Embedding a PDF in an Excel Worksheet

The strangest thing happens after embedding a PDF in Excel. But don’t worry, there is an easy way to make sure recipients of your worksheet get bot...
Bill JelenNovember 16, 2011

Reader Tony L. wins a copy of Learn Excel 2007-2010 from MrExcel for his question: “I need to embed a PDF file in an Excel spreadsheet and send it to several coworkers. I want them to be able to open the PDF by clicking on it.”

Amazingly, Excel supports embedding PDF files in a worksheet, although it is not obvious to the worksheet recipient that he can open the PDF file.

Embedding the PDF File
Select a cell where you want the corner of the PDF to appear. On the Insert tab of the ribbon, look on the right side for a picture of a cactus and the word Object. Select Insert Object. From the dialog, choose Adobe Acrobat Document, as shown in Figure 1.

Drive Business Strategy and Growth

Drive Business Strategy and Growth

Learn how NetSuite Financial Management allows you to quickly and easily model what-if scenarios and generate reports.

Fig. 1

Browse to the PDF file and click Open. Then a very strange thing happens: the document opens in Acrobat Reader. This makes no sense. Simply close the document. You will now be back in Excel, and the first page of the PDF file will appear in your spreadsheet (see Figure 2).

Fig. 2

It is not obvious to people reading the worksheet that they can open the PDF to see additional pages, so make sure to add a note in a cell above the top of the PDF (as shown in Figure 3) to tell users  they can double-click to open the PDF file.

Fig. 3

You can now send the Excel workbook to your recipient list. They will have full access to both the Excel data and the PDF file.

Bill Jelen is the author of 33 books about Microsoft Excel. Send questions for future articles by using the link in the byline of this article or writing directly to [email protected]. If Bill uses your question in one of his columns, you’ll receive a book as a thank-you.