Tips and tricks for linking data

Often when you import data to shapes using Visio Professional, the data gets linked automatically to your shapes. However, if you did a custom import, you may need to link the data yourself. The easiest way to link rows to shapes is drag them from the External Data window. However, this is not the only way. The following tips and tricks are also helpful.

Link without dragging

Sometimes dragging a row on top of a shape is too difficult, especially if your shape is crowded amongst other shapes. Also, if you need to link a container shape, the following method is very useful.

  1. Click the Data tab.

  2. Then click the External Data Window check box.

  3. Select the shape.

  4. In the External Data Window, right-click a row of data, and then click Link to Selected Shapes.

Link many rows to many shapes

This approach is best for drawings with many shapes. (Note: In previous versions this was called Automatic Linking.)

  1. On the Data tab, in the Advanced Data Linking group, click Link Data.

  2. Follow the instructions in the Automatic Link wizard.

  3. When you get to the Automatically link row to shape if box, do the following:

    1. In the Data Column list, select the column in your data source that contains unique values for each row.

    2. In the Shape Field list, select Shape text, or select a shape field that you previously created in the diagram.

  4. When you finish the wizard, Visio links the rows and shapes that have matching values.

Create shapes from your rows

This approach is best if your drawing does not already have shapes.

  1. Select a shape in the Shapes window by clicking on it.

  2. Drag a row, or set of rows, from the External Data window onto a blank space in your drawing.

  3. One instance of the selected shape appears for each row that you drag onto the drawing.

  4. Position the shapes as you need to on the page.

  5. Change a shape to another shape by click Home > Change Shape.

More tips for linked data

  • You can link a single row to multiple shapes, but each shape can be linked to only one row.

  • When a row is linked to a shape, a link icon Link icon appears in the External Data window to show that the row is linked to a shape.

  • If a row is linked to a shape, but you can't remember which shape, you can identify it. In the External Data window, right-click the row, click Linked Shapes, and then click the name of the shape. After you do that, the linked shape will be selected, allowing you to identify it.

  • If a shape is linked to a row, but you can't remember which row, you can identify it. Right-click the shape, click Data, and then click Show Linked Row. After you do that, the linked row will be selected in the External Data window.

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