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    Copy Excel charts into Illustrator?

    Community Member
      Hi All-

      I NEED to get charts that I have created in Excel (Microsoft Excel 2008 for MAC, Version 12.1.1) into Adobe Illustrator (CS2, 12.0.1).

      I have hundreds of charts to do this with, so remaking all of the charts in Illustrator isn't really feasible. In addition, I must include error bars which I don't think Illustrator is able to do.

      I also need high resolution images (which I why was told I have to use Illustrator in the first place) that are publication quality.

      PLEASE HELP - I have been spending hours trying to find a way to do this and have been unsuccessful.

      Thanks everyone,
      jenn
        • 1. Re: Copy Excel charts into Illustrator?
          try67 ACP/MVPs
          Why do you need to have Excel charts in Illustrator? And when you say "high resolution images", do you mean photos? In that case, Illustrator is not what you should use to edit them.
          I think you need to better define your workflow in order for anyone to be able to help you out.
          • 2. Re: Copy Excel charts into Illustrator?
            Community Member
            The figures will eventually be published in a scientific journal. Apparently a lot of the journals need figures prepared in Illustrator. I have a large number of column charts (with error bars) that were prepared in Excel. In previous versions of both Excel and Illustrator, I was able to copy and paste the graph into Illustrator - where I then could ungroup the graph and work with formatting issues (fonts, size, colors, etc.). I can no longer do this.

            I also do have a number of images/photos which are also supposed to be prepared in Illustrator. These I am not having a problem with. I am able to open the image in Illustrator, add labels and change constrast (if need be) just fine.

            I guess I don't have a clear reason why these need to be in Illustrator, other than that is what I was told and what our group has always done in the past.
            • 3. Re: Copy Excel charts into Illustrator?
              Community Member
              The progress I have made is saving the chart in Excel as a .pdf

              Then opening the .pdf in Illustrator seems ok. I am able to change fonts and edit colors. However, I am still having trouble ungrouping the graph and moving columns (for ex. moving all columns closer together or farther apart). What happens is the inside of the column moves but the outside trace stays behind.

              I'm still trying to find an easier way to work with this. Maybe Illustrator isn't the best program to use, but unfortunately I don't have much of a choice.
              • 4. Re: Copy Excel charts into Illustrator?
                Kurt Gold Community Member
                Jenn,

                when converting those Excel charts to .pdf, usually a whole bunch of unnecessary clipping masks are included. That seems to explain your trouble.

                To solve it, in Illustrator go to Select > Object > Clipping Masks. Delete that selection, then do a (multiple) ungroup.
                • 5. Re: Copy Excel charts into Illustrator?
                  Community Member
                  I copy and paste scientific charts and graphs from Excel into Illustrator with no problem. Do you have your File Handling & Clipboard Preferences set to PDF? Yes, there are still extraneous clipping masks and weird groups, but I make sure the chart is formatted correctly in Excel so I don't have to do anything except resize it in Illustrator.
                  • 6. Re: Copy Excel charts into Illustrator?
                    Community Member
                    This workaround doesn't work for me at all. Upon opening the pdf in Illustrator I get a message ("An unknown shading type was encountered"). Then it opens, but all the info in the legend looks like this: !"#$%$$$&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&'()&

                    Any other suggestions?
                    • 7. Re: Copy Excel charts into Illustrator?
                      w_rijnen Community Member
                      If it's needed to be made in illustrator, is that because of the export feature? To make it an .eps-file? That can also be done in indesign, and i believe that clears out a lot of trouble...
                      And even with a tool from Woodwing (plug-in) that can make upon styles you can easily asign to those hundreds of charts...
                      How about them apples!

                      It can't be that important for the journal in which app their content is made?
                      • 8. Re: Copy Excel charts into Illustrator?
                        rcraighead MVP
                        On the Mac, in Excel, select the chart, then Shift-click the Edit menu and choose "Copy Picture". An options dialog will appear, try the default options. Then go to AI and paste. The chart will come in as a vector graphic.
                        • 9. Re: Copy Excel charts into Illustrator?
                          joziG Community Member
                          I am busy trying what Ray Craighead has suggested. The graph simply does not paste into Illy not matter which option is selected.

                          What might I do wrong?

