Excel Tip: Mail Merge to PowerPoint via Word Outline

A reader asked how to convert an Excel workbook into a PowerPoint presentation where the first column was a title page and the next two columns were the subtitles.

This sounded to me like a Mail Merge problem, and indeed Word proved a bridge to getting this done. This is a circuitous solution but avoids using any VBA code.

The above video is a walk-through of the below steps.

Download the exercise file here.

Select file to merge

In this lesson it will be the above exercise file.

Put a copy of this file on your Desktop or somewhere else accessible.

Then open a new Word document (no need to save this one) and set up a new Mail Merge by selecting Mailings from the home ribbon.

Under Select Recipients, there is an option to “Use an Existing List.” Select this option and navigate to your “exercise.xlsx” workbook. This workbook does contain headers, so you can leave that option checked on.

Insert fields to merge

This essentially loaded the workbook data into the Word doc. We will now tell Word where to insert these fields into our mail merge. We will do that by navigating to “Insert Merge Field,” also on the Mailings tab, and clicking on each of our three fields.

Apply Header styles to merge fields

For our finished product, we want the first field, Name, to be the header, and the other two fields to be sub-headings. So we will use Word’s Heading Styles menu to set this up:

Finally… we are ready to merge.

Head to “Check for Errors” on the Mailings tab and select the last option, “Complete the merge without pausing. Report errors in a new document.”

You will get a Word document with each page reporting each row of the Excel workbook.

Save the Word document.

Note – if you are having trouble with the next step, try saving the document as an RTF file and then loading to PowerPoint. 

To PowerPoint!

Ok, now we will go to PowerPoint. Under “New Slide” on the Home tab, one of the very last options says “Slides from Outline.” Well, hey! We made an outline in Word! So go ahead and select that file, wherever you saved it. Make sure that file is closed, or PowerPoint will return an error.

BOOM! We’ve got a mail-merged PowerPoint slideshow, and we didn’t need any coding.

I hope this helped!

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