Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Office 365. 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: Unlinking an Excel Chart Automatically.

Unlinking an Excel Chart Automatically

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated October 5, 2019)

Glenn asked if there was a way to have an Excel chart automatically "unlink" itself. He has a template that has a linked Excel chart in it. When he creates a new document based on the template, he wants the chart to update (which it does), but then unlink itself so that it doesn't update again when the document is later opened.

The best way to handle this is with a macro, but a few "ground rules" need to be set first. The Word template must have the Excel chart inserted using Paste Special, as an inline shape (don't have the chart floating on the drawing layer). Also, you should use Edit | Links to set the link update for the chart to Manual.

Now, add the following macro to the ThisDocument module for the template:

Private Sub Document_New()
    Dim ilshp As InlineShape

    Application.DisplayAlerts = False
    ' cycle through all inline shapes
    For Each ilshp In ActiveDocument.InlineShapes
        ' ignore error if inline shape has no link
        On Error Resume Next
        With ilshp.LinkFormat
            .Update  ' update link
            .BreakLink ' break link
        End With

        ' reset error
        On Error GoTo 0
    Next
    Application.DisplayAlerts = True
End Sub

When a new document is created from the template, the user is asked to enable macros (they should enable them). The macro isn't copied into the new document; it stays only in the template. What the macro does is to update any inline shapes that have external links and then break the links.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (8182) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Office 365. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Unlinking an Excel Chart Automatically.

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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