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With a little bit of practice, it’s not too difficult to make Excel spreadsheets that look great How to Create Powerful Graphs & Charts in Microsoft Excel How to Create Powerful Graphs & Charts in Microsoft Excel A good graph can make the difference between getting your point across or leaving everyone dozing off. We show you how to create powerful graphs in Microsoft Excel that will engage and inform your audience. Read More . However, translating what you see on screen to a printed page isn’t always easy.

The biggest obstacle standing in the way of perfect printing is not knowing how to carry out the process step-by-step. Follow this guide, and you’ll have the document in your hands in no time at all.

1. Assemble Your Data

As with most Excel projects, the first step here is to get your data ready.

data

If you already have a spreadsheet set up, you’re ready to go! If not, import your data How to Import Data Into Your Excel Spreadsheets the Neat & Easy Way How to Import Data Into Your Excel Spreadsheets the Neat & Easy Way Have you ever struggled with importing or exporting data into a spreadsheet? This tutorial will help you master the art of moving data between Microsoft Excel, CSV, HTML, and other file formats. Read More into Excel and continue on to the next step.

2. Convert Data to a Table

Next, we’ll arrange our data as a table. You can skip this step if your data doesn’t lend itself to table formatting, but otherwise it’s an easy way to simplify the printing process How to Set Up Your Printer in Windows 10 How to Set Up Your Printer in Windows 10 Printers have a reputation for being difficult to set up. In Windows 10, however, it's actually a breeze. We'll show you how you can get Windows 10 to detect and connect to your printer. Read More .

To convert data to a table, drag a selection around all applicable content, then use CTRL + T. Tick the My table has headers box if appropriate, and click OK.

data-as-table

Table formatting allows us to do useful things like ordering our rows by the information in a particular column. However, it also lets us treat all this data as one entity, which is very handy as we prepare to print.

3. Set Print Area

We’ll tell Excel exactly what we want to print. To do so, use your mouse to select everything that’s required — if your data is formatted as a table, you can click anywhere within its parameters and use CTRL + SHIFT + 8.

data-selected

Now, head to the Page Layout tab and click Print Area in the Page Setup section.

print-area

Use the dropdown and select Set Print Area.

4. Wrap Text, If Necessary

At the moment, each row in our table can be neatly formatted by adjusting the width of each column. However, this wouldn’t be the case if we were to add a column of quotes to our spreadsheet.

quotes

As you can see, now the contents of our final column exceed its normal width. We can make these entries fit, but we’ll need to format them as multiple lines of text. That might not be particularly easy to read, so we’ll wrap the text to alleviate any eye strain 7 Ways to Reduce Screen Time and Rest Your Eyes 7 Ways to Reduce Screen Time and Rest Your Eyes Staying healthy includes caring for the eyes. Vision related health problems are a real lifestyle ailment and our digital habits are promoting. The cure lies in thoughtful use of the screen. Read More .

Select all the data in the table. Then, head to the Home tab, find the Alignment section, and click Wrap Text.

quotes-wrapped

Any longer text elements should now possess the proper spacing between each line. Now is a good time to make any necessary adjustments to the width of each column and the height of each row.

5. Adjust Margins

Next, click File and navigate to Print. Here, you’ll see a preview of your spreadsheet as it will appear on a printed page.

print-preview

This is a good time to decide whether you want to print in landscape or portrait orientation. Your data should inform your decision; if there are too many columns to make things legible in portrait orientation, choose landscape. On the other hand, if your spreadsheet is comprised of lots and lots of rows with fewer columns, portrait may be the better option.

Once you’ve made this decision, use the Margins dropdown to select the area of the page where your spreadsheet will appear. This will depend on the capabilities of your printer, but the Narrow Margins preset is a good way of getting as much as possible on the page, and it won’t cause problems for the majority of devices.

If you want to make sure that your spreadsheet is as large and as legible as possible once printed, we can use Excel’s scaling tools to do so. Click the Scaling dropdown and select Custom Scaling Options.

custom-scaling-options

On the following screen, you can use the Fit to option to scale your spreadsheet to the width or height of a page

adjust-to-fit-to

This can be useful if you’re looking to confine your spreadsheet to a single page How to Print an Excel Spreadsheet on One Single Page How to Print an Excel Spreadsheet on One Single Page A beautifully crafted spreadsheet loses all its appeal when it comes printed on nine sheets of paper, with half of them empty. We show you how to get everything nicely on one single page. Read More .

Alternatively, you can use the Adjust to option to scale your content by percentage, allowing for a closer level of control.

