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Guidelines: Using Excel and PowerPoint Together

Learn about the best practices for working together with Excel and PowerPoint.


Product/Version: All versions of PowerPoint
OS: Windows and Mac

If any two programs were meant to work together in the Microsoft Office suite, they have to be Excel and PowerPoint. Almost everyone who works with Excel has to use PowerPoint to present data and charts to an audience, or even create their business reports in PowerPoint. On the other hand, all PowerPoint charts are essentially created by Excel, even if many of you may not be aware of this fact.

You can benefit so much if you know how to work with both these programs together, but even before you start, there are a few guidelines that will help you not hit a road block. Most of this actually boils down to just one guideline, and that is:

Create a new folder that will contain all the PowerPoint and Excel files that you will work with as part of a project, especially if you want them to link to each other.

Yes, that's true -- you need to stop thinking of your presentation as an Excel or a PowerPoint file and start thinking about it as a folder instead. There are many advantages in doing so:

  • Since all your linked files are within one folder, you know they all belong to the same project.

  • If you need to work on another computer, you can just copy the entire folder and all links will continue to work on that computer as well.

  • The folder structures and paths differ on Windows and Mac computers -- if linked files are on the same folder, no path information is saved. This makes your links work across Windows and Mac computers.

  • If you need to send a folder via email, you can just zip the entire folder and send it across. On the other computer, unzipping will recreate that same folder.

Single folder should contain all the PowerPoint and Excel files that you work with
Figure 1: Single folder should contain all the PowerPoint and Excel files that you work with

Other than creating folders, here's a best practice tip that will help you stay organized. Always name your folders logically. You may have your own way of naming folders but we always use this nomenclature:

YYYY MM MMM DD - Project Name

This translates to:

2014 02 Feb 14 - Cash Flow Predictions

2014 04 Apr 22 - Survey Results

This nomenclature helps because it is "sort-friendly" on both Windows and Mac computers – and yes, the month does show up twice to make it easy to be sorted.

PowerPoint Keyboard Shortcuts and Sequences:
PowerPoint 2016, 2013, 2011, 2010, 2007 and 2003 for Windows
PowerPoint 2016 and 2011 for Mac
PowerPoint Online for Windows and Mac

Have your ever used keyboard shortcuts and sequences in PowerPoint? Or are you a complete keyboard aficionado? Do you want to learn about some new shortcuts? Or do you want to know if your favorite keyboard shortcuts are documented?

Go and get a copy of our PowerPoint Keyboard Shortcuts and Sequences ebook.

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