                          OSX 10.5.6 Illy CS3 13.0.2 Excel mac 2008

                          Any help would be appreciated.
                          • 10. Re: Copy Excel charts into Illustrator?
                            rcraighead MVP
                            Are you seeing the "Copy Picture" option in the Edit menu (by "Shift-clicking" the Edit menu)? Any "Copy Picture" options will work. Then go to Illustrator and paste into a document. You get a vector chart. <br /> <br />OSX 10.4.11, AICS3, Excel 2004. <br /> <br /> <a href="http://www.pixentral.com/show.php?picture=17OzH2CssKaGhkN9RteCDuw4e12mE2" /></a> <img alt="Picture hosted by Pixentral" src="http://www.pixentral.com/hosted/17OzH2CssKaGhkN9RteCDuw4e12mE2_thumb.png" border="0" />
                            • 11. Re: Copy Excel charts into Illustrator?
                              rcraighead MVP
                              Here's a little movie that demonstrates the steps.
                              http://www.vimeo.com/2838751
                              • 12. Re: Copy Excel charts into Illustrator?
                                rcraighead MVP
                                FWIW This movie has text caption.
                                http://www.vimeo.com/2838964
                                • 13. Re: Copy Excel charts into Illustrator?
                                  joziG Community Member
                                  Hi Ray

                                  Thanks so much for the trouble taken.

                                  I see in another thread the problem seems to be with Excel 2008!

                                  Topic: Excel 2008 > Illustrator CS3 possible?

                                  Wonder if there is any "cure", or if I have to reinstall Excel 2004?
                                  • 14. Re: Copy Excel charts into Illustrator?
                                    rcraighead MVP
                                    I guess there are some advantages to being the last to upgrade. :)

                                    Have you tried printing the chart to PDF? I'm guessing it would be vector and could be opened in AI. Of course, that would be too easy.
                                    • 15. Re: Copy Excel charts into Illustrator?
                                      joziG Community Member
                                      Hey, saving to PDF works like a charm!

                                      Fantastic!

                                      Thank you so much.

                                      Gerd
                                      • 16. Re: Copy Excel charts into Illustrator?
                                        Community Member
                                        Whether you get the Excel chart into Illustrator via copy/paste or PDF, I think you may face the same problems Jenn mentions. Depending on how the chart was created in Excel, there may be too many data points - the horizontal or vertical axis may have a line of text for every point, and they all overlap - you may be able to select them all and change the point size to something small enough to distinguish; or rotate each instance of type 90 degrees (move them to a new layer and ungroup first, then Object > Transform Each).

                                        Sometimes each bar has a fill and a stroke; when brought into Illustrator they are separate objects. I generally select one of the stroke objects and Select > Same Fill and Stroke, and delete them, leaving only the filled bars.

                                        I find it helpful to move all the useful data - for example, all the bars of one color, bars of another color, horizontal lines, x-axis, y-axis, and so on - onto separate layers. Much easier to work with when you can selectively lock, hide, and transform.
                                        • 17. Re: Copy Excel charts into Illustrator?
                                          rcraighead MVP
                                          I agree. I sure didn't claim it was clean. Sometimes it's easier to just do a screen-capture and trace it in AI.
                                          • 18. Re: Copy Excel charts into Illustrator?
                                            Community Member
                                            Also, don't forget Illustrator's Graph tool. If the data in your Excel sheet is numbers (no dollar signs or % signs), you can select a range of rows and columns, copy, and paste directly into the data sheet of Illustrator's Graphing feature.
                                            • 19. Re: Copy Excel charts into Illustrator?
                                              joziG Community Member
                                              That is true, Gary, but I find Illustrator's graph tool incredibly limited and cumbersome.

                                              I wish it weren't!
                                              • 20. Re: Copy Excel charts into Illustrator?
                                                Wade S Zimmerman Community Member
                                                >but I find Illustrator's graph tool incredibly limited and cumbersome.

                                                >I wish it weren't!

                                                I think we all do!
                                                • 21. Re: Copy Excel charts into Illustrator?
                                                  Community Member
                                                  Thanks for the suggestion to use <Shift+Click> Edit to copy the Excel graph in Vector format, but I seem to be getting the same problem as Adam above. <br /><br />This is what I do:<br />* Select graph in Excel (2008 for Mac, V.12.1.5)<br />* Shift+Click on Edit in menubar, select Copy Picture<br />* In Copy Picture pop-up menu, select following appearance: "As shown on screen" (default), not "As shown when printed".<br />* Paste in Adobe Illustrator (CS2 for Mac, V.12.0.1). Pop-up window says: "The document contains PDF objects that have been reinterpreted: An unknown shading type was encountered"<br />* Resulting vector drawing contains messed-up text like: %2#456#, none of the text is displayed as in Excel.<br /><br />Does anyone have a solution for this? Other than retyping all the text...<br /><br />Thanks<br />Bram v.S.
                                                  • 22. Re: Copy Excel charts into Illustrator?
                                                    Community Member
                                                    Oh yes, and I am using Mac OS X 10.5.5
                                                    • 23. Re: Copy Excel charts into Illustrator?
                                                      rcraighead MVP
                                                      I understand this is a MS Office 2008 issue. It work MS Office 2004. I understand the workaround is to print to PDF and open the PDF in AI.

