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How to export Excel to Word

Posted by on 30th September 2017


Why Export Excel to Word

There is a close relation between Microsoft Word and Excel. They go hand in hand. Microsoft Excel is a great program for data analysis, data manipulation and storing data. It can even function as small database. On the other hand, Microsoft Word is a great tool for presenting data.

Almost every business user at some point in time would have copied data from excel to word document. As long as it's a small amount of data and is a one-off job, manual cut-and-paste is not a pain. But once you have large data to copy repetitively, it's not worth doing it manually. There is a risk of human error and wastes a vast amount of time and cost.

There are well-developed tools and techniques for automating Excel to Word data export. In following sections, I am going to narrate three popular approaches and pros & cons of each of them.


Mail Merge

Microsoft Word Mail Merge Wizard is the most popular approach and many Microsoft office users aware of this. The term mail merge is misleading. Though you can produce letters for mass mailing purposes, you can also use it to create documents and save them into a local directory or directly send to printer/fax.


Pros

• You find lots of online help available on popular blogs and forums. Just Google Mail merge, you find loads of tutorials that explain how to go about using Mail merge wizard.

• Since it works from your Microsoft office, it’s for free


Cons

  • • The biggest complaint against mail merge is while populating data into word document, it changes the format of numbers and dates in Excel
  • • The recent versions don't support suppression of empty rows. So one has to look for add-ons or code samples to achieve this
  • • Merging images is very complex
  • • Mail merge by default produces one document for each row. If you are looking for the dynamic population of more than one Excel row into Word tables, then you have look for alternatives. Moreover, mail merge can't handle more than one dynamic table in Word document
  • • Field names in word document must be listed in the same order as the corresponding information in the Data Excel. Preparation of Excel with merge fields become cumbersome if you have Excel file with large number of columns
  • • Only suitable for simple word templates with small excel data. Excel data has to be aligned horizontally in tabular form. If you are looking to populate a nice report template with bullets, conclusions and other written text, with pre-formatted numbers from excel then mail merge wizard is not the right choice

There are few tools and techniques available that extend the functionality of mail merge wizard but those are band-aid solutions and only solve these problems to a certain extent.


VBA, Word Macros

That brings us to the second most popular technique – VBA and Word Macros. MS Office exposes its API for scripting. Developers use this API to write word macros using VBA - Visual Basic for Applications or write separate script files in Jscript.


Pros

• These are tremendously powerful technologies for extending the power of MS Office applications. These tools offer great flexibility to deal with different Excel formats and complex word documents.

They address limitations of mail merge wizard

• If you are a developer, you find lots of online help and code samples


Cons

• Often, they are not compatible with different versions of Office suite thus limiting its utility beyond the organization. May require modifications, every time you upgrade office version

• Developers have to manually program for each variable field in the word document. Hence this is extremely time-consuming and costly if you have large document templates. Imagine your organization uses 15 templates for HR, Finance, and Legal. Separate VBA code has to be written for each of those dynamic fields in every document

• VBA is also used for creating malware and viruses. That's the reason office has a massive security problem if you use macros. Hence many organizations have strict policies around usage of add-ins and macros

• Organization templates undergo changes every now and then. This necessitates changes in VBA code every time and it incurs huge maintenance costs

As you can see, this is not enterprise solution and is merely for getting things done. There is no reusability of code, limits sharing of documents and require continuous maintenance support.


Document Generation Software

That brings us to our best approach for export Excel to Word- Document generation Software. These are web apps available in SAAS model. They are elegant enterprise applications for document generation across the organization. They also can be exposed to the outside of the organization to customers, suppliers, and partners.


Pros

• Addresses all the limitations of above two approaches

• These are DIY and have intuitive interface with very small learning curve

• Offer APIs to integrate with other systems in the organization. Taking advantage of the integration, you can automate export of excel to word to generate documents without manual intervention


Cons

• They don’t offer the same flexibility as that of a VBA particularly with excel formats

• These are commercial tools and you have to pay small monthly fees


Export Excel to Word using EDocGen

EDocGen is the NextGen document generation software for online mail merge. It offers the simplest and fastest way to export excel to word. It also one of the very few online software to support many to one mail merge for performing the merge of multiple rows into one Microsoft Word document.

Let's take the following sample document. It has text fields and a table. Please note the merge field tags in the document. {} is text field tag and {#} is table tag.

Document for export excel to word

For one-to-one merge, EDocGen creates one document for each row/column (EDocGen supports both vertical and horizontal merges). The format of Excel data would look like this. Notice the nested table format for populating word table in above sample document. The excel should have the corresponding dynamic field tag name in the first row (first column in case of the vertical merge).

Excel for export excel to word
Conclusion

In summary, to export Excel to Word

• If your document is simple and only have small horizontally oriented tabular excel dataset then mail merge is your best bet

• If your document is complex and your excel data is horizontally/vertically oriented then document generation software makes lot of sense

• If your document is complex and your excel data has no specific orientation excel then VBA is for you.



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