Helpful Strategies for Printing Your Excel Data (and Saving Time and Paper)

by Avantix Learning Team | Updated August 9, 2015

Applies to: Microsoft® Excel® 2010, 2013 and 2016 (Windows)

Most users at one time or another have printed an Excel worksheet and been less than pleased with the result (like printing 20 pages with one column). There are several strategies you can use to print what you want and avoid this kind of aggravation and wasted paper. The following tips for printing in Excel work in 2010 and 2013 but many apply to 2007 as well.

Recommended Articles: Discover the Hidden Power of Excel’s Custom Views and How to Hide Excel Worksheets [3 ways]

1. Preview before you print (including full screen preview)

If you can get into the habit of always previewing before you print, you can avoid printing worksheets that don’t print the way you want.

In Excel 2010 and 2013, when you click on the File tab on the Ribbon and choose Print, you’ll see a preview on the right. You can click on the next page icon on the bottom left of the preview screen to go from page to page.

For those who prefer to preview in full screen as in previous versions of Excel, you can add a Print Preview Full Screen button to your Quick Access Toolbar:

  1. Click the down arrow to the right of the Quick Access Toolbar.
  2. Choose More Commands. A dialog box appears. Note that the Quick Access Toolbar is selected on the left.
  3. Under Choose commands from: choose All Commands.
  4. Click the Print Preview Full Screen button in the list of buttons.
  5. Click Add >>.
  6. Click OK. The button will be added to the Quick Access Toolbar and you can click on it at any time to preview in full screen mode.

Custom Quick Access Toolbar dialog in Microsoft Excel.

2. Set a Print Area

One of the things I usually recommend is to set a print area before you print. This avoids printing random data that may have been entered somewhere else on the worksheet.

To set a print area:

  1. Select the cells you want to print.
  2. Click the Page Layout tab in the Ribbon.
  3. In the Page Setup group, click Print Area.
  4. From the drop-down menu, choose Set Print Area.

Set Print Area button on Ribbon in Microsoft Excel.

When you print the active worksheet, Excel assumes you want to print the specified print area in the active sheet unless you specify otherwise in the print settings. You can later clear the print area, by clicking on the Print Area button on the Page Layout tab and choosing Clear Print Area.

3. Print selected cells

As an alternative to setting the print area, you can choose to print selected cells:

  1. Select the cells you wish to print.
  2. Click the File tab in the Ribbon.
  3. Click Print.
  4. Under settings, in the first drop-down menu, choose Print Selection.
  5. Click Print.

4. Access the Page Setup dialog

With Microsoft Excel’s Ribbon in 2010 and 2013, users can specify page setup options on the Page Layout tab through a series of buttons or choose options in the Print pane. However, you can still access and use the familiar Page Setup dialog in 2 ways.

First, when you click the File tab in the Ribbon and choose Print, the Print pane appears. Page Setup appears as a hyperlink on the left side of the Print pane. Simply click the link to display the Page Setup dialog.

You can also access the Page Setup dialog through the Page Layout tab in the Ribbon:

  1. Click the Page Layout tab on the Ribbon.
  2. In the Page Setup group, click the dialog box launcher on the bottom right corner of the group. The Page Setup dialog box appears.

Page Setup dialog box launcher on Ribbon in Excel.

5. Scale to print

Users can specify scale options on the Page Layout tab by entering a scale amount or by choosing options in the Print pane for scaling.

You can also scale using Page Setup:

  1. Click the Page Layout tab in the Ribbon.
  2. In the Page Setup group, click the dialog box launcher on the bottom right corner of the group. The Page Setup dialog box appears.
  3. Click the Page tab.
  4. Enter a scale amount or choose Fit to Page options.
  5. Click OK. Be sure to preview the result.

Page Setup dialog box in Excel 2010.

6. Print titles on every page

With large worksheets, you may want to repeat titles on every page when printing.

To print titles on every page:

  1. Click the Page Layout tab on the Ribbon.
  2. Click the Print Titles button. The Page Setup dialog box appears with the Sheet tab selected.
  3. Click in the edit box for Rows to repeat at top.
  4. Click in the worksheet on the row(s) you wish to repeat. Be sure to click on the row heading not a cell. The rows will appear in the edit box as absolute references such as $2:$2.
  5. Click OK.

Print Titles in Page Setup dialog box in Microsoft Excel 2010.

7. Insert and remove manual page breaks

Microsoft Excel creates page breaks by default according to your Page Setup or print settings. However, you may want to insert manual page breaks if you want a page to break at a specific location.

To insert a manual page break (in Normal View):

  1. Select the row where you wish to insert a page break. The break will be added above this row.
  2. Click the Page Layout tab in the Ribbon.
  3. Click Breaks and choose Insert Page Break. A manual page break will be inserted above the selected row. It has longer dashes than an automatic page break.

To remove a manual page break (in Normal View):

  1. Select the row below the manual page break.
  2. Click the Page Layout tab in the Ribbon.
  3. Click Breaks and choose Remove Page Break.

8. Set Page Setup options for multiple sheets at one time

You can set up Page Setup options for multiple sheets at one time (such as headers and footers or page orientation):

  1. Click the first sheet tab.
  2. Control-click subsequent sheet tabs. Group will appear in the title bar.
  3. Click the Page Layout tab on the Ribbon.
  4. Click the Page Setup dialog box launcher on the bottom right corner of the Page Setup group.
  5. Set the desired options.
  6. Click OK.
  7. Click any sheet tab at the bottom to get out of the grouped state. You may need to right-click on a worksheet tab and choose Ungroup. Group should no longer appear in the title bar.

9. Print multiple sheets at one time

You can print multiple sheets at one time as well:

  1. Click the first sheet tab.
  2. Control-click subsequent sheet tabs. Group will appear in the title bar.
  3. Click the File tab in the Ribbon.
  4. Select Print.
  5. Under settings, choose Print Active Sheets.
  6. Click Print.
  7. Click any sheet tab at the bottom to get out of the grouped state. You may need to right-click on a worksheet tab and choose Ungroup. Group should no longer appear in the title bar.

10. Print multiple ranges at one time

To print multiple ranges on the active worksheet:

  1. Select the first range.
  2. Control-drag over subsequent ranges.
  3. Click the Page Layout tab on the Ribbon.
  4. Click Print Area and then Set Print Area.
  5. Click the File tab on the Ribbon and click on Print (active sheets should be selected). The preview appears on the right. Each range should print on a separate sheet.
  6. Click Print.

If you are familiar with naming, you could use the same strategy with several named ranges.

There are many more strategies for printing including using custom views. Try these out and hopefully you’ll have better results in your printed output.

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