Printing Spreadsheets Easily

From the Office Guy mailbag:

A: I’ve often said that Excel is one of the trickier applications to print from. Let’s face it, in a Word document the way the document looks on the screen is the way it’s going to look when you send it to the printer. That is because Word assumes the paper size and margins and there is only so much room to place text on a page – what you see is what you get!

Excel however allows you to put data in as many columns as you wish but then must then figure out what will fit on to a printed page that also needs room for margins. A lot of variables like columns widths and font size choices can affect this. In short, page breaks in Excel are automatically set by the application, often with results like the “stranded columns” – one or two columns printing on a separate sheet.

Now I could go into all sort of possible ways to analyze and adjust print settings, but your concern was just wanting something that’s fast so you can get your printout and be on your way from the printer.

So, let’s a take a quick look at some tools in Excel that have been hiding in plain sight for years – the View buttons. Where are these View buttons? They are in the bottom right corner of the Excel window on the Status bar (the last visible portion of the Excel window). Here’s a picture of where to find them:

It’s kind of easy to overlook these view buttons because they are in an area that most users tend to ignore – the bottom of the screen. But now that you know where to look let’s examine these buttons in more detail.  There are three View buttons available: Normal, Page Layout and Page Break Preview.

The Normal button is turned on by default (notice how it appears darker than the other two). This is the view you are in 99 percent of the time when you are entering and editing data in your spreadsheets. But Normal view does not show you where the margins of a printed page are and does not display where the automatic page breaks are located.

Page Layout view changes your screen to show you how the data will be distributed on a printed page, including showing white space for the margins. So, if you are trying to visualize this, click the Page Layout view button :

You can see from this illustration that Columns A through D are all that will fit on one printed page before the space needed for the margin and that Columns E and F end up stranded on another page. Now you know where the automatic page breaks are. But what can you do to fix this? Click the Page Break Preview button:

Excel with then show you with blue dashed lines where the automatic page breaks have been set. All you need to do is hover your mouse over the dashed blue line until your mouse pointer displays as a two-headed arrow:

Then hold down your mouse button and drag to the right until you are on the solid blue border (end of the printed page) and let go of your mouse. You will then see that Excel will fit all the columns on to one page:

That’s it! You can then click the Normal view button to view your spreadsheet the way you “normally” do and finally click the Print button. Hope this helps!

Until next month,
The Office Guy

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