How to use linked data types with Excel (preview)

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Getting reliable data into your Excel workbook about various subjects such as cities, foods, animals, constellations, and more, has never been easier. It's as simple as entering text into a cell, and converting it to the appropriate data type. You can view cards to get specific information about your converted data and even extract that info to your Excel workbook.

Just like the Stocks and geography data types, these data types are considered linked data types because they have a connection to an online data source. In this case, Microsoft has partnered with Wolfram Alpha to provide you with rich, interesting facts and data on numerous subject areas that you can work with and refresh—all without ever leaving Excel.

Note: Linked data types from Wolfram Alpha are currently only available to Excel for Microsoft 365 subscribers with the English editing language added to your Office Language Preferences. We are gradually rolling this feature out, so if you would like to use it now, you must be in the Insiders Fast channel.

Convert your data to a linked data type

  1. In an Excel workbook, enter specific identifying text in cells. For example, in a single column, you might enter "apple", "banana", and "pineapple" into different cells.

    Tip: Although it's not required, we recommend creating an Excel table. Later on, this will make extracting online information easier. To create a table, go to Insert > Table.

  2. Select all the cells with the text you want to convert to data types.

  3. With the cells still selected, go to the Data tab, and in the Data Types group, select Automatic.

    Tip: If you already know what data type to use, you can select it from the dropdown gallery. Specifying this can help Excel better match your text and retrieve the correct data. For example, you would select "apple", "banana", and "pineapple" and then select the Food data type.

  4. If Excel finds a match between the text in the cells and the Wolfram Alpha database, it will convert your text to the appropriate data type. You'll know they're converted if you see the data type icon next to the cell value.

    Note: If you see   Question mark icon  instead of the data type icon, then Excel is having a hard time finding a match. You'll need to specify your data. To do this, select the  Question mark icon  to open the Data Selector pane and Use the Data Selector to specify linked data types below.

  5. After you convert text into a linked data type, an icon will appear in the cell. Select it to view the card. The card shows you a list of fields and corresponding values for the information provided by Wolfram Alpha. Scroll through the card and expand sections to see all the field/value pairs that you can work with.

  6. You can easily extract data from data types into your workbook from the card or from the data linked cell using the Insert Data button Add Column button .

    • From the card: Hover over any value and you want to insert and select the Insert Data button  Add Column button .

    • From the cell: Select one or more cells of the same data type to extract data from. The Insert Data button Add Column button  appears. Select it to view the field list, then select a field name to insert the data for the cells you selected.

      Tip: If you're using a table, you can enter field names in the header row.

  7. Whenever you want to get current data for your data types, right-click a cell with the linked data type and select Data Type > Refresh. That will refresh the cell you selected, plus any other cells that have that same data type.

    If you want to refresh all linked data types and all data connections that may be in the workbook (including queries, other data connections, and PivotTables), select Data > Refresh All.

Use the Data Selector to specify linked data types

If the Data Selector pane opens and you see a   Question mark icon  next to your selected cells, Excel needs your help to find the data that matches your cell value.

Notes: 

  • If you don't see any results in the pane, you may want to refine the content in your cells. Use these handy tips to modify your search in the Data Selector pane.

  • If you still can't find what you're looking for, that data type may not be supported yet. See What linked data types are available in Excel? to see what data types are currently available. 

  • Check your spelling and try to use similar terms that are more common.

  • Specify what you're looking for. For example, instead of “honeycrisp”, use “honeycrisp apple”.

  1. In the Data Selector pane, review the results. You may see different results from different data types. For example, "apple" as the food data type refers to the apples we can eat, but as a plant data type, it refers to the tree.

  2. Select the result that matches your data. Once you select a result, the Data Selector will switch to the next result that needs identifying.

  3. When all your cell values are linked to their appropriate data types, the Data Selector will disappear and you can now view cards and insert data.

More about linked data types

Linked data types FAQ and tips

What linked data types are available in Excel? 

Discover more from Wolfram|Alpha

How to write formulas that reference data types

Excel data types: Stocks and geography

Give feedback about data types

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