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Dynamically Combine AutoCAD Data Extraction Tables with Excel Tables

DataExtraction Anyone who follows me on twitter got a heads up about this post yesterday. Ever since its introduction in 2008, Excel table linking has been one of my favorite features inside AutoCAD. Likewise, it seems I’m not alone with that notion, as my posts discussing AutoCAD and Excel interoperability are consistently some of my post popular posts here at The CAD Geek. Another one of my personal favorite features inside AutoCAD are Data Extraction Tables. The idea is that you can get AutoCAD to create a dynamic table from the information contained inside your drawing or drawings (yes Data Extraction tables can work with multiple drawings – very cool).

While Excel table linking and Data Extraction tables are certainly powerful features by their self, what if we could combine them into one super table?

That’s exactly what I’m going to show you today. The process is rather involved, so rather than attempting to write things out, I chose to make a video that allows you to see everything (not just what I choose to grab screenshots of). Here’s a basic outline of how all of this magic comes together to help you follow along with the video:

  1. Create a new drawing (you can also use existing drawings)
  2. Create a new Attributed Block. I kept it simple with just one field, but your Attributed Block could have any number of fields (attributes). I’ll expand on this in a moment.
  3. Create a new Multileader style (optional). To remain true to the concept of a parts list, I chose to use multileaders to help illustrate some of this methods versatility. This method will still work if you chose to key in on a block you inserted into your drawing.
  4. Use the Extract Data tool found on the Linking & Extraction panel of the Insert tab.
  5. Create a new Data Extraction; data extraction file, select drawings to extract from, etc.
  6. Select the object (block/multileader) you want to extract from the current drawing(s).
  7. Select the object property (ID in this example) you want to extract.
  8. Link External Data; set up link and select Excel spreadsheet from the Data Link Manager.
  9. Data Matching; match Data Extraction (drawing) column with a column in the Excel spreadsheet.
  10. Set up table structure, and insert into your drawing.

Once again, the Parts List example is just one of many applications possible using this method. Just recently I had someone ask about adding information (that wasn’t otherwise available from Sheet Set Manager) to a Sheet List table. An architect may use this method to display information about rooms, doors, & windows. While Civil 3D has many tools for creating tables, this method could also be used to ID an area in your DWG, and then link it to additional information from Excel.

Those are just a couple of examples I was able to come up with as I wrote this post. I’m curious, how have you/could you use this process in your drawings? Let me know in the comments section below!

About The Author

Donnie is author of the book and Autodesk Official Press, AutoCAD and AutoCAD LT: No Experience Required, a columnist for AUGIWorld Magazine, Autodesk University speaker, and former member of the AUGI Board of Directors.


  1. is it possible now to make dynamic blocks with data in excel file?

  2. ?Thank you very very much! 

  3. I’m looking for a way to extract or copy/paste plain text from an autocad 2010 file and insert into an excel file. Can anyone help?

  4. I keep getting this message “DATA LINK CANNOT BE CREATED BECAUSE EXCEL CANNOT BE FOUND”. What can I do?  I have Excel on my computer.

  5. The linked table was working beautifully until last week.  In the past, I adjusted all the rows heights, column widths, and text heights to correct size and saved the file and when I reopen, the file looked exactly as I left it.  Now after I adjust all the sizes, save, close, and reopen the file, part of the table loses the formatting and the text size increases.  This only happens with tables that utilize the ‘table break’ and only affects the “broken” sections of table – please see attached image for clarification.   

    I don’t want to keep reformatting everytime I reopen the file. Do you know what this is? 

    • Did you ever find a fix for this? I’m having the same problem and can’t figure out what to do about it.

      • Did you get anywhere?

  6. Can i do this in AutoCad LT 2012?

  7. How can I make it so another field shows up? In your example the number 1 or 2 shows up but what if I want another column say unit cost show up?

  8. I need to link autocad fields to table cells. I know this can be done by inserting a field and using the formula parameter to link to a table cell. It works great if the data contained in the cell is numeric but if it is a non-numeric value it does not work. Is there a simple way to link a field to a table cell containing non-numeric data?

  9. Thank you for the post, it seems like these sorts of methods will be the future of notes in cad. I do have a question though:

    Is it possible to only link the multileaders that appear in a viewport to a table in the paperspace of the same layout as the viewport? For example, we do all of our construction notes in an xref. We then reference it in to the modelspace of our drawing and use viewports in each layout. When I do the steps you outlined, it brings in every row of the excel table (as I expected) not just the ones shown in my viewport. Any advice you have would be very helpful!!

  10. We do utility inventories using GIS and AtuoCAD Civil 3D for survey work. Is there a why to data link the multileaders with the dbf in GIS?
    Ideally I could auto-create the Multileaders from an Attribute Table (dbf), where the arrow head would be on the coordinate of the point (designated in the attribute table) and the leader landing would be at another point (which could be defined as a coordinate in the attribute table or just be a defined distance and bearing from the arrow head). Then the rows in excel would become the lines of text in the mleader, and maintain a data link between the two, so when the mleader's mtext is updated it would update the corresponding cells and vise-versa.
    Is this possible?

  11. Thanks for the comment. Excellent ideas for using this method!

  12. Good post, This subject seems to pass people by alot.

    I use this method for manhole setting out (before Civils 3D) create a non printable block with the name as the attribute then extract the data to an excell spreadsheet. Link your manhole shedudual to the extraction file and you set. I guess you could add all sorts of extra data if you wanted.

    I have also used this for making a settingout table for piled foundations.


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