Setting up Tables: Microsoft PowerPoint

PowerPoint is a greater master of spreadsheets than Excel. But sometimes you have tables or charts in Excel and would like to use them in your presentation.

How to add tables and charts to a PowerPoint presentation

Copying an Excel spreadsheet onto a slide
Select the table in Excel and copy it using Ctrl + C.
Switch to PowerPoint and click on the slide on which you want the table to appear.
Insert the table using Ctrl + V.

Now two things can happen:

If there is an empty placeholder that can (also) contain tables, the placeholder is replaced by the table when you insert it. If you reset the slide layout, the table is conveniently aligned with the top left corner of the placeholder. See also the below. If the placeholder already has content or no matching placeholder exists, the table will appear somewhere on the slide.

When you look at the newly inserted table, you will notice the small box at the bottom right corner of the table. This is a so-called smart tag that always appears when you insert something somewhere. You can see the options by clicking on the tag. For inserting an Excel spreadsheet the following is offered:

Use target format templates

No matter what the table looks like in Excel, now it looks like the design in PowerPoint. Minus is the font size, which remains as defined in Excel for the time being.

Keep the original formatting

This option inserts the table with the same formatting as in Excel.


On the one hand the table appears in the original Excel layout, on the other hand the Excel file is embedded into the presentation. And not only the table, but the whole Excel workbook with all sheets, formulas, secret source data and so on and so forth! An option you certainly won’t want to use lightly.


With this option you insert the table as an image. Very useful when otherwise complicated formatting is lost. But then you can’t change the content in PowerPoint anymore.
Only accept the text

The last option inserts the table as a text box. Borders and fills disappear, cell contents are “positioned” using tabs. If you want to convert the contents of the table into continuous text, this is certainly a practical option.

The default option is not the first without reason.

Usually you will want to adapt the Excel table to the presentation design. As already mentioned, the font size is taken from Excel and must be adjusted. What Excel also doesn’t know: inner cell wheels. Here, too, you’ll still have to do your bit.

Inserting an Excel Diagram into a PowerPoint Slide:

Select the chart in Excel and copy it to the clipboard using Ctrl +C

Switch to PowerPoint. If the slide has a placeholder in which the chart is to appear, select the placeholder by clicking on its border and insert the chart using Ctrl + V. The chart is then copied to the clipboard. The diagram fills the whole placeholder
If you do not select anything, the diagram is inserted as a free object.

Use target design and embed workbook. The diagram is formatted according to the PowerPoint design – at least in some places, but more about this – and the workbook is embedded. The whole workbook! As mentioned above when inserting a table, this is not a good option. The whole workbook with all its sheets can contain a lot of data that hasn’t been lost in the presentation.

Keep the original formatting and embed the workbook. The same security risk as above, only with the additional circumstance that the chart stubbornly retains the formatting it got in Excel.

Graphics. The diagram is inserted as an image. After all, there can be no data GAU, because no Excel file is inserted. But you can’t format anything anymore. And if you have to enlarge the diagram, it loses quality – like any pixel image.

Adjusting the format is tedious

In my example, someone formatted the chart in Excel using a chart style. It looks “chic” with the transparent data bars and the history in the background. But not in the way you want diagrams to look in your presentation. Adopt target format adjusts the colors, but does not change the diagram template. You have to do this yourself. And as with the tables, the font size is transferred unchanged from Excel.


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