object linking and embedding (OLE)

Definition of object linking and embedding (OLE) in The Network Encyclopedia.

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What is object linking and embedding (OLE)?

A feature that allows users to create and edit documents that contain objects created by different applications. For example, you can embed bitmap images, sound clips, spreadsheet files, and other objects in Microsoft Word documents.

The term “object linking and embedding” comes from these two types of actions for creating compound documents:

  • Linking
    adds a link in a document that points to source data stored somewhere else. Linked objects are stored in the document as a path to the original linked data, usually a separate file from the container document.


  • Embedding
    on the other hand, adds one document directly to the other. Embedded objects are stored with the document that contains them.


See also