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Tables in PowerPoint: Creation, Styles, and Formatting

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  • 0:02 Importing Tables
  • 1:58 How to Import a Spreadsheet
  • 4:37 Creating a Table from Scratch
  • 5:53 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Karen Sorensen

Karen has a Bachelors in Communications. She has 25 years of experience in Information Systems, Adult Learning and Virtual Training.

Ever wondered how to pull a spreadsheet into a PowerPoint slide, or how to create a table? This lesson will discuss the answers to both of these questions.

Importing Tables

PowerPoint allows you to create slides using text, images, sounds, video and other media objects. But for most of us, the primary purpose of PowerPoint is to create visual aids to support speeches and presentations. Today, PowerPoint is used for more than presentations to large audiences or in seminars and training events. It has become common to use PowerPoint in small business meetings, project meetings and even to display detailed financial information in quarterly business reviews with shareholders.

Let me share a story. Many years ago, I was creating a PowerPoint presentation for the CFO (or Chief Financial Officer). There were ten slides, of which six were spreadsheet information he had created in Excel. He wanted everything accessible from PowerPoint in one presentation. Of course, the CFO was known for making changes up until the last minute. Every time I would capture the image of the spreadsheet for the slide, he would change it, and it was a nightmare!

Normally, you insert content, such as an image. The image remains unchanged, even if you were to open the image in a photo editing software and change the image. The source file, or the original image, does not change until you replace it with another image or version of that image.

Today, tables, such as Excel spreadsheets, are not necessarily inserted but imported. You are actually pulling the information into your slide. The spreadsheet or table is considered external data. You can also create a link to the external data; this way, if changes are made to the source file (or original spreadsheet), the table information being displayed on the slide will change as well. I sure could have used this while I was developing the presentation for my CFO!

How to Import a Spreadsheet

When importing external data or adding a link to a file, like an Excel spreadsheet, you have three options. First, you could import the table, as is, and display the content; or, you could import the table as a link, but still display the content; and, finally, you can import the table as a link and create an icon on the slide that takes you to the content (only the icon is displayed on the slide).

In the lesson video, I will show you how this works. Imagine this is my presentation for the CFO, and we will import a spreadsheet to three different slides using the three options mentioned above. The first option is to simply add the table to the slide, so let's take a look at the steps:

  1. Start by clicking on the Insert Tab.
  2. And then in the Text grouping of commands, in the ribbon, click on the Object icon (it's in the lower, right-hand corner of the box).
  3. Then select Create from file and click on Browse.
  4. Search for and select the file you want to add to the slide.
  5. And then click OK.
  6. PowerPoint will return you to the Insert Object dialogue box, and at that point, you just click OK and you're done.

PowerPoint will import your spreadsheet information and display it as a table on your slide. You will be able to edit the image, but that does not change the original Excel file.

Okay, so to import tables using the second and third option, you will follow the same process until you get to step 6. After you return to the Insert Object dialogue box in step 6, and before you click OK, you will need to check one or two additional options, depending on how you want your spreadsheet to appear on the slide.

So, for option two (import the table as a link but still display the content), you would check the box next to the word Link - that would insert the spreadsheet as a linked object; and then for option three (to add an icon), you would check the box next to Display as icon. This would create a linked spreadsheet and it would create an icon on your slide. If you want the spreadsheet to automatically appear in your presentation, leave that box unchecked.

I prefer to import table information from software such as Excel and create an icon. It makes for a cleaner slide, and I can add additional content to the slide with details about the data the audience is about to see. You will find what works best for you.

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