PowerPoint offers a few ways to auto update content across your slides. For example, you can write a report from a mid-field data export and then auto update that report with the final data to speed up reporting turnaround and ensure data accuracy. Auto update in PowerPoint can be done through Excel, Macros, and other programs that help streamline the design process.

Before we look at the PowerPoint features (and external software) that can auto update, bear in mind the following: auto update doesn’t necessarily mean complete automation, but it can certainly improve the efficiency and accuracy of your way of working. Also, external software is limited by PowerPoint’s ability to listen to other programs and operate specific functions.

Furthermore, if you need to export data into an intermediary file, like Excel – it’ll be a multi-step process. It’s better to go directly into PowerPoint as single-step processes are faster, more robust, and less likely to encounter technical issues due to third-party programs.

Auto Update PowerPoint Charts and Tables

It’s also important to understand the difference between charts and tables in PowerPoint. Updating tables tends to impact on the design while chart updating does not. Unlike charts, tables don’t have a hidden spreadsheet supports the data, which means the information in a table is basically text.

Whenever setting up a table to export to external analysis software, you must ensure the table’s data (including numbers and column labels) are set exactly as you want it before opening in PowerPoint. Whereas charts allow you to hide specific elements (such as rows or columns) and change how the chart references hidden data as well.

When you click on a chart within PowerPoint, you have the option to ‘Edit Data’ through the hidden spreadsheet that sits behind the chart. PowerPoint uses the data from the spreadsheet to generate a chart on your slide. Ensure your that analysis software inserts data into this hidden spreadsheet. If a program can’t do this, the only option to get a chart into PowerPoint is via an inflexible, static image.

When you right click on a chart in PowerPoint, you’ll see the option to ‘Save as template’, which saves the design of your chart including fonts, colours, and included/excluded design elements. You can even use the same design and apply it to other charts in PowerPoint through the ‘Change Chart Type’ button in the ‘Design’ ribbon. PowerPoint will save your template as an external Chart Template (.crtx) file, which can ten be used by certain programs to build intelligent charts that auto update.

Auto Update PowerPoint Slide Master

We’ve previously looked at how convenient PowerPoint’s slide master can be for creating templates and setting specific design elements across an entire presentation. Slide master (found in ‘View’ of the top menu) allows you to set the layout, font, title box size, and colour across your slides. It also means you can set heading and body text that will remain consistent across slides and any exported tables or charts.

Since external programs will paste information into a table as text, any amendments you made manually to text or numbers may get overridden in the auto update process. This is primarily because PowerPoint does not have a function for laying formatting over a table – only charts, since they have a separate design file (.crtx) while tables don’t. You can change a chart’s data without influencing its design (and vice versa), but this won’t work for tables.

External Programs for Auto Updating

There are numerous software programs that can automatically update content in PowerPoint. Whether you’re looking for PowerPoint add-ins that can provide greater functionality and simplify the way you work, or looking for data updating and analysis programs – you have a host of options available.

SPSS Statistics can export charts and tables into PowerPoint as static images, while its Data Collection product can generate tables and charts within PowerPoint.

Exporting data from SPSS Statistics to PowerPoint offers a few options. The first options to set are the layers in pivot tables. Some pivot tables have more than two dimensions, and the other dimensions are presented as multiple display layers. By setting this option, you can include or exclude layers in the PowerPoint slides, which is useful if you’re using a multilayered table.

A pivot table can have multiple headings and footnotes, which you can choose to include or exclude. You can also choose to use the outline headings as slide titles in your output.

Some results are presented as graphic models, but the view that appears onscreen isn’t the only one you can use. You have the option of including all views in the output or showing only the view that is currently visible.

Your output will include only charts, graphs, and pivot tables; the rest of your data is ignored and doesn’t appear anywhere in the set of produced slides. If you need some text slides before or after your graphics, you’ll have to add those manually.

Displayr allows you to build your entire report online. You can construct, design, and arrange all design elements (including tables, charts, visualisations, advanced analysis models) directly on the Displayr page, which corresponds visually to a PowerPoint slide. When you publish the Displayr report to an offline PowerPoint file, the slides contain all the elements just as you had arranged them online. Charts and visualisations can be exported as images or as editable PowerPoint charts.

It is also possible to update an Existing PowerPoint document with the revised data, whilst keeping all the work done in PowerPoint intact. Displayr will update charts, tables as well as text boxes.

Need help transforming your data in engaging graphics? Check out our free Ultimate Guide to Data Visualisation to get the information and tips you need to turn facts and figures into compelling content.