Excel Printing Tips – 6 Steps For Perfect Printing

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excel2007Do you get tens of pages out, with some of the columns standing by themselves in an unknown page every time you print out an Excel worksheet? Tired of wasting paper time and time again?

It’s time to get things straight. Let’s see how to print an Excel sheet the right way.

[All the Excel tips shown here work in Excel 2003 as well]

Step 1 ““ A new sheet filled with data

I used Google tables to get some excel suitable data. Currently, it looks like this:

This is how our sheet looks like at the begining

This is how our sheet looks like at the beginning

Step 2 ““ Convert the data to a table

(If you do not use a tabular structure in your sheet, you can skip this step.) One Excel tip to make the data look better and easier to scrutinize with, start by converting it to a table. Select the cells that contain data and press Ctrl + L. in the opened window click OK .

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The sheet now looks like this:

Table-w570

The data designed as a table

Step 3 ““ Set the area to be printed

Another Excel tip to print only the part of the sheet you need is to set a print area. Select the cells (if it’s a table, click somewhere inside it and press Ctrl+Shift+8). On the ‘Page Layout’ tab, in the ‘Page Setup group’, click ‘Print Area‘, and then click Set Print Area’.

Step 4 – Wrap the text in the cells to make it visible

In order to make all the text in the cells visible, leave the cells from the previous step selected. On the ‘Home’ tab, in the ‘Alignment’ group, click ‘Wrap Text‘. Doing so will make the lines spread down and the text within them visible. This is a useful Excel tip when you have long lines of text in individual cells.

Wraped Text

wrapped Text

Step 5 ““ customize the data to fit into the desired size and number of pages

Now is the critical part. In order for the printing to look well and make sense, you need to set it right in the print preview mode. Go there by pressing Ctrl+F2.

Click ‘Show Margins‘ in the Preview group. The page margins will be displayed. Stand on each of them with the mouse and drag them to the edges of the page, as much as your printer can handle (you can also choose one of the default margin values by going back to the normal view and in the ‘Page Layout’ tab, in the ‘Page Setup’ group, clicking ‘Margins’).

Broaden_page_margins-w570

Now, choose ‘Page Setup‘ in the Print group. In the opened window, fill-in the desired values under ‘Fit to‘. If you set it to 1 page wide by 1 page tall, as I did in this showcase, your data will be printed on a single page. The cost of doing so is that the text will become smaller (since all of it has to fit into a single page).

Page_Setup-w570

Step 6 ““ Center the table and add a header and a footer

Still in the ‘Page Setup’ window, click the ‘Margin’ tab. Under ‘Center on page‘, select the ‘Horizontally‘ and ‘Vertically‘ check box.

Center_Taable-w570

Now move to the ‘Header/Footer’ tab, click ‘Custom Header‘, and fill-in a header. You can include text, page number, images and so on. Click ‘Custom Footer‘ to add a footer. Click OK.

Footer_and_Header-w570

Step 7 ““ customize row and column sizes

As different cells contain different data or information, you might want to change the length or width of the rows and columns. You can do that in the print preview mode, by standing with the mouse exactly on the borders of the cells and dragging them right or left.

Since now some of the cells might be bigger in length then they need to be, lets make them automatically fit the text inside them. Press the ESC key to go back to normal view. Select the entire sheet by pressing Ctrl + A, and double click the separator between line three and four.

You may need to repeat step 6 several times until the table fits perfectly to the page.

The final display is present below. You are ready to print.

Ready_to_print-w570

How do you achieve perfect printing? Do you have any Excel tips of your own to share? Let us know in the comments.

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Comments (10)
  • Jisha

    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

      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!

  • Dave

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

    • Eyal Sela

      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…

  • fourstar

    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 :)

  • HamalSharatan

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

  • Terry

    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

      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.

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Affiliate Disclamer

This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.