PPT: Excel Charts Embed in Black and White

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If you embed a chart or spreadsheet object from version 3.0 or 4.0 of Microsoft Excel into a PowerPoint presentation, it may be displayed in black and white, rather than in color. This problem occurs if the default printer driver for the PowerPoint presentation does not support color.

NOTE: This problem may also occur when embedding objects from Microsoft Project for Windows.


This behavior is not caused by PowerPoint. When Excel acts as an OLE source application, it chooses to either include or not include color with the display information it sends to the destination application. Excel makes this decision based on the specified printer driver's color support.

NOTE: This behavior also occurs in version 2.0 of PowerPoint for Windows; however, it occurs less frequently than in PowerPoint 3.0 because the default target driver supplied with PowerPoint 2.0 supports color. In PowerPoint 3.0, no special target driver is specified; your default Windows driver remains active.


There are four methods for bringing Excel charts into PowerPoint 3.0 with the color information intact. These methods are described below.

NOTE: Except for the second method, these methods also work with PowerPoint 2.0.

Method 1

Temporarily change the target printer for PowerPoint to a printer that supports color before you embed the Excel chart; after you embed the chart, reset the original printer driver. To do this, use the following steps:
  1. From the File menu in PowerPoint, choose Printer Setup.
  2. Select a printer driver such as the HP PaintJet, HP DeskJet 500c, Genigraphics, or a color PostScript printer driver.
  3. Embed a chart from Excel (refer to steps 1-5 under Method 3).
  4. From the File menu, choose Printer Setup.
  5. Select the original printer driver.
NOTE: If this object is edited when the presentation is set up for a black-and-white printer, the colors will disappear after you complete the editing session.

Method 2

Link, rather than embed, the Excel file to PowerPoint with the following steps:
  1. Start Excel. Create a chart or open an existing chart.
  2. From the Chart menu, choose Select Chart. From the Edit menu, choose Copy.
  3. Switch to PowerPoint.
  4. From the Edit menu, choose Paste Special.
  5. Under Data Type, select Microsoft Excel Chart Object, then choose the Paste Link button.
NOTE: This process creates a linked object, rather than an embedded one. Therefore, if you transport the PowerPoint file to a different machine, the Excel chart file must also be transported. If it is not, the object will not be editable.

Method 3

Disable the ability to strip the color information from the Microsoft Excel chart object by setting custom colors with the following steps:
  1. From the Edit menu in PowerPoint, choose Insert, then choose Object from the submenu.
  2. Under Object type, select Microsoft Excel Chart, and choose the OK button. (Excel will be opened, and a blank chart window titled "Chart in Presentation" [or something similar] will be displayed.)
  3. Open an existing chart file, an existing worksheet file, or create a new worksheet.
  4. From the Chart menu, choose Select Chart (or highlight a range of cells if you are in a worksheet). From the Edit menu, choose Copy.
  5. Switch to the "Chart in Presentation" window. From the Edit menu, choose Paste.
  6. Double-click a colored element of the chart to open the Patterns dialog box. Under Area, select the Custom option button. Repeat this process for each element in the chart that has a different color.
  7. After you have selected the Custom option button for all the colors, return to PowerPoint by closing the "Chart in Presentation" window.
The chart will now be displayed in color in PowerPoint. The colors will be retained, even if the chart is edited. However, if a new data series is added to the chart, the colors will not be retained. Although this method is time consuming, it is the best method to achieve and maintain a colored chart in PowerPoint.

Method 4

Select the chart in Excel, and copy it into PowerPoint as a picture. To do this, use the following steps:
  1. Start Excel. Open a pre-existing chart, or create a new chart.
  2. From the Chart menu, choose Select Chart.
  3. Hold down the SHIFT key and choose Edit from the menu bar. The Edit menu should now include the Copy Picture command; choose Copy Picture.
  4. Under Appearance in the Copy Picture dialog box, select the Appearance As Shown On Screen option button. Under Size, select the Size As Shown On Screen option button.
  5. Switch to PowerPoint. From the Edit menu, choose Paste.
An image of the chart will be displayed in color. This is the fastest way to bring an Excel chart into PowerPoint; however, this object is now a graphic and cannot be edited.


Article ID: 85993 - Last Review: November 16, 2006 - Revision: 2.2
  • Microsoft PowerPoint 95 Standard Edition
  • Microsoft PowerPoint 2.0 Standard Edition
  • Microsoft PowerPoint 3.0 Standard Edition
  • Microsoft PowerPoint 4.0 Standard Edition
  • Microsoft PowerPoint 4.0a
  • Microsoft PowerPoint 4.0c
  • Microsoft Excel 3.0 Standard Edition
  • Microsoft Excel 4.0 Standard Edition
kbinterop kbprb KB85993
Retired KB Content Disclaimer
This article was written about products for which Microsoft no longer offers support. Therefore, this article is offered "as is" and will no longer be updated.

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