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Sharing Information Among Documents

Object linking and embedding (OLE) is a familiar innovation in personal computing. OLE lets you insert an object created in one program into a document created in another program. Terms that you’ll find useful in understanding how you can share objects among documents include:

Embedding and Linking



Source program

The program that created the original object

Source file object

The file that contains the original

Destination program

The program that created the document into which you are inserting the object

Destination file

The file into which you are inserting the object

For example, if you place an Excel chart in your PowerPoint presentation, Excel is the source program and PowerPoint is the destination program. The chart is the source file; the presentation is the destination file. There are three ways to share information in Windows programs: pasting, embedding, and linking.


You can cut or copy an object from one document and then paste it into another using the Cut, Copy, and Paste commands on the source and destination program ribbons.


When you embed an object, you place a copy of the object in the destination file, and when you activate the object, the tools from the in which it was created (the source program) become available in your presentation. For example, if you insert and then click an Excel chart in your PowerPoint presentation, the Excel ribbon replaces the PowerPoint ribbon, so you can edit the chart if necessary. With embedding, any changes you make to the chart in the presentation do not affect the original file.


When you link an object, you insert a representation of the object itself into the destination file. The tools of the source program are available, and when you use them to edit the object you’ve inserted, you are actually editing the source file. Moreover, any changes you make to the source file are reflected in the destination file. You can edit the linked object from either file, although changes are stored in the source file. For example, you might link an Excel chart to a Word document and a PowerPoint slide so you can update the chart from any of the files. If you break the link between a linked object and its source file, the object becomes embedded.

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