The Top 5 Mistakes to Avoid when Exporting Charts from Excel to PowerPoint & Word

You meticulously crafted the perfect doughnut chart visualization in Excel—distilled data story, elegant design theme, complementary data labels. Now comes the final touch: integrating your chart masterpiece into a Word report or PowerPoint presentation.

Yet that final export step often unravels into disaster. Instead of preserving your chart’s visual potency, the translation turns perfection into a visually underwhelming mess. Your brand colors don’t match, your spacing and font colors are all off or the image that you screenshotted looks blurry. Let’s hope you don’t need to update the data in the chart either or that could create a whole new mess.


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Well, in this post, we’ll discuss the top 5 mistakes when importing charts into Word/PowerPoint and uncover proven techniques to export Excel charts without compromising integrity. You’ll soon effortlessly embed stunning doughnuts across Office documents.

Let’s fix distorted dimensions, maintain color schemes, overcome pixelation and text loss, plus more export headaches! Here we go…

Mistake #1: Exporting Charts Alongside Full Spreadsheets

When exporting Excel charts, it’s tempting to select the chart plus the underlying spreadsheet together before pasting it into Word or PowerPoint. Resist that urge!

Exporting visualizations alongside entire datasheets frequently scrambles formatting. Instead, isolate charts individually first before copying them over.

Recommended process:

  • Select intended chart
  • Click ‘Copy’ command
  • Open destination document (Word or PowerPoint)
  • Paste chart only (without grabbing Excel table)

This streamlined handoff better preserves textual elements and visual formatting. Let’s enhance fidelity further using “Paste Special” next…

Mistake #2: Using Basic Copy-Paste Over “Paste Special”

The paste special function opens advanced options for inserting content between programs, allowing granular control to sidestep issues.

Here’s how to utilize when exporting charts:

  • Copy chart in Excel.
  • In Word/PPT, select Paste > Paste Special.
  • Choose “Picture (Enhanced Metafile)”.
  • Ensure “Paste link” is NOT selected.
  • Click OK.

The enhanced metafile format excels in transferring pictures without distorting images or dimensions. Meanwhile, disabling the paste link prevents inadvertent ties from corrupting back to Excel.

Mistake #3: Exporting Charts Without Proper Sizing

Of all possible export mishaps, distorted dimensions rank among the worst. Thankfully with correct preliminary settings in Excel, you can lock appropriate sizing to remain intact when pasting charts.

Steps include:

  • Select the intended chart so handles appear.
  • Under the Size group, input exact measurements for width/height.
  • Recopy chart using Paste Special method.
  • Verify correct size transfers post-paste.

Programming defined pixel sizes before export reduces randomized distortions. Now let’s tackle pixelation…

Mistake #4: Exporting Without High Image Resolution

You crafted a sleek, elegant chart design—only for that visual delicacy to devolve into a pixelated mess post-export. Screenshots are easy but always turn into low-resolution. For quality preservation, bump up the resolution on output:

  • Click on the chart in Excel.
  • Go to the ‘File’ menu.
  • Choose ‘Save As’.
  • In the dialog box, navigate to the location where you want to save the file.
  • Click on the ‘Save as type’ dropdown menu.
  • Select the desired image format (e.g., PNG, JPEG).
  • Adjust the options for resolution and quality if available.
  • Click ‘Save’.

Save as PNG for lossless images.

Mistake #5: Losing Text Labels During Export

Exporting well also means safely carrying over supporting text elements. Yet labels, values, and titles don’t always transition cleanly. Here’s a post-export checklist:

  • Chart titles: Reposition/reformat if necessary
  • Axis titles: Remove if not transferred over
  • Data labels: Manually add text boxes matching the Excel design
  • Legend: Delete if styling is corrupt. Rely on data labels for distinction

Don’t overlook step #4. Without legends, data labels become crucial for distinguishing data segments. However, with too many options in the legend, it might be worth limiting or just having the data overlay on the chart/graph.

Bonus: Exporting with Formula Links To Excel

Want to retain dynamic links to source data for updates flowing straight through to PowerPoint charts? Utilize object linking instead of images.

In PowerPoint:

  • Select Insert > Object > Create New.
  • Choose ‘Microsoft Excel Chart’.
  • Browse to select the Excel file with the chart.
  • Check the ‘Link to file’ box.

Now, as you alter the connected Excel spreadsheet, changes sync automatically to the chart in PowerPoint, too!

An easier way to manage many charts and links is to use Macabacus

Try Macabacus for free

One Warning: Beware Overdesigning Early Stage

Before exporting charts, first ensure visual hierarchy and messaging appears exactly as desired viewed native inside Excel. Only then commence transferring your doughnut into other programs.

Attempting visual tweaks, post-export introduces more opportunities for miscues per above. So nail design details early before fixing the handoff procedures and you’ll avoid future headaches.

Create Financial Models 10x Faster with Macabacus

Gain access to 100+ shortcuts, formula auditing visualizations, easy Excel-to-PowerPoint linking and productivity tools to help you accelerate financial modeling and presentations.

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