Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016. If you are using an earlier version (Word 2003 or earlier), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for earlier versions of Word, click here: Breaking a Document Link.

Breaking a Document Link

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated August 4, 2018)


At some point in working with a document you may determine that an existing document link is no longer necessary. You can break a link between your document and another application by following these steps if you are using Word 2010 or a later version:

  1. Click the File tab of the ribbon.
  2. Make sure that Info is selected at the left side of the screen.
  3. At the bottom-right side of the screen, under the Related Documents category, click Edit Links to Files. (If this option is not available, it means that Word doesn't think there are any links in the current document.) Word displays the Links dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  4. Figure 1. The Links dialog box.

  5. Select the link you want to break.
  6. Click on Break Link. You are asked to confirm your action.
  7. Click on OK.

The steps are a bit different if you are using Word 2007:

  1. Click the Office button and then click Prepare.
  2. Click Edit Links to Files. (If this option is not available, it means that Word doesn't think there are any links in the current document.) Word displays the Links dialog box.
  3. Select the link you want to break.
  4. Click on Break Link. You are asked to confirm your action.
  5. Click on OK.

Word breaks the link between your document and the source application, but the information remains in your document.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (6010) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Breaking a Document Link.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...


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What is 9 + 9?

2018-01-08 17:53:17


Thanks. !

2017-10-10 08:24:40


Thanks, that's what I was looking for! Every time someone opened my word document, they were getting several Excel error windows due to missing files. Updating the document (F9) was also removing the links in some of my charts. Breaking the links solved both issues!

2017-07-13 17:28:31


It saved me a lot of time, thanks!

2017-02-09 08:17:16


Great article. Helps me much! Thank you.

2017-01-27 14:07:54

Alonso Santamaria

I have tried to break image links using this method and it simply does not do it.

On the other hand, I'd rather links did not exist in the first place. Because of my needs, embedded images, and embedded ONLY, is the best option.

Is there a way to tell Word to avoid those links altogether? As if this linking facility did not exist at all.

Sometimes the improvements get to be more a problem than a solution if no control over the functions is available.


2017-01-19 10:08:12


I have a border around text. It seems to be linked to the top of the page (small green circle). But, I need to add a blank line above the border. It won't let me. I tried deleting, adding lines, and re-adding the border but is still tied to the top of the page. How to fix? Thanks!

2016-11-04 08:54:17

Bo Johanson

Made my day!
Well, at least the morning.

2016-08-18 01:58:42

Amit SL

Nice.. to the point tutorial :)worked perfectly..thanks a lot..

2016-07-27 08:59:22


This was a perfect walk-thru ...thank you! worked great!

2016-07-13 10:55:43

Mark S

Hi Allen,

Yes, I've used this method before. In my Word document, I have linked Visio files. However, when I do "Break Link", it makes the Visio diagram into a Word "Picture" and is no longer editable as a Visio file. How can I "break the link" but keep it as Visio within the document? Basically, what I want to do is select all my Visio diagrams (which point to local network locations) and "break the link" so that all the Visio files get sucked into my Word document. Then I can send the Word document to my downstream customer (who does not have access to my local network) and the document will be completely editable.

2016-07-13 07:39:09


I hope this thread is still active.

I am using Word 2016 and when I save the picture in the document the picture actually disappears from the document!

I have successfully used this method many times in the past.

2016-07-08 07:33:47


Any Macro to delete these image links

2015-05-20 04:24:24


Hi Graham,

Thanks for that breaking-link hotkey, has proved immeasurably helpful in my creation of a Macro to sidestep a Word/Excel bug, whereby you have to fiddle with breaking links when copying and pasting charts into Word tables...otherwise it tends to print an EMPTY chart.

So thanks again, that hotkey was necessary...

2014-03-07 11:22:19

Graham Fewell

For linked graphics, a simple method of breaking a link is to highlight the linked graphic, then press Ctrl+Shift+F9.

By the bye, in past versions of Word (2003 and before) I sometimes had trouble deleting graphics that were linked but not embedded. I found that if a graphic wasn't currently displayed when I broke its link, the graphic would disappear completely. I haven't experienced this problem with Word 2010, so perhaps the bug has been fixed.

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