Fitting Excel Spreadsheets to the Printed Page

Like most Excel users, you’ve probably experienced a situation where you’ve attempted to print an Excel spreadsheet only to find that your columns extend beyond the “printable” boundaries of the page. In most cases, this becomes obvious when the pages are output – the first page appears, followed by the next, followed by any of the right-most columns that wouldn’t “fit”. If the worksheet your trying to print contains hundreds of rows, this is more than just a simple annoyance, and trying to line up all of those misprinted pages to get the rows together is an exercise in frustration.

The obvious solution, and one that most users are familiar with, is to change the orientation of the printed page from portrait to landscape. This doesn’t always solve the problem, especially in cases where even landscape can’t quite make all of the columns fit. There are alternative solutions to this Excel printing woe, however.

One is to try to resize all of the fonts in your worksheet, but this isn’t always practical. As an alternative, I generally suggest one of