How to Link Excel Spreadsheets into AutoCAD and Revit

One of the biggest issues I see in projects is duplicate information. This is something I always try to avoid whenever I can. This might mean duplicate information within a single Revit file across multiple sheets, or duplicate information between different programs.

If you find yourself getting structural schedules from engineers, or have non-Revit-using people at your firm who prefer to write keynotes, room schedules, etc. in Excel that need to be imported into Revit or AutoCAD, please see the video below for a step-by-step tutorial of how to safely link your files so they will update from a single source.

So if you tend to learn better with pictures rather than videos, see below for a step-by-step tutorial of how to link your Excel schedules into both AutoCAD and Revit.

Linking Excel table into AutoCAD

1. Open Excel Spreadsheet

First you'll want to open the excel spreadsheet that needs to be linked into your project files. You can format the fonts, columns widths, cell merging, etc. now, or you can always come back and edit the table later.

01 Excel Spreadsheet Initial.JPG

2. Open a new AutoCAD file

Open a new AutoCAD file if you will be linking the spreadsheet into Revit, but if you’re linking into an existing AutoCAD project, open that project file.

3. Click the Link Data icon

You can find this under the Annotate tab in the Tables section.

02 CAD Starter.JPG

4. Click Create a new Excel Data Link

03 CAD Create New Datalink_edited.jpg

5. Enter Data Link Name

Enter the name of the schedule you'll be linking in and hit OK. Then hit OK on the Data Link Manager dialogue box.

04 CAD Datalink Name_edited.jpg

7. Check cell range

Flip back over to your Excel file to check the cell range for the information you're linking. In this case, the cell range is A1 to C14.

06 Excel cell range_edited.jpeg

8. Modify Data Link settings

Flip back over to your AutoCAD file and in the data link dialogue box, enter the following information.

  • To choose the Excel file you’ll be linking in, click the three dots and find the file.

  • Make sure the path type is set to full path.

  • Make sure the correct sheet is chosen.

  • Check the Link to Range box and enter the cell range that you found in step 6 in the format of A1:C14

07 CAD data link settings_edited.jpeg

9. Click on the Table icon

You can find the table icon under the Annotate tab in the Tables section.

06 CAD Starter_Table.jpeg
 

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10. Select Insert From Data Link

Then use the drop down menu below it to select the data link you just created and hit OK.

08 CAD make table.JPG

11. Place table

Click anywhere in the drawing space to place your table. Your screen should look something like this.

09 CAD Inserted table.JPG

12. Save the file


Linking Excel into Revit

Excel can't link directly into Revit so a workaround for that problem is to link the Excel file into AutoCAD (as we just did above) and then link the AutoCAD file into Revit. Luckily the hard part is over; linking into Revit is very simple.

1. Open your Revit project

2. Select Link CAD icon

You can find the Link CAD icon on the ribbon under Insert in the Link section.

10 Revit Link CAD.JPG
 

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3. Modify Link settings

  • Navigate to where your AutoCAD file is saved, make sure it's a DWG file, and select the file.

  • Change the colors to Black and White

  • Change positioning to Manual - Center

11 Revit Link CAD settings copy.jpg

4. Click anywhere on the drawing area to place the schedule.

5. Save your file

That's it you're done!


Making Changes to the Table

Any changes that need to be made to the table/spreadsheet, whether it's formatting, content, etc. should be done within the Excel file. Something to keep in mind though is that, although the table is linked into both AutoCAD and Revit, it won't automatically update when you make changes.

Here's what you need to do to make sure those changes are reflected in AutoCAD and Revit as well as Excel.

1. Save your Excel file

Once you make changes to the Excel spreadsheet, save the file.

12 Excel modified.JPG

2. Update AutoCAD

No go back to your AutoCAD file, select the entire table, and click the Download From Source icon. You can find it under the Annotate tab in the Tables section. This will pull the new information from the Excel file and update it in the CAD file.

If the table ends up having strange formatting after updating, you can make a mark the top left corner of the table, delete it, and then insert a new table using the same data link. This should resolve any formatting issues.

13 CAD download from source.JPG

3. Save the file

Make sure the updates are reflected and then save the file.

14 CAD updated schedule.JPG
 

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4. Manage Links in Revit

Go back to to Revit and select the Manage Links icon on the ribbon under the Manage tab in the Manage Project section.

15 Revit Manage Links.JPG

5. Reload Link

  • Select the CAD Formats tab

  • Click on the link you want to update

  • Select Reload and hit OK

16 Revit Reload link.JPG

6. Save your file

Check to make sure that the updates are reflected in your Revit project and save the file.

17 Revit Updated schedule.JPG

Note: If you close and reopen your Revit project after updating the AutoCAD file, the changes will automatically update in Revit once you reopen the file. This will not happen automatically in AutoCAD though. You will still have to reopen the AutoCAD file, download from source, and save the file to update any changes made in the linked Excel file.


Final Tips

Modifying Number of Cells

If you make any changes to the number of rows or columns in the table, simply go back to the Data Link Manager and adjust the cell range. Then save and reload the link in Revit.

Again, if you have any formatting issues, mark the top left corner of the table, delete it, and then insert a new table using the data link.

Copying Schedules in Revit

If you copy a linked schedule in Revit across multiple sheets, only the original schedule will be linked. So if you want to have the same schedule on multiple pages, be sure to link them in on each page, not copy them.