Embedding a Visio diagram in a Microsoft Office document

Applies to
Microsoft Office Visio® 2003
Inside Out Visio 2003 Image This article was excerpted from Microsoft® Office Visio® 2003 Inside Out by Mark H. Walker and Nanette Eaton, Chapter 7, "Using Visio Diagrams with Other Programs." Visit Microsoft Learning to buy this book.

This article is part of a three-part series on using Visio diagrams with other programs.

Part 1: Using Visio diagrams with other Microsoft Office programs

Part 2: Linking a Visio diagram to a Microsoft Office document

Part 3: Embedding a Visio diagram in a Microsoft Office document

In this article

Embedding overview

Embedding an entire Visio diagram


Embedding overview

You can embed Visio shapes or diagrams into Microsoft Office 2003 documents. Embedding has some convenient advantages:

  • Embedded shapes or diagrams are stored in the document in their entirety, but you can edit them using Visio tools without switching to Visio or leaving the document.
  • The embedded document is stored separately from any other Visio diagram, so changes you make won't affect the original diagram file.
  • Because embedded diagrams are stored in the document, they travel with the document, so you can view and print them accurately when you open the document on a computer that doesn't have Visio installed.

The primary disadvantage of embedding is file size. Because all the Visio shape data is stored in the document, its file size can increase dramatically when you embed a Visio image.

You might not be aware that Visio shapes are automatically embedded in an Office document every time you copy from Visio and paste in Office. You can also drag shapes from Visio to a document in Microsoft Office Word 2003, Microsoft Office Excel 2003, Microsoft Office PowerPoint 2003, or other OLE-compliant applications. Just make sure both applications are open and visible and that neither window is maximized, so you can see them both at once. Hold down the CTRL key while you drag the shape you want from the Visio drawing into the other document.

 Note   Dragging shapes from a Visio diagram into a document in another application moves the shapes to the other document and deletes them from the Visio diagram. To drag a copy of the shape, press the CTRL key as you drag. The pointer displays a plus sign to indicate that you are copying the shape, not moving it. If you accidentally move the object and delete it from the Visio diagram, choose Edit, Undo from the Visio menu to recover it.

If you want to ensure that you don't disturb your original Visio diagram, a safer option for embedding shapes and diagrams is to copy and paste them. First select the shapes you want to embed. Then copy the shapes to the Clipboard using your favorite method of copying: press CTRL+C, choose Edit, Copy, or click the Copy button on the Standard toolbar. Next, switch to the document in which you want to embed the shapes (for example, press ALT+TAB to switch between open programs in Windows), and press CTRL+V or choose Edit, Paste. The shapes appear as part of your document. In an Office document or in any other application that supports OLE, the shapes are embedded, so you can edit them from within the document.

 Tip   If you paste shapes into an application that doesn't support OLE, the shapes are pasted as a graphic that you can't edit.

Embedding an entire Visio diagram

You can embed an entire Visio diagram in another document if you use the Copy Drawing command, as Figure 1 shows. If you have a multiple-page Visio diagram, you can copy only one page at a time. You can then embed that page and repeat for each page in the diagram.

Copy Drawing command to embed diagram

Figure 1. To embed an entire diagram, use the Copy Drawing command to copy each page, and then paste in the desired document.

 Tip   Don't worry about losing your layer settings in embedded drawings. In some earlier versions of Visio, when you embedded a Visio drawing that included layers, your layer settings were ignored in the embedded copy. For the most part, this limitation only affected hidden layers, which would unexpectedly appear in the embedded diagram. Fortunately, Microsoft Visio 2002 and Visio 2003 don't include this restriction. Hidden layers remain hidden, even if you embed your diagram.

To embed an entire page of a Visio diagram, follow these steps:

  1. In Visio, display the page you want to copy and embed.
  2. Make sure nothing is selected, and click Copy Drawing Button image on the Standard toolbar or choose Edit, Copy Drawing.

Visio copies everything in the diagram, including shapes on other pages and backgrounds. Stencils aren't copied, nor are other parts of the Visio window that aren't part of your diagram, such as the Pan & Zoom window.

  1. Switch to the document into which you want to embed the diagram.

Tip     Press ALT+TAB to switch between applications.

  1. Place the cursor where you want to insert the diagram, and then press CTRL+V or choose Edit, Paste to paste it into your document.


You receive an error when you edit a linked or embedded diagram    The error message you receive might vary, depending on the application you're using and the problem it encounters. Most likely, though, either the application cannot find the original Visio diagram (in the case of a linked diagram) or your computer can't start Visio. Verify the following:

  • Is Visio installed on the computer you're using?     Make sure that the computer has enough memory to run both applications.
  • If Visio is running, is it displaying a dialog box?     If Visio is awaiting your instructions, it cannot respond to the call made by the other application.
  • Is a copy of the diagram open in Visio?     You can have only one copy of the diagram open at a time.
  • Has a linked file been moved or renamed?     If you're working with a linked diagram, verify the name and location of the original diagram file. If it has been renamed or moved, you can update the link in the document. To do this, choose Edit, Links in the open document containing the link, and then choose Change Source. (The command name may vary in non-Office applications.)

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Applies to:
Visio 2003