Repair a Broken Link Between Word and Excel

Broken Link Between Word and Excel

Creating a Paste Link between a Word document and an Excel workbook allows the Word document to instantly and automatically share any updates made to the Excel workbook. This is a powerful feature for the owner of the two files. However, should these two files be relocated or renamed after the Paste Link has been created, the link must be reestablished or updated?

Note: Paste Links seem to occur most frequently with Word and Excel and that is why they are used as examples in this article. Links can be performed between other software in a similar fashion to that described in this article.

How the Link is Broken

A link is commonly broken in one of two ways.

  • One or both files are renamed.
  • One or both files are moved.

A file might be renamed:

  • When files are emailed. The recipient may decide to give the files a name that is more meaningful to him.
  • The creator of the files may change the name without thinking about the consequences.

Files might be moved:

  • To a common access area of a network after they have been created.
  • If the files are emailed and the recipient places the files in two or more different directories.

Chances are very good that the files will not only be moved but also renamed which can cause even more confusion for the Paste Linking process.

How to Recognize a Broken Link

If a link is broken the user will know when they load the destination file—usually a Word document.

  • When the Word document is loading a dialog box appears stating the file is linked and would they like the link to continue.
  • When she clicks the YES button, a second box will appear informing her the linked (Excel) file cannot be found.
    Continuing to open the file breaks the link and it must be reestablished.

How to Update (Reestablish) a Broken Link

All is not lost if a link is broken. As long as both files are still intact and somewhere in the system, the link can be updated.

  1. Open the Word document.
  2. Access the Prepare Command. In Word 2007 click on the Office Button (big four-color button in the upper left corner) and float cursor over Prepare. In pre-Word 2007 click on Edit.
  3. Select “Edit Links to Files” in Word 2007 or “Links…” in pre-Word 2007.
  4. A dialog box shows up displaying the links to the Excel file/s.
  5. Click on a file to select it.
  6. Click on Change Source.
  7. Use the Change Source dialog box that appears to select the renamed or moved file.
  8. Click Open.
  9. The link has now been re-established. Perform this operation for every link that has been broken.

If files are frequently linked and sent via email or transferred to USB devices, affected staff members should be trained in this procedure.

Sending linked files to other recipients outside of the company or who may not be familiar with the procedure could present a problem. It is probably best to simply send the Word file with the links removed. This can be done with the Prepare/Edit Links. One of the button boxes on the right will say, “Break Link.”

The Paste Link and Prepare/Edit Links commands are indeed powerful tools. Knowing how to perform the update (repair) function can save hours of frustration and extra work.


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