Creating, updating, locking and unlocking links

Automatic update of the embedded and linked objects is extremely powerful feature of Microsoft Word, but it could be boring for a large document. Locking a link prevents the object from being updated by the original application file, such as an Excel spreadsheet file.

You can create a link while working in Word or while working in another application. You have already seen several ways to embed objects:

  • On the Insert tab, in the Text group, choose the Object:
    Text group in Word 2016
    In the list choose the Object to open the Object dialog box.
    • Choose the Create New tab:
    Create New tab in Word 2016
    • Or choose the Create From File tab:
    Create From File tab in Word 2016
  • On the Home tab, in the Clipboard group, click the Paste:
    Clipboard in Word 2016
    In the list choose Paste Special...:
    Paste Special in Word 2016
  • Drag-and-Drop

The difference is that you must click the Link to File check box or the Paste Link option button, or you select Link Here from the drag-and-drop pop-up menu.

Word can update links in two ways, automatically and manually:

  • With automatic links, Word updates the links whenever you open the destination file and whenever the source information changes while the Word document is open.

    To specify how links are updated, follow these steps:
       1.    Choose Linked Worksheet Object -> Links... in the popup menu to display the Links dialog box:
    popup menu in Word 2016
       2.    The Links dialog box lists all of the links in the active Word document. Select one or more. To select multiple links, click once on the first link, press Ctrl, and then click once on each of the other links that you want to edit. If you have several links and want to select them all, click once on the top link, press Shift, and then click once on the last link in the list.
    Links in Word 2016
       3.    Choose Automatic for automatic links, or choose Manual for manual links. You can specify different options for different links.

  • With manual links, Word updates the links only when you decide to update them.
    There are two methods to update links manually. The simplest is to position the cursor somewhere in the linked object and then press F9. The other is to choose Linked Worksheet Object -> Links....

    Using Linked Worksheet Object -> Links... may be quicker, however, if you have several links in your document because this method enables you to see a list of all links. On the other hand, you can also press Ctrl+A to select everything in your document and then press F9. (Unfortunately, Ctrl+A doesn't select links inside headers, footers, and comments, although it's rare that linked objects are placed in these areas.) This updates all fields in your document, not just linked objects.

The default setting is to update all links automatically when the information in the source file changes, but you can specify either method for any link.

You can lock and unlock a link in the Links dialog box. However, you can also lock a link by selecting a link and pressing Ctrl+F11; unlock the link by pressing Ctrl+Shift+F11.

Rather than locking a link, why not set the link to Manual and then just don't update it-to ensure that you don't accidentally manually update it. If, for instance, you press Ctrl+A to select the entire document and then press F9 to update the table of contents, index, and cross-references, you are also updating unlocked manual links.