Print like a pro from Microsoft Excel

Printing from Microsoft Excel may seem like an obvious operation, with no need of further explanation-just press Command-P, Return, and head to the printer to pick up your document.

The reality, though, is that Excel’s print function is quite powerful, but you have to do a bit of digging to take full advantage of its capabilities. Here are just a few of the options open to you when you print with Excel.

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Much of the Excel print dialog (File -> Print) looks familiar; it offers standard OS X print features such as Presets, PDF options, Preview, and Supplies. There are some Excel-specific features, though, and here’s how to take advantage of them.

Print what you want

Use the Print What section radio buttons to control your output. You can print a Selection (which will typically be one cell, unless you intentionally selected a range before opening the Print dialog), Active Sheets, or Entire Workbook. If you created a print range, choosing Active Sheets will show just that print range in the preview area.

You can manipulate Excel’s print scaling control to make your spreadsheets conform to your pages.

Control length

Use the Scaling selection to control the size of your printout. If you check the Fit To box, Excel will try to fit everything onto one page-shrinking both width and height as required to make it fit.

What I often do, though, is scale just one dimension, by entering a really large number of pages in the other dimension. For example, you can make sure your output is scaled to fit just the width of your paper by setting the “page(s) wide” box to 1, and the “page(s) tall” box to 999.

Repeat rows or columns

If your document is extra-wide, or extra-long, you might want to repeat some rows (which may contain data labels) at the top or edge of every page.

Click Page Setup in the Print dialog, then go to the Sheet tab.

Click in the Rows or Columns boxes in the Print Titles section, then click on the worksheet to select a row or column (hold Shift and click for multiple rows or columns).

Just click in the spreadsheet to select one or multiple rows that you want repeated on each page.

Headers and footers

Click Page Setup from the Print dialog, then click on the Header/Footer tab to set your sheet’s headers and footers.

You can pick from predefined headers and footers via the pop-up menu, or you can create your own by clicking the Customize buttons. I usually make sure the full path and file are included somewhere, just so I can be sure the version I’ve printed matches the one I’m looking at onscreen.

You can create customized headers and footers in Excel’s Page Setup dialog.

These are just a few of the interesting options hiding in Excel’s Print dialog, but there are plenty more. Go ahead and experiment to see what works best for your needs.

[Macworld senior contributor Rob Griffiths is Master of Ceremonies at Many Tricks.]

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