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Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Excel Tip: Controlling what is printed from a sheet

One of the challenges that many Excel users face, is ensuring that the printed version of a spreadsheet looks as good as it did on the screen.

There are a few simple things that you need to know to help to organise what actually gets printed and how it is spread across pages.

I will cover the first of these today, and revisit some of the others in future posts.

Today we will look at how to determine how much of the sheet is actually printed.

Left to its own devices, Excel will print all of the used area on the sheet, Specifically, it will print the whole area from cell A1 to the rightmost column and the last row that are not empty.

This may not be what is required, and it is easy to change. Simply highlight the area that you do want to print, then go to the Page Layout ribbon, click the Print Area icon, and select Set Print Area.

You can even select multiple ranges (holding down the Control key, while you select the subsequent ranges) which Excel will print on different pages.

For example, you may have a Profit & Loss and Balance Sheet alongside each other on one worksheet. Just highlight the area of the Profit and Loss (say A1:H100) and then hold down the Control key while selecting the Balance Sheet range (say J1:P80) and Set Print Area as described above.

Once a Print Area has been set in this way, you can see (and edit it) using the Name Manager on the Formulas ribbon. You will see all of the Print Areas in the workbook listed there and (scope to their particular worksheet). You can then edit these ranges like any other.

You can even make them a dynamic range using functions like OFFSET and INDEX, so that the area that gets printed is determined by values in the workbook.

A particularly useful technique is to combine this ability to set a dynamic Print Area with a formula to determine the last row of data. I explained a formula to do this in this earlier post.

Let's say we put this formula in a cell that we name LastRow.

If we want the print area to be columns A to J but the height of the print area to flex to the amount of rows occupied, we can enter the following as the Print Area (in the Names Manager):


This will print a range starting at A1, with a height of LastRow, and a width of 10 (A to J is 10 columns).

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