Tech Tip: Control Excel Printing with Page Breaks


Unlike Microsoft Word documents, which are generally built to be printed, Microsoft Excel files are built to crunch and manipulate numbers. However, there is sometimes the need to print something. Anybody who’s done printing in Excel knows that it can be a roll of the dice how it’s going to show up on a sheet of paper. Here are some tips to help with that.

Page Breaks: First thing to figure out is how and where the pages are going to break to make sure all the data you need is on one page. Easiest way to do that is in Page Break Preview mode.

  1. On the “View” tab, in the “Workbook View” group, select Page Break Preview:
  2. In Page Break Preview, dashed lines are page breaks Excel automatically added. Solid lines are page breaks that were added manually:
  3. Once you’re in Page Break Preview mode, you can do one of the following:
    • To insert a vertical page break, select the row below where you want to insert the page break.
    • To insert a horizontal page break, select the column to the right of where you want to insert the page break.
  4. On the Page Layout tab, in the Page Setup group, click Breaks:
  5. Click Insert Page Break.

You can then drag and drop the page breaks where you might need. Note: If manual page breaks that you insert don’t have any effect, there could be a setting that is stopping you. It may be that the Fit To scaling option has been selected on the Page tab of the Page Setup dialog box (Page Layout tab, Page Setup group). To force things how you want them, change the scaling to “Adjust to.”

Set a Specific Print Area: Sometimes you only want to print a specific area of your document. You can do that as well fairly easily.

  1. Select the cells in Excel that you’re wanting to print.
  2. One the Page Layout tab, under Page Setup, click on Print Area and then click on Set Print Area:
  3. You can add cells to an existing print area on the same menu by clicking “Add to Print Area”:
  4. You can then go back to the aforementioned Page Break Preview to see what is going to print (non-printing cells will be darkened).

Next month we’ll talk about repeating rows and scaling worksheets for printing. Stay tuned!

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