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Accessing Excel through a PDF File

Moira has a Word document that contains embedded Excel worksheets. When the Word file is saved in PDF format, the user is no longer able to access the Excel worksheets; Excel will not open. Moira wonders if this is normal and if there is a way the user can still access the Excel worksheets.

Yes, this behavior is normal, but it can be modified depending on how you create the PDF file. PDF files are meant to be—for the most part—static, not dynamic. You can, however, create PDF files that do incorporate some types of dynamic behavior, such as the ability to fill in forms and, within bounds, embed information that can be changed.

In order to take advantage of these advanced features, you must have a copy of Adobe's top-of-the-line version of Acrobat. The built-in printer drivers (such as those that create PDF files by "printing" from Word) won't allow you to utilize the advanced features.

One possible way around the problem (at least partially) is to include in the Word document a hyperlink to where the Excel workbook is located on the Web. PDF files rather routinely include hyperlinks, and the hyperlink to your Excel file would be no exception. The reader of your PDF file could then access the workbook through the hyperlink, but any changes made to the workbook would not be reflected in the PDF file.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (6468) applies to Microsoft Word 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003.

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