How to Embed a PDF in Excel.

Excel spreadsheets are a vital tool for many workplaces. It may be necessary to reference another document in your spreadsheet, for example if you need to attach an invoice when making a list of incoming or outgoing funds. For cases like this, you may need to learn how to insert a PDF in Excel.

Discover how to embed PDF in Excel with our handy guide.

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What you’ll learn.

Quick list: how to embed a PDF in Excel.

To insert PDF link into Excel, follow these simple steps: 

    1. Open your files. Open up the Excel spreadsheet that you want to place the link into and select Insert > Object.

    2. Add your PDF.
    Click Create > Browse to locate the PDF you want to insert.

    3. Check the display.
    Before clicking OK, check the boxes that says Link to file and Display as icon. Now right click on the PDF icon and select Format Object.

    4. Embed your PDF.
    From this pop-up window, click Properties, then Move and size within cells.

In detail: embedding a PDF in Excel step by step.

Now we’ll take a look at each step in detail. While the above list outlines the basics of how to embed PDF in Excel, there are a few other options you can add on during this process.

1. Before you embed PDF in Excel, you need to ensure the PDF you will be adding is closed. Once it is closed, open up the Excel document that you want to add the PDF to.

2. To bring up the window where we select the PDF, navigate to Insert > Object in the top menu on the Excel document. 

3. Once the pop-up window displays, navigate to the Create from file tab. Click the Browse button and find the PDF that you want to embed.

4. The PDF will display as an entire page in your spreadsheet. If this is what you’re looking to do – you’re done. If you will want the PDF to display as an icon that can be opened from your spreadsheet, read on.

5. To insert PDF link into Excel, tick the box in the same pop-up window that says Display as Icon. This will create a small PDF icon that you can simply click on to open, rather than displaying the whole PDF. This is a good option if you need to insert a couple of PDF documents into your spreadsheet.

6. Next to this option, there is also a tick box that says Link to file. It is a good idea to also tick this box as if you make changes to the original PDF document, this will ensure the linked file also updates too.

7. You can select both the Link to PDF and Display as icon options simultaneously. Alternatively, if you don’t need the document to update, just select Display as Icon.


8. It’s possible to limit the icon to just one cell. This could be particularly important if you have a list of items or actions that the PDF icon needs to align to.


9. In this case, right click the icon and click the Format object option. Go to the Properties tab and select Move and size with cells under object properties. 

10. While you are in this pop-up window, consider whether you want to change the alt text that appears below your icon, change the size of the icon or even the colour. If you do want to edit these features, use the relevant tabs in the pop-up window to do so.

11. Once done, select OK on the bottom right.


Benefits of inserting a PDF into Excel.

There are several benefits to being able to embed PDF in Excel.

  • Convenience. If the information in your spreadsheet links to a particular resource in a PDF format, it could be easier to embed PDF in Excel to save the viewer from needing to search for the relevant file. For example, if sending a bookkeeping Excel document to an accountant, it could be beneficial to attach multiple PDF invoices to your spreadsheet to save time and reduce the number of files you need to send over.
  • To keep track of files. Need to keep track of the date certain information was created? Many organisations need to keep an audit trail of when data was stored and updated. This can be done by embedding a PDF into Excel, then noting down the necessary information in the adjacent cells.
  • To include more information. Sometimes there may not be enough room in the spreadsheet to include all the information you need. Or there may also be images you want to include. By learning to embed PDF in Excel, you can easily include more info or visuals directly in your spreadsheet, which prevents the user from having to exit it and locate another document.



These are some frequently asked questions about inserting PDF files into Excel.

I got an error message when trying to insert PDF into Excel. What can I do?

If you receive an error message when trying to insert PDF into Excel, it could be that the PDF settings are preventing it from being able to be embedded. This is an Adobe Reader feature that is designed to protect the integrity of the PDF.

Can others open the PDF that I embedded in Excel?

If you have followed the above steps, then the PDF will become part of the package of the saved Excel file. This means that others will be able to open the PDF document too. If you went to Insert > Object > Package, then this won’t be the case.

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Get more out of Acrobat with our tips and guides with these related resources.

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