Copying a Chart and Related Shapes to a Word Document

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated May 10, 2014)


Leslie prepares charts in Excel, adding shapes from the drawing tools. He would like to copy the charts to a Word document, but only some of the shapes are copied. He wonders why some of the shapes get left uncopied and how he can "flatten" the chart so that everything is copied.

Let's assume for a moment that your chart is inserted in your worksheet, as an object. In this case, the behavior you describe is actually normal. You see, shapes can be associated with either your chart or with your worksheet. If they are associated with the chart, then when you copy the chart to the Word document, the shapes associated with the chart are also copied. If they are associated with the worksheet, then they are not automatically copied with the chart.

Excel associates a shape with either the chart or the worksheet depending on what was selected when you chose to insert the shape. If the chart was selected just prior to inserting the shape, then it will be associated with the chart. If a cell in the worksheet was selected, then the inserted shape is associated with the worksheet—even if you later move the shape to be over the top of the chart.

In order to copy the chart and all the shapes, you have two options. First, you could select a shape that won't copy, press Ctrl+X to cut it to the Clipboard, click once on the chart to select it, and then press Ctrl+V to paste it. The shape is now associated with the chart. You can repeat this for each misbehaving shape, and subsequently copying the chart to the Word document should copy all the desired shapes, as well.

The second option is to leave all your shapes where they are and simply group them together. Click once on one of the shapes to select it, then hold down the Ctrl key as you click on each of the other shapes, in turn. With the Ctrl key still pressed, click on the chart, as well. Now right-click on one of the selected shapes and, from the resulting Context menu, choose Group | Group. You can then copy the entire group (the chart and all the shapes) to the Word document.

The approaches discussed so far allow the chart and shapes to still be treated as objects when they are copied into your Word document. If, instead, you want to insert a picture of the chart and shapes (i.e., to "flatten" the image, as you noted), then you have a few options.

First, you could use the Snipping tool which is included in Windows (either Vista or Windows 7). It allows you to grab a portion of the screen as a picture in the Clipboard. You can then paste it into Word very easily. Second, you could use some of the grabbing tools provided in Word. With your document open, display the Insert tab of the ribbon. You can then use the Screenshot tool (in the Illustrations group) to insert an entire screenshot of the Excel worksheet or you can use the Screen Clipping option to insert just a portion of the screen.

Finally, you could also use a third-party screen-shot grabber, such as SnagIt from Techsmith. These stand-alone tools provide great capabilities to grab all or part of a screen and either save it to disk or copy it directly to a document.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (9988) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, and 2013.

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 1 + 5?

2016-01-22 12:17:31


This tip answered my question precisely and solved an annoying problem. Thanks!

2015-03-19 10:06:14


I find this problem to be intermittent. Even within the same Excel session, it will sometimes copy all objects, sometimes copy only the main graph object. Frustrating!

It is as if either it is a machine resource issue, or a matter of having the exact right thing selected, or a matter of the sequence of actions just before the copy. If any single object is selected, it will be copied, alone.

2014-05-12 12:29:36


Another option to copy a "flat" image rather than a linked spreadsheet is under Home-Copy and then using the dropdown, Copy-as-picture. If you do this routinely, this method can manually programmed into a macro (but not via record-a-macro)and given a shortcut key.
Sub Capture_select_as_pictures()
Selection.CopyPicture Appearance:=xlScreen, Format:=xlPicture
Beep 'confirmation feedback
End Sub

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