How to embed a Word document in another Word document

How to embed a Word document (or other file) in another Word document

Sometimes it makes sense to embed one Microsoft Word document in another, rather than include a link to it, or paste the contents in. This is especially useful when sending multiple documents to people who can’t access your shared files. (Though only, of course, in environments where you can be sure everybody has Microsoft Word. If that’s not assured, you should be using something more universal, such as PDF.)

For some reason Word makes it quite tricky to do, its interface preferring to send you down the path of taking the contents of your second document and pasting them into the first.

The easiest way I’ve found:

  1. Find your second file (the one to be embedded) in Windows Explorer. Copy it (Ctrl-C)
  2. Go to the spot in the document you want to embed it in
  3. On the menu: Edit, Paste special, paste as Word document (or as file), then turn on Display as icon. (Ignore the gibberish where it claims to be pasting as a bitmap picture.) (Note in the screen grab below how short filenames live on in WinXP/Word 2003, ten years after long filenames were introduced into Windows)
  4. Click Change icon
  5. Change the caption to something meaningful, as Word’s default behaviour is to give it the incredibly useless caption “Microsoft Word Document”
  6. If you want you can change the icon, though unless you’re deliberately trying to confuse people, the default is probably fine.
  7. OK, OK. It should be done. Test by double-clicking on the icon

Microsoft today started previewing the next version of Office. Ten bucks says it won’t make this process any easier than it is now.

Dialog box for embedding documents

98 thoughts on “How to embed a Word document in another Word document

  1. Amita

    I tried this as it looked promising. But the word document stopped responding as soon as the embedded doc was pasted to it.

    Is there any other way to do this?

  2. daniel Post author

    Don’t know Amita. I tried this with Word 2003, on a couple of installations, and it worked fine. Can you open the embedded document separately?

  3. Dennis

    Thanks man, I needed this for a project; creating an action plan with all relevant stuff pasted in, and this was the only way!

  4. Shawn

    I have the same problem as Amita. Word 2007 locks up as soon as you try to embed a doc into a word doc. Office 2003 works fine. Tried the paste special method, regular cut & paste, and drag n drop. Same issue.

  5. Farhan

    Excellent, you’re the first site that comes up in google when searching for embedding docs into work !



  6. Theresea

    Hi, I was just reading your comments on how to embed a word document into another. I recently attended a Prof. Dev. where they showed a digital book that had text boxes, video, and sound embeded into certain parts of the book attached to certain words. You could only see these when you ran your curser over the text. Do you know how this is done?

  7. Ivo

    Awesome, guys ! I was looking for a solution in Google for more than an hour. You really rock 😉

  8. John


    Works great. I had been given an alternative tip on how to do this. First copy the document in Explorer,
    then paste it into an email in Outlook, and then copy and paste one more time from Outlook to the Word document.

    That seemed to also worked but led to all sorts of problems when I tried make and save changes to the embedded documents.
    Any changes I made were not saved and after a while my computer started crashing whenever I tried to open the embedded documents.

    Your method is much better!

  9. Big Dave

    What would the URL look like to get directly to an imbedded word document within another word document ?

    Would a search engine be able to index embedded documents and be able to provide a link back to the specific sub document. What other issues does this cause with clients and browsers ?

  10. daniel Post author

    I doubt very much that there would be a direct URL to an embedded document. And I reckon most search engines would have problems navigating through them.

  11. SMA

    A more direct method: Go to Insert menus. Under Text there is an option called Object. Click on Object, Create From File, Browse for the file you wish to embed,Click insert, Display as icon. Under the File Name field (which was filled in when you Browse for the file), you probably want to remove all the local disk path characters (C:\SMA\sub\temp\ACTUAL_FILE_NAME), leaving only the actual name of the file. Click OK.

  12. Carl W.

    Thank you. Between this and SMA’s comment. This really helped. Even 4 years later. Looked all through MS Office help and couldn’t find the process.

  13. Chris

    This is great but what i need is to be able to then send the embedded document in the main body of an email… i have tryed this method but it just doesn’t work at the othe end.

  14. Simon

    Brilliant. Think of the hours of productive work that could be saved worldwide if Microsoft had employed you to develop the help section for Word!

  15. Barbara

    for SMA: I’ve spent an hour in Word 2007 trying to figure out how to do this! Many thanks for the clear instructions 🙂 I can’t count how many websites I went to with the same instructions, which did not work.

  16. Ian Deaville

    This works fine, EXCEPT I have a document formatted as a landscape page, which I am trying to embed into a portrait formatted document. The embedded document will not shrink to fit into the width of the new page. Any ideas?

  17. Anonymous

    If I make changes to the embedded documents do I have to go back and redo my link or will it be updated automatically?
    Cuz that would make my life sooooo much easier.

  18. Frank

    now how do you drag/copy the object out of the document to your server. All I get is scrap.

  19. Mark Allard

    The dogs danglers – this came out of the blue when soneone asked me – and your solution was top of the list! And your site will now be bookmarked!!

  20. Georgia

    Really needed to know how to change the caption. Perfect explanation. Many thanks!

  21. MD

    Yeppers…this worked well. I had been screwing around for 2 hours trying to pull this off. Muchas Gracias

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