\temp\expenses.xls") ThisDocument.yrTotal.Caption = exWb.Sheets("Sheet1").Cells(12, 2) exWb.Close Set exWb = Nothing End Sub
See how that works? The “exWb” Excel application object opens the Excel file at the path you provide it, and it’ll go right into the specific sheet and cell number, extract the data, and place it into the Caption property of the label that you named “yrTotal“.
Here’s the VBA macro in action.
The hard part with dealing with labels in Word is that it’s sometimes hard to align it at the end of a sentence or alongside any other text.
One way of overcoming that is actually incorporating some of the text alongside the data in the VBA code itself. As you can see here, I’ve put the static text right into the Caption when I create the label itself.
Now, all you have to do is include that text when you update the label with your VBA script, and just append the data from the Excel file to the end of that text. Here’s what that kind of code would look like.
Dim objExcel As New Excel.Application Dim exWb As Excel.Workbook Set exWb = objExcel.Workbooks.Open("c:\temp\expenses.xls") ThisDocument.yrTotal.Caption = exWb.Sheets("Sheet1").Cells(12, 2) ThisDocument.totHotels.Caption = "Hotels: " & exWb.Sheets("Sheet1").Cells(5, 2) ThisDocument.TotDining.Caption = "Dining Out: " & exWb.Sheets("Sheet1").Cells(2, 2) ThisDocument.totTolls.Caption = "Tolls: " & exWb.Sheets("Sheet1").Cells(3, 2) ThisDocument.totFuel.Caption = "Fuel: " & exWb.Sheets("Sheet1").Cells(10, 2) exWb.Close Set exWb = Nothing
You can use the string concatenation “&” symbol to place connect the static text with the data extracted from the Excel sheet. Here’s what the final results look like in the updated Word document.
Again, if you don’t want to have a big, ugly grey command button in your word document, just have the data-update script run on Document.Open(), and it’ll all take place behind the scenes.
In fact, in many cases you could create the initial document once, and then you’ll never have to create it again. All you’ll have to do is open it, and all of the labels will automatically update for you with the data from the updated Excel file. All you have to do is click to Print, and submit the report to your manager. A 30 minute report just turned into a 1 minute printout!
Can you think of any other cool uses for this data-integration technique using VBA? Share some of your own ideas and thoughts in the comments section below.