                                                      (I don't have MS Office 2008, so I can't verify this).
                                                      • 24. Re: Copy Excel charts into Illustrator?
                                                        Larry G. Schneider MVP
                                                        Sorry, forgot to include specs.
                                                        • 25. Re: Copy Excel charts into Illustrator?
                                                          Larry G. Schneider MVP
                                                          I think you are right, Ray. I have not been able to copy/paste any info from late version MS Excel into AICS3. It still works for AICS2/Office 04. OSX.5.6, AICS3
                                                          • 26. Re: Copy Excel charts into Illustrator?
                                                            Community Member
                                                            Thanks for the replies!

                                                            I tried Ray's solution above, and it only works if you don't want to edit the image afterward, not if you want to be able to modify the actual vector image in AI.

                                                            Printed the graph, and saved as pdf. Imported into AI. This works for the pdf image. But after clicking "embed image" a pop-up window appears again: "The document contains PDF objects that have been reinterpreted: An unknown shading type was encountered". Again, all text changes to unreadable /(&(#32&+ type stuff as the image changes to vector format.

                                                            Guess I should have held on to Office 2004...
                                                            • 27. Re: Copy Excel charts into Illustrator?
                                                              Community Member

                                                              I have discovered, with much frustration, that one cannot copy (as a picture) an Excel (Mac 2008) chart into Illustrator CS3. As folks have experienced, one sees only a blank page in AI. However, one can copy and paste a chart made in the 2004 version of Excel; and it's completely editable, even if onerous in the case of, say, diagonal x-axis labels. I recently upgraded to CS4. Now one can copy a 2008 Excel chart, but only the curves and gridlines paste correctly into AI; the text labels for both axes come out gobbledygook. I don't know if the problem here lies with Adobe or Microsoft.

                                                              • 28. Re: Copy Excel charts into Illustrator?
                                                                Kirstena01 Community Member

                                                                I'm rather frustrated.  I've been on the microsoft boards.  The guy there thought the problem was fixed - he said that it was a bug that appeared early on with the software and required adjustments from both sides.  I updated both office 2008 and Adobe cs3 suite to the most recent versions and it worked for a few days and now it's broken again.

                                                                 

                                                                I can't copy from PPT or Excel into Illustrator.  I can copy photos out of PPT into Photoshop now, which is an improvement, although there is often some sort of vertical banding which appears once it's in photoshop.  I'm not sure what's going on there.

                                                                 

                                                                I've tried repairing permissions and restarting.  (something the office guy suggested)

                                                                 

                                                                It's very frustrating.  I've had to request to keep office 2004 just so I can maintain production.  The PDF export option just is not practical, there's too much editing that needs to be done once it's in Illustrator.

                                                                 

                                                                I work with scientists and often need to pull graphs from excel out and format them for journal submission, they also like to put stuff in powerpoint because they are more comfortable with that application than trying to overcome the learning curve to Illustrator.  Since most Journals don't accept ppt files, those figures also need to be prepared for submission in Illustrator.

                                                                 

                                                                My Mac OS is 10.5.6

                                                                Illustrator is 13.0.2

                                                                PPT is 12.1.7

                                                                 

                                                                Most of the files I work with are not native to office 2008 or if they were, have been saved to be compatible with office 2004

                                                                • 29. Re: Copy Excel charts into Illustrator?
                                                                  Community Member

                                                                  I just tried after I got your email. I copied a 2008 Excel graph (shift

                                                                  +copy picture in edit menu) and was able to paste it into a new AI 

                                                                  file. First time I've been able, so I gather some folks at Microsoft, 

                                                                  Adobe, or both got their act together.

                                                                   

                                                                  Now, why was I able to do this and you can't? I don't know the answer, 

                                                                  but I feel your pain, as it were.

                                                                   

                                                                  I'm using the latest versions of both software. And I've got Mac OS 

                                                                  10.5.7.

