8 Surprising Ways You Can Import Data into Microsoft Word

Dann Albright 10-03-2016

Microsoft Word is the de facto standard program for Microsoft Office documents, from research papers to professional reports How to Create Professional Reports and Documents in Microsoft Word This guide examines the elements of a professional report and reviews the structuring, styling, and finalizing of your document in Microsoft Word. Read More . But sometimes you have data in another program that you need to reference; it might be in Microsoft Excel, it might be a PDF, it could even be another Word document. Knowing how to import that data can save you a lot of time.


In this article, we’ll cover eight different ways you can import information into your Microsoft Word documents; some will be useful for things like reports, others will be good for form letters and similar projects, and others will just save time in a few specific situations when you need something out of the ordinary 10 Simple Microsoft Word Hacks Everyone Can Do Our knowledge about Microsoft Word is tested every time we get a document to work on. Every little tip learnt along the way helps. How about ten more tricks for your daily productivity? Read More .

Since Microsoft Excel is the most versatile resource to import data from, we’ll start there.

Import a Table From Microsoft Excel

Formatting tables in Microsoft Word 8 Formatting Tips for Perfect Tables in Microsoft Word Microsoft Word tables are essential formatting tools. Find out how to make a table and format it perfectly with these simple tips. Read More is terrible. That’s why Microsoft Excel exists, right? Fortunately, Microsoft had the foresight to let you include tables directly from Excel into your Word document so you can do all the formatting in Excel, where it’s a lot easier.

To get started, select the cells you want to copy in Microsoft Excel, hit Edit > Copy, and head back over to Microsoft Word.



Go to Edit > Paste Special… (or right-click and select Paste Special…) and select Paste Link in the left sidebar. In the As… menu, select Microsoft Excel Worksheet Object, then hit OK.


You’ll now see the cells you selected right in your Microsoft Word document. And because you selected Paste Link instead of Paste, those cells will update whenever you make changes in your Microsoft Excel spreadsheet.



If you select Paste instead of Paste Link, your cells won’t update when you make changes in the spreadsheet. It does have the advantage, however, of working whether the Excel sheet is present or not. So if you’re not going to need updates — if you’re printing, or you’re going to email the file to someone else and it needs to show the correct data, for example — you might want to use Paste.

Import a Single Cell From Microsoft Excel

You can also use the same method as above for individual cells:


In this case, instead of selecting Microsoft Excel Worksheet Object, I selected Unformatted Text; this is why the number comes in with the same formatting as the rest of the Microsoft Word document. It still updated in the same way, but you don’t have to deal with trying to get the text box in the right place.



You can use this same strategy with an entire table, if you want to keep the formatting consistent with your Word document, too. If this isn’t working, or you need a more complicated behavior from your single cell, you can try using Visual Basic to integrate Excel data How to Integrate Excel Data Into a Word Document 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... Read More into your Word document.

Import a Graph or Chart From Microsoft Excel

Like importing a table, it can be very convenient to import a graph or chart from Microsoft Excel into Word, so that it automatically updates whenever you make changes to the Excel spreadsheet. This could be especially useful if you have to create regular reports that include graphs. Fortunately, Microsoft has made this process extremely easy: just copy and paste the graph from Microsoft Excel into Word.



You can also click and drag the graph from Microsoft Excel to Word to embed it in the file. Either way you go, the chart will now automatically update whenever you make changes to the original spreadsheet.

Mail Merge From Microsoft Excel

A mail merge lets you create a large number of letters, labels, envelopes, or just about anything else in Microsoft Word using data from Excel. Brad’s article on how to mail merge with Microsoft Excel and Word How to Print Labels with Mail Merge in Microsoft Word and Excel Are you still using copy-and-paste to create labels, name badges, or other personalized mass communications? Mail Merge, a simple Microsoft Office automation tool, will let you print your labels in seconds. Read More covers the topic in more detail than I ever could, but the short version is that you’ll use Tools > Mail Merge Manager to select your data source and create the template in Microsoft Word.


If you’re using an older version of Microsoft Office, this mail merge tutorial using Office 2007 Automate Office With Mail Merge to Create Professional Address Labels, Name Badges, and More Are you still using copy&paste to create labels, name badges, or otherwise customized documents? Let us show you a simple Microsoft Office automation tool that will save you hours! Read More might be of use, and you can even use mail merge for mass emailings in Outlook How to Send Personalized Mass Emails in Outlook With Mail Merge Read More . It can take a while to get the hang of using mail merge, but once you get it, it will be one of the most useful tools in your Office arsenal.

Importing PDF Files

A quick word of warning: when you import a PDF into Microsoft Word, it basically comes in as an image file, and not text. If you want to be able to select or modify text, you’ll need to copy and paste it from the PDF file. If, however, you just want to embed a PDF in your Microsoft Word document, hit Insert > Object, then select From File… and choose your PDF.


You’ll end up with the PDF embedded like this:


It’s not great for text-based PDFs, but if there are images in the file, it’s easier than copying and pasting or finding a way to turn the PDF into an image file to insert it into your Microsoft Word document.

Automatically Importing Text from Other Word Documents

If you need to type the same thing on a regular basis, you might be able to save time by putting it in a Microsoft Word document and simply referencing it from another document.

