How To Embed a PDF File in an Excel WorksheetTutorial with Screenshots

Written By:
Lisa Borga

There may be a time when you are working that you will need to embed a PDF file in an Excel workbook you are working on.

This could be necessary if, say, you want to create a catalog and would like to embed PDFs concerning the product.

We will show you how to embed a PDF file in a worksheet in this article. Here is how for Windows and Mac.

What Is a PDF?

Before learning how and why you would insert a PDF file into an Excel spreadsheet, it may be helpful to know what exactly a PDF is.

PDF is an abbreviation for Portable Document Format, which is one of the most common file formats for capturing a document, storing it digitally, and securely exchanging it with others.

PDFs can be viewed by users regardless of the operating system, hardware, and software, making it a great choice for sharing documents with the widest possible range of users.

PDFs also require extremely little data compared to other types of documents, making them easier to share with others, and they do not lose quality and consistency like many file formats

This file format is also remarkably secure, allowing users to set editing restrictions permitting others to view but not edit the PDF’s contents.

This makes it particularly useful for sharing documents with a large number of users without the worry of losing data.

Why Insert a PDF in Excel?

PDF files are one of the most popular file types for documents making them incredibly valuable for collaboration.

There are several reasons that Excel users may want to include a PDF in a worksheet, including:

  • Easy Access to Associated Files: PDFs are an extremely common file format for important documents, and if the contents of a given worksheet reference a particular document, it can be extremely convenient to have access to the document directly from the relevant worksheet. A good example of this is if an Excel workbook is being used for bookkeeping purposes, in which case embedding expense documentation in PDF format directly in the worksheet can reduce the number of files and save time figuring out which expenses correspond to which file.
  • Help Keep Track of Important Files: For many organizations keeping track of when data is created and updated is crucial. Embedding PDFs into an Excel workbook with supporting descriptions contained in adjacent cells can help to provide an information trail making it far easier to keep track of data.
  • To Provide Additional Information: In many cases, it may be difficult to include all of the information or images you need in a single spreadsheet. By embedding a PDF instead, you can more easily enclose the large quantity of information or visuals you need without having to access it separately.

How To Embed a PDF File in Excel

Use the following steps to embed a PDF file in an Excel worksheet on a Windows PC.

  1. Start Excel and open the worksheet you will be working on

  1. Go to the “Insert” tab and find the Text Group. Then, click the “Object” icon, which should bring up the dialog box.
  2. In this box, choose the tab “Create New.”
  3. Find “Adobe Acrobat Document” and select it.

  1. Then, choose “Adobe Object” so you can insert it into your worksheet and select the option “Display as Icon,” and click okay.
  2. Now, choose the PDF file you are trying to embed and click on open.

This should embed the PDF file in your worksheet. It will be open, but you can close it and keep working.

This icon is an object and can be resized and placed where you want.

Fixing an Embedded PDF to Cells

By default, when a PDF file is embedded into Excel, it is an object which sits over cells in the worksheet.

If you would prefer the icon to move with cells and be able to filter and sort it with cells, you can fix it to a cell.

In order to stick the embedded PDF to a cell, you can follow these steps.

  1. Insert the icon for the PDF into your chosen cell, and if it doesn’t fit, change the size of either the icon or your chosen cell so that the entire icon is located inside of the cell.
  2. Right-click on the PDF icon, or if you have multiple PDFs, select each and then right-click on the drop-down list and select the “Format Object” option.

  1. This will bring up the “Format Object” dialog box. Navigate to the “Properties” tab and make sure the “Move and size with cells” option is selected.

How To Rename an Embedded PDF File

When a PDF file is embedded in Excel, it will be assigned the default name, “Adobe Acrobat Document.”

If you would like to change this name, then you can follow the below steps.

  1. Right-click on your embedded PDF’s icon, and under “Acrobat Document Object,” choose “Convert.”
  2. This will open the “Convert” dialog box where you will select “Change Icon.”

  1. This will open a new dialog box where you can set a new caption to display for your PDF icon. When you are done, select “Ok.”

Now your PDF will display the name you have chosen.

If you ever choose to alter it again, just repeat the above steps to set a new name.


Microsoft Excel provides a wide range of tools for storing, organizing, and sorting your data.

Among the many features that Excel provides is inserting PDFs directly into Excel worksheets.

By following the steps above, you can easily embed PDFs into your worksheet, fix it to cells, and rename it, making your workbook a more dynamic and effective tool for every application.