                                                                   

                                                                  Dave

                                                                  • 30. Re: Copy Excel charts into Illustrator?
                                                                    Larry G. Schneider MVP

                                                                    The problem seems to be AICS3. I can copy and paste into AICS4 but it doesn't work with AICS3. OSX.5.7, Office/Excel 2008 but not an .xlsx file.

                                                                    • 31. Re: Copy Excel charts into Illustrator?
                                                                      Kirstena01 Community Member

                                                                      Well.  Upgrading to CS4 isn't an option for me right now.  I can ask about it, but I don't have control over when our company adopts new software and with all the budget cuts, I'll be surprised if it happens soon.

                                                                       

                                                                      Our other artist has the same set up I do, except she was just upgraded to office 2008 and has the same issue.  Our Tech's have asked us not to upgrade to 10.5.7 yet, but if that will fix it, I'll talk to them and give it a try if they'll let me.

                                                                       

                                                                      Otherwise I guess I'll stop beating my head against a brick wall and just keep using office 2004 to transfer graphics over that I need for figures.

                                                                       

                                                                      the tech on the microsoft boards seems genuinely baffled also, but does seem interested in figuring out the issue.

                                                                      • 32. Re: Copy Excel charts into Illustrator?
                                                                        SciDot_ai Community Member

                                                                        Mac OSX 10.5.7  CS4  Excel 2004 / but Excel-to-.ai worked with older configurations, too.

                                                                         

                                                                        My work involves scientific journal illustrations, some of which come from Excel graphs. Once I have the graphs in Illustrator, I 'clean them up' -- as was mentioned on the Forum: Excel comes in with lots of repeated lines and icky rotated text blocks.

                                                                         

                                                                        I understand a problem might exist with MS versions, etc. -- so --

                                                                        I don't know if these little tricks will help your situation, or not, but this is what works for me.

                                                                         

                                                                        I Open a blank RGB Illustrator page and shift it over to the right on the monitor.

                                                                        Then I Open the Excel file with the graph and shift it over to left on the monitor -- so I can see both pages, I select the Excel graph by clicking on it once, making sure that I have the outermost 'Excel selection handles (black squares) selected, then I verrry sloooowwly move the Excel graph over to the Illustrator page with my mouse. You DO need some patience on this step: it needs to be done slowly and when you get to the Illustrator page you must (still) hold the mouse there for a while, until it copies over. The more 'lines' in the Excel graph, of course, the longer it takes. approx. 10 seconds, or so, for lots of data.

                                                                         

                                                                        Once over in Illustrator, I discard all the extra lines and 'retype' any Excel-rotated text. Excel seems to put rotated text in a bit-map piece -- with the real (unrotated) text included nearby as a copy. I find the good copy (a few steps) and redo it so it 'reads correctly,' and toss the 'icky-bitmap/pixelated-rotated-text-block' that came from Excel.

                                                                         

                                                                        I was so frustrated when some Excel graphs just would not 'move over' to my blank Illustrator page. Excel graphs are given to me from a variety of clients: some would copy, some would not. I finally discovered the problem -- and -- it starts with Excel. The Excel-to-Illustrator step would fail IF patterns were used in the Excel graphs. Once I changed any/all Excel-pattern-fills to shades of gray one-by-one (or color, probably ? [not tested by me yet]), I could then move graphs over to Illustrator just fine. Other 'Excel properties' may cause copy-failure also, perhaps? Just look around at the graph in Excel: even a pattern in a key/legend may be the culprit that causes failure in the transfer/move.

                                                                         

                                                                        SciDot

                                                                         

                                                                        • 33. Re: Copy Excel charts into Illustrator?
                                                                          Kirstena01 Community Member

                                                                          Thanks for the suggestions scidot.  Office 2004 isn't an issue though.  It works just fine, so that's what I'm going to have to keep using to prepare stuff for publication.

                                                                           

                                                                          I've had some of the same issues you've mentioned with office 2004.  I've had to go in and remove textured fills, gradient fills, change line weights to the smallest option so that they actually paste in as lines, not filled objects.  I've even had to paste a graph into ppt, ungroup it there and make a few more adjustments, then copy it from there into illustrator.  At least they go into AICS3 though.

                                                                           

                                                                          Oh, the techs here let me upgrade to OSX 10.5.7 and that didn't make a difference.

                                                                           

                                                                          Cybertaz on the office boards says he's stumped, he can't replicate my problem, it works fine for him.  I don't understand why it works for some and not others.  I swear it briefly worked for me last week after initially updating adobe suite, but now I feel like I must have imagined it.

