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3 Printing Tips For Excel

Printing at this point is fairly benign task (and frowned upon unless absolutely necessary by some).

Me? Sometimes it is critical I have something in my hands to fully digest what I’m looking at – suppose I’m old school that way! Here are several things I’ve learned about printing from Excel over the years that I hope will be a help to you.

3 Printing Tips For Excel

Printing Multiple Tabs

This one I use a lot – we have our KPIs tracked on a spreadsheet, one tab for data input and other tabs for various representations of the data, ex: by quarter, graphs, etc.  I used to go into each tab and print individual sheets but in the Print | Setting  dialog there is an option that defaults to ‘Print Active Sheets – only print the active sheets’

Three things you do here;

  1. You can print the entire workbook by choosing this drop-down and selecting ‘Print Entire Workbook’
  2. You can print multiple tabs (sheets) by first selecting the tabs in Excel (click the first tab to print then shift-click other tabs to make the active) then selecting Print Active Sheets (the default) to have only the sheets you want to print.
  3. You can also highlight an area of a spreadsheet then select the ‘Print Selection’ option which will print just what you have highlighted – consider this a shortcut that allows you to avoid setting a new print area in the sheet.

 Scaling your Print

Pretty much all Excel users know about this one – it is hard to live without!  This option allows you to scale your print area onto your page.  Use this when you have a spreadsheet that, when printed, may have a column/row or two that hangs off onto another printed sheet.

Instead of messing with column width and row heights you can select the scaling to have Excel auto-magically cram your data onto one sheet.

With this option you can;

  1. Get all data onto a single sheet
  2. Get all columns onto a single sheet (rows can print onto subsequent sheets)
  3. Get all rows onto a single sheet (columns can print onto subsequent sheets)

Do use this feature simply go to File | Print | Fit Sheet on One Page.  You can select to scale the entire print area to one page, all columns across one page (rows can flow onto subsequent pages) or all rows on a page (columns can flow onto subsequent pages)

Repeating rows across all pages

So let’s say you have a few columns with headers and hundreds of rows.  You print the document but it is impossible to follow all but the first sheet because the column headings are printed at the top of subsequent sheets.  Here is how to fix that;

  1. Go into the print dialog and select Page Setup
  2. On the Sheet tab you will see a section for Print Titles
  3. You can specify a row to print at the top of each page or a column to print at the left of each page

Hope these tips are helpful!

Bonus Tips

When I originally published this article I received several questions about Excel printing that I hadn’t thought to include in the original article – so here they are; Bonus Tips….

Forcing A Page Break Where You Want It

When you are printing a sheet or doing scaling, Excel makes it’s own page breaks based on the amount of data it can fit on a sheet but suppose you want to manually tell Excel where in a column to insert a page break?

  1. Select the Row (or Column) where you would like the break to appear (this is typically after previewing the print and seeing where Excel things the brakes should go)
  2. Click Page Layout | Breaks | Insert Break.

Manual brakes can be removed using this same process but selecting Remove Page Break

Printing Cell

You can right-click any cell in Excel and select Insert Comment which brings up a dialog box that allows you to free-form text to explain a cell – pretty handy on complex sheets to document the context of the cell data.  So how do you get these comments to print out on the sheet?

  1. Go to File | Print | Page Setup
  2. Select the Sheet Tab
  3. Use the Comments drop down to select if the comments are printed at the end of the sheet or inline with the data.

Centering Your Print On The Page

If your spreadsheet doesn’t quit fill a page either horizontally or vertically (you may need some more data!!) you can select to center the content on the page to make it look a bit more polished by doing the following;

  1. Go To File | Print | Page Setup
  2. Select the Margins Tab
  3. Use the Center On Page options to select Horizontal, Vertical or both.

Printing Grid Lines

You can use Excel formatting to make data look very nice with Format As Table but what if you just want a quick a dirty print out with the actual lines from the spreadsheet?

  1. Go to File | Print | Page Setup
  2. Select the Sheet Tab
  3. Under the Print section select Gridlines to turn this on and off.

Double-Bonus – on this same screen you can select to print the column and row headings, ex: (A, B, C; 1, 2, 3; etc.) which is very handy when you are sharing printed data with the group and need to refer back to certain cells.

Hope these BONUS tips are helpful!

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