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What is a broken link chart in PowerPoint (and how to fix it)?

Finding a broken link chart in PowerPoint is the worst. That’s because it means you cannot edit the underlying data, until you fix the broken link.

A broken link chart is a linked PowerPoint chart that is no longer referencing the Excel file used for its data source.

You will know you have a broken link chart when you right-click your chart in PowerPoint, select Edit Data, and receive the following error message.

Broken link chart error message

It is common for people to accidentally link thier Excel charts to PowerPoint, creating this broken link effect, simply because they do not understand how their Excel charts get linked to PowerPoint.

To expand your knowledge and learn how to link an Excel chart to PowerPoint (which is easier than you think), read my guide here.

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A broken link chart in PowerPoint occurs whenever the external Excel spreadsheet that was used to create the PowerPoint chart, is either renamed and/or moved to a different location on your computer.

Renaming and moving the linked Excel file creates the broken link chart in PowerPoint.

If you are working with a team using linked charts, this means that every time you send your colleague your PowerPoint deck, you will also need to send them the linked Excel file.

Once they receive the files, they will need to reestablish the link between PowerPoint and Excel before they can edit the data.

To fix a broken link chart in PowerPoint, you simply need to reestablish the link between the PowerPoint deck, and the external Excel spreadsheet. This means you need to have access to the Excel spreadsheet on your computer to re-create the link.

Click File, then Info then Edit Links to Files to re-establish the link between PowerPoint and Excel

To re-establish the link beween PowerPoint and Excel to fix your brokne link chart, simply:

  1. Click the File tab in PowerPoint
  2. Select the Info category
  3. Scroll down and select Edit Links to Files

Inside the Link dialog box, simply select Change Source and navigate to wherever the renamed or moved Excel file is.

Once you have reestablished the link on your computer, your linked charts will automatically update. On top of that, if you now select Edit Data inside of PowerPoint, you will receive the linked data notification at the top of the Excel spreadsheet, letting you know that you are dealing with a linked chart.

To see if a chart is linked, right-click your chart, select edit data, and then look at the top of the Excel spreadsheet that opens.


Now you know what a broken link chart in PowerPoint is, and how to fix it.

This is something you will need to coach up your clients and colleagues on, as they wont’ know how to fix their broken linked charts.

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