Let’s say you have a bunch of form letters that you need to send that all need to include your name and the company you work for, but your employer changes on a regular basis. You don’t want to change every letter whenever you get a new contract, so you can just store your signoff in one document and have all the others update whenever you make a change.

Going through an example will help make this more clear. Here’s an “updateable text” document that I’ve saved:


I want to include each of these — a signoff, contact information, and a quote — in each of the letters. To do this, I’ll create a bookmark on each one. To create a bookmark, highlight the text you want to link in other documents, then click Insert > Bookmark.


Type in the name of your bookmark and click Add.


Now, save the file and make a note of the full path to where it’s saved. To insert your saved text, go to another Microsoft Word document and hit Insert > Field. Select IncludeText from the Field Names menu.


Now, in the text box below the menu, type “INCLUDETEXT “[path to the file]” [name of the bookmark]”. When I typed it, it looked like this:

INCLUDETEXT "Macintosh HD:Users:dralbright:Documents:updateable-text.docx" signoff

(If you’re using Windows, you’ll need to use the standard notation for paths, which starts with “C:\\”. Note that you need to include two backslashes between each section instead of one.) Now hit OK, and you’ll see the text inserted into your document.


Every once in a while, you’ll type something wrong, and you’ll get an error, like this one:


To fix it, right-click anywhere on the error and select Toggle Field Codes — this will let you see and edit the codes from inside the document. You can also use this on fields that are working correctly if you need to make a change.


From here, you can make any fixes you need to. In this example, there’s an extra equals sign at the beginning of the code.


After removal of the equals sign, the field works correctly.

To make a change across all of the documents that you’ve linked to your bookmark, go back to your common text file, and simply make the changes. Here, I’ve replaced the Groucho Marx quote with one from Oscar Wilde.


In your other documents, right-click on the field that has been updated, and select Update Field.


And, there you have it, the field updates with the new information.


This might seem like a lot of work, but if you have to type the same things on a regular basis, it could save you a huge amount of time in the long run. It takes some setup time on the front end, but you’ll see the convenience of this system immediately. Don’t forget to check out other useful Office automations with IFTTT How to Automate Microsoft Office Tasks with IFTTT Recipes IFTTT, the automation service that will complete an action once another condition is met, now has 50 task recipes for Microsoft Office. We show you how it works and offer a selection of recipes. Read More to save time, too.

Import Text from a Text File or Microsoft Word Document

If you want to get text from a text file or Word document, but don’t want to open it, select everything, copy it, go back to your document, and paste it (this can take a long time if you have hundreds of pages of text), you can import directly. Just hit Insert > File and select the text file or Word document you want to import text from.


After you’ve selected the file (you may have to change the Enable dropdown to All readable documents), you’ll see the full text in your Microsoft Word document.

Import Text from a Web Page

If you want to keep an updated copy of a web page in a Microsoft Word document, you can do that too! Let’s say I want to an online text file containing A Tale of Two Cities in my document. I’ll use the same INCLUDETEXT field, but instead of using a local path, I’ll use the URL:


Updating the field brings the entire book into my document.


You’ll get the best results with a text-heavy website. You can see what happens when I try to use INCLUDETEXT to bring in MakeUseof’s home page:


If you have a need for importing the updated text from a website into your document, this is definitely worth playing around with. You might have to experiment a bit, but it could potentially be a very useful tool.

What Do You Import Into Microsoft Word?

We’ve covered eight different things you can import into Microsoft Word Yes, Get Microsoft Word for Free: Here's How Don't want to pay for the full Microsoft Word experience? Here are some ways on how you can use Microsoft Word for free. Read More here — but there are probably more options out there. What have you imported into Microsoft Word? Share the most useful things you’ve been able to import, so we can all help each other save some time by becoming Word masters 10 Essential Microsoft Word Routines You Have to Know The word "routine" is the very image of boring. Except when it comes to a productivity app like Microsoft Word. Every second saved adds to the comfort of using it for our daily needs. Read More !

Related topics: Microsoft Office Tips, Microsoft Word.

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  1. BND
    March 26, 2019 at 7:46 am

    Is it possible to automatically update data in a word table from a csv which may change.

  2. Anne
    August 24, 2017 at 3:08 pm

    I am trying to merge multiple lines of an excel document into a Word table. I am getting a many word document with one line on each page and not multiple lines in the one table. Do you know of any way to do this?

  3. Murthy
    August 10, 2017 at 10:43 am


    Thanks for the wonderful info and excellent articulation. Thanks for sharing !. After Excel, XML & JSON are the most commonly used data formats. Populating XML and JSON data into Microsoft Word makes it humanly readable and solves some of the common problems Organizations face in document generation.


  4. Jafar
    March 28, 2017 at 7:07 pm

    That's great information, thanks for sharing it!
    I have a question though; is there any way of exporting data from a Word file to an Excel file?
    Let's say I have information in Word that I want to get exported to an Excel spreadsheet in specific rows and columns. Could that be done somehow?

    • Dann Albright
      March 29, 2017 at 6:02 pm

      That's an interesting one! Is the data in a Word table? If it is, you can probably just copy and paste it. If not, you might have to manually convert it into a CSV or do some find-and-replace or VBA trickery.