Linking Overview

How Linking Works

Creating data links is different from creating hyperlinks. Hyperlinks allow for cross-references in your documents, whereas data links establish a relationship among values. Data linking is a key component in maintaining data integrity. Data links allow you to change one source value to update multiple linked destination values.

See Hyperlinks in Documents for more information.

When To Link Dates and Values

Dates, text, and numeric values should be linked to a source value when they appear multiple times in one or more documents that are updated regularly. This way, the source values are created once and used in as many locations, documents, or projects as desired. When you change the source value, all of the destination or usage links are simultaneously updated. This saves time, allows you to make last-minute changes, and greatly reduces the risk of errors in your documents.

Linking Values Into Text

To link values from a workbook into text in your document, select a cell and right-click to access Copy in the drop-down menu. Then go back to your document and select over or delete the original value and right click to access the Paste command.

Now the clipboard appears below the value. Choose Create Links. Dates can be copied and pasted from your workbook in the same way as numeric values and appropriate options will apply in the clipboard after pasting.

TIP: If you are creating a filing document,  you may need to reuse data that requires different XBRL tagging. Learn more about this process in our article on Chain Linking for XBRL.

Linking Values Into Tables

To create a link from a value in a workbook or table, copy the value by selecting and using the right-click menu. If you copy a range to paste into a table, you can select just the top cell in the range or the top left cell in a block of values before pasting. Paste the value(s) into the document in a new location or over other values. Choose an appropriate link option from the clipboard and click Apply.

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The options displayed depend on the type of data copied to the clipboard. There are several options for linking when working in a table. If you hover over each of the options, a tooltip will appear with an explanation of each.

Selecting Transpose will display an highlight of the location where the cells will be moved to. Clicking Apply moves the cells and closes the clipboard menu. This also unchecks the Transpose checkbox. You can undo the transpose using the Undo button.

Visual Cues for Link Type and State

There are a variety of visual cues for link types and states in workbooks and tables. Source values are indicated by a blue triangle in the upper left-hand corner of the cell.

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Destination cells are indicated by a green triangle.

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Until you share your document, an orange indicator will appear next to these triangles.

For links in text in the automatic/text categories, indicators will appear as gray outlines with triangles in the upper-left corner.

Links in all other categories will appear as blue underlines for source links and green underlines for destination links.

When a source link that has destination links is removed, the destination does not disappear on its own. It breaks and turns red, indicating that a destination is no longer receiving information from a source, either because the source link was removed or the source document has been moved to the trash. The only solution for this is to recreate the links.

A red triangle in the bottom right corner indicates that a formula is not working properly. This is because there is an underlying link element on each formula, so if the formula can't find the contributing values it will turn red.