                                                                           

                                                                          I can check the clipboard in the finder and I know it's actually being copied, it just won't go into AICS3.

                                                                          • 34. Re: Copy Excel charts into Illustrator?
                                                                            Kirstena01 Community Member

                                                                            Well.  I stumbled on an odd work-around for my copy/paste issue.

                                                                             

                                                                            open an AICS3 file or create a new one.

                                                                             

                                                                            put an object on the page, then drag that object to the desktop to create a .pictclipping file.

                                                                             

                                                                            After I do this, I can copy and paste to AICS3 all I want and it goes in just fine.  It doesn't like the default new office fonts, gradient fills or shadows, but it comes over as vector.

                                                                             

                                                                            The gradient fills and shadows paste in as raster objects.  I just define a plain fill and get rid of the shadow  before I copy.  Change the font to Arial or something and it comes in fine also.

                                                                             

                                                                            Maybe this will help anyone else having this issue.

                                                                             

                                                                            I have to do this after every restart, but quitting AI doesn't seem to affect the temporary fix.

                                                                            • 35. Re: Copy Excel charts into Illustrator?
                                                                              pb11 Community Member

                                                                              have Office 2008 and Illustrator CS4 (and Photoshop CS4 etc) all up to date on an up to date Mac Pro, can copy an Excel chart to Illustrator via .pdf and it comes through with multiple errors (as noted above) and the lines and text are not editable objects

                                                                               

                                                                              the .pdf goes into Photoshop fine but does so as a rasterized object which is useless for my purposes (need to edit chart for publication)

                                                                              • 36. Re: Copy Excel charts into Illustrator?
                                                                                SciDot_ai Community Member

                                                                                Hello All,

                                                                                 

                                                                                Yes, I recently moved to Office 2008 and Illustrator CS4 and that changed the way I get Excel graphs into Illustrator.

                                                                                Now with Office 2008 and Illustrator CS4 I just select the graph in Excel and Copy,

                                                                                then do a simple Paste into Illustrator CS4. Office 2008 text and lines seem to be in better 'shape' after they 'land' in Illustrator CS4.

                                                                                The charts still need tweaking and cleaning, but overall they are less cumbersome than previous (earlier vers.) copied or 'dragged over' graphs/charts.

                                                                                Mac OS X 10.5.7

                                                                                 

                                                                                Dot

                                                                                • 37. Re: Copy Excel charts into Illustrator?
                                                                                  bjest Community Member

                                                                                  I've got Illustrator CS4 and Excel 2008 and also have been experiencing problems with copying and pasting charts into illustrator from excel.  All the text tends to appear as random characters.

                                                                                   

                                                                                  This appears to be an issue with the font.  The default font for the newest version of excel is Calibri.  If you change everything to something else, like Arial, you can paste your charts in without issue.  Even though Calibri exists in the illustrator font library, it seems to have trouble properly interpreting this.  It's easy enough to then go in and change the font in illustrator back to whatever you want.  Many other fonts in addition to Arial paste just fine, but Calibri definitely doesn't.

                                                                                  • 38. Re: Copy Excel charts into Illustrator?
                                                                                    Kirstena01 Community Member

                                                                                    It's a "known issue" for cs3 that the new office 08 fonts are not compatible with adobe.  That includes calibri, the default font, and a few others.  I can only assume that the issue is present in cs4 also, from the sound of it.

                                                                                    • 39. Re: Copy Excel charts into Illustrator?
                                                                                      Jim Lange Community Member

                                                                                      Here are a few tricks I use to increase likelihood of success from Excel 2004 to CS3; perhaps they'll also help in later versions:

                                                                                      1. Because Illustrator likes PostScript fonts, convert all fonts used in the Excel chart to the closest PostScript equivalent. This usually results in text that imports accurately into Illustrator and is editable.
                                                                                      2. If you are getting color banding, it's probably because the Excel chart—internally rendered at 96 dpi—needs to be larger before exporting. Just for laughs, double or triple the page size and expand the chart to fit the entire page. You may have to view the resulting Excel screen at 25% or 50%.
                                                                                      3. In Excel's Page Setup, set Print Quality to 300 dpi or better.
                                                                                      4. In Excel's Print window, click on PDF and choose Save PDF as PostScript.
                                                                                      5. Open with Illustrator.
                                                                                      6. If Illustrator doesn't recognize the ".ps" file, rename it to ".eps" and try again.

                                                                                       

                                                                                      Nine out of 10 times this works for me. Good luck!

                                                                                       

                                                                                      Jim

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