6. Center Your Spreadsheet and Add a Header or Footer

Without leaving the Print screen, click the Margins dropdown and select Custom Margins. Then, tick the boxes marked Horizontally and Vertically in the Center on page section to center your spreadsheet.

center-on-page

This is optional, but it’s typically the best way to organize the blank margins that are going to surround your spreadsheet on the page.

Now is the time to add a header or footer, if necessary. Navigate to the Header/Footer tab of the Page Setup window and create as complex a header or footer as you see fit. You could also skip this step entirely — it’s up to you.

7. Make Final Adjustments and Print

At this point, we’re just about ready. Head back to the Print screen and take a look at the preview. If you see anything that doesn’t look right, make the appropriate size adjustments 8 Formatting Tips for Perfect Tables in Microsoft Word 8 Formatting Tips for Perfect Tables in Microsoft Word A table is more than a mere grid of cells. In Word, tables are not just containers for data but essential formatting tools. Find out how to manage this dual role with eight simple tips. Read More to individual rows or columns to take care of the problem. Once everything is to your liking, you can start printing out some copies.

Ready Set Print

Printing Excel spreadsheets can be a mess, unless you take the time to set up your document. We hope this guide has helped you avoid all the common pitfalls.

Are you struggling to make your spreadsheet look good in print? Or do you have a tip for other users that you’re eager to share with the community? Either way, the comments section below is the place to go if you want to join — or start — the conversation.

Originally written by Eyal Sela on August 7, 2009.

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  1. Freddy Lemmens
    December 23, 2016 at 5:03 pm

    this is the old way of doing things, in step 5 simply click 'fit all columns to one page'

  2. anantha krishna
    January 6, 2016 at 4:57 am

    i thought i should share a trick whereby i print watermark in excel too (while ms word has water mark feature, excel does not have it). what i do is i take my company logo as a jpg and format it with less contast and more brightness (so that the text across the watermark in the final printout is more legible). then use this formatted jpg as footer (in header footer in page print preview), place it middle section. this trick will work on any printer (from dotmatrix onwards).

    also in order to save on stationery, i too always print any (word/excel/ppt) in pdf format, view it, if i a satisfied, i take a hard copy.

    i shall appreciate feed back.......kakrishna@mmtclimited.com/kakris60@yahoo.com

  3. Jisha
    February 13, 2015 at 6:21 am

    Dear Eyal,
    When I convert an excel to PDF, the lines look differently. i.e. they have different thicknesses. But in excel sheet I have given them the same thickness only. In print preview also the lines looks same. Any tips to fix this?
    I prepare reports in Excel and share it as pdf.
    Thanks in advance!

    • Aaron
      March 5, 2015 at 7:17 pm

      Hi Eyal,

      This is a common discovery. It is not an issue however.
      The pixels of your screen (and Mine!) are a little weird and when showing the PDF document they enhance some lines and not others. This will not show up in the Printed version. This is purely a graphics "blip".

      Have a great day!

  4. Dave
    August 10, 2009 at 3:34 am

    Print to PDF? What is wrong with Print-Preview?

    • Eyal Sela
      August 10, 2009 at 2:12 pm

      Well, I don't know exactly how to explain this, but printing to PDF is a bit closer to the real thing, so it gives you a better perspective. I guess it's also psychological...

  5. fourstar
    August 8, 2009 at 4:39 pm

    Whilst I know it isn't a Print issue, I wouldn't let this go out without formatting Column C as 'Date' so it looked consistent :)

    • Eyal Sela
      August 8, 2009 at 4:48 pm

      You are absolutely right...

  6. HamalSharatan
    August 8, 2009 at 9:46 am

    Good tips, I wonder if they work with OpenOffice Calc.

    • Eyal Sela
      August 8, 2009 at 4:48 pm

      Hi Hamal, if you try it, please tell us...

  7. Terry
    August 8, 2009 at 4:02 am

    The one thing I due differently is in step 5 and limits the 'cost' of squeezing everything into one page. Most of the time I just want the width to be squeezed, not the length. So I set my width to '1' while then setting the length to '99'

    It will not print 99 pages, it will end printing after all of your data is out. But setting it to '99' I never have to figure out what that value is and I never short change myself.

    One last note, I always print to a PDF first, then if it checks out the way I want it to, I then send the PDF to hard copy.

    • Eyal Sela
      August 8, 2009 at 4:08 am

      Thanks Terry, These are both good tips.

      I also print to PDF (or 'print to a file') to see how it'll look like when printed on paper.