Link EXCEL To Photoshop

Or How To Make Microsoft Excel &
Adobe Photoshop Elements
Work Together

Yep, for this blast of creativity, I feel I deserve the title of superhero.  It really isn’t as hard as one thinks, you just have to figure out the “catch”.  So how does one go about making any two software programs work together?  Do it by finding the lowest common denominator – just like math in school. In other words, find the file format that is common in both programs.  For example, to make Excel and an Accounting ERP system work together, the file format in common is a .txt file.  Export an Accounting ERP system query or report as a .txt file and import it into Excel. This is the same principle for Photoshop and Excel. The common file format is a .pdf file.  I know this works for Excel 2007 – Excel 2010, but I don’t know if the .pdf file format option is available in earlier versions.  If you have info on this, please post in the ‘comments’ section immediately after this article.  Aside from the .pdf creation being native to earlier versions of Excel you can create .pdf output from any program with a littlr thing called Primo PDF.  Look for info on it in our Software Section,  now back to the article.  Briefly, save your file as a .pdf in Excel and import the .pdf into Photoshop onto its own layer.

Ok, ok. So why in the world would someone want to do this?  It allows full flexibility for the presentation of financial data and easier creation of annual financial reports.

  • Instead of struggling with some accountant’s printed report and retyping the numbers in Photoshop, the data has already been prepared electronically in Excel for import. If the accountant changes any numbers in the Excel spreadsheet, they need only to resave the .pdf file and resubmit it to the marketing/graphic design department. This also reduces typo errors.
  • Instead of struggling with creating a background in Excel, complete with insertion of graphics that may come out fuzzy, watermarks, company logo, etc, a background can easily be created in Photoshop.  Using Photoshop allows the background to be changed easily at any time and with much more flexibility.
  • Financial reports with exciting new graphics can be created each time for an ultra professional slide show presentation or printed reports. If you are fortunate enough to own the full fledged version of Photoshop, 3D graphics are now available.  C’mon, there’s got to be allowance for business people to have at least a little fun in their routine jobs.

Photoshop Elements is only around $100, so why not give it a try? Click Here to download the free trial. There are even free Photoshop “clones” like a program called “The Gimp” available. To get a copy of it Click Here.

Here is a basic, broad strokes summary in a step by step format for how I got my process to work:

  1. Gather all the data you need into Excel to create a master summary pivot table which will support the point of your slide.  For example: Shipping expenses for each month during the last six months.
  2. In the same spreadsheet as the summary pivot table, create a graph or chart.
  3. With the background color in mind, make sure the font color, boldness, and other properties are set for the final product. (I don’t worry about the graph bars.  They can be changed if necessary in Photoshop.
  4. Turn the gridlines in the spreadsheet OFF. On the main menu in Excel 2007, click View, then go to the show/hide panel and click the checkmark for gridlines off.
  5. Save the spreadsheet as a .pdf.
  6. Open Photoshop, then open the .pdf file.  Make sure this layer is the topmost layer in the Photoshop file.
  7. Create a background for the financial data.  Include a report name, report period. Position the company name and logo wherever one desires.  Make sure the background is on the group of layers below the Excel data.
  8. Save for output.  If the final output is a slide for Power Point, save the file as .jpeg 11”x8.5” landscape format at a resolution of 72 dpi.  If the final output is for print, then the resolution of the .jpeg has to be 150 – 180 dpi on some nice paper that is suitable for inkjet printers. It has to be something heavier than 20lb weight so the wet ink won’t make the paper curl.
  9. Done.    Here’s how mine turned out:
Sample EXCEL Integration

Sample EXCEL Integration

By the way, this is a fictitious company with fictitious data.  Optional: Make the pivot table on a spreadsheet by itself AND make the graph in Excel on a separate spreadsheet by itself. Print out the graph and submit it to the graphic designer along with the .pdf containing the pivot table.  This gives a designer the option of creating a nicer 3D graph in Photoshop (if there is time for it).

I hope you enjoyed the inside scoop for my latest creation, a financial report created with both Excel and Photoshop.

Deborah Ramos

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One Response to “Link EXCEL To Photoshop”

  1. I typically have had an idea rattling around in my head for a few days. That idea is something that I have a strong desire to write about. These make it easier for me to process internally before putting the subject to paper. I still know the frustration of how to begin.

    The best way to clear your mind is not to fight it – just clear it! Jot down stuff that comes to you and keep it in an ideas bin for later. If it’s really important, you can dig it out later and work with it. This frees you to focus on what you want to.

    The “old school” way is just to brainstorm, putting your thoughts on paper, without organizing anything. Do that for a day or two.
    Next is to organize your ideas pile a bit to see what topics seem most important and how they might relate.
    Third is a combination of actions. Create an outline or order of steps while studying more about the subject. If I write a “how to” article, then I actually do the craft for myself in real life a few times first before I try to teach another about it.
    Fourth is to fill in the details. A person is actually writing the article at this point.
    Fifth is to polish it up. Make sure there are no missing steps, no additional important data, no typos and no grammar trouble.
    Done. Ta-da!

    Hope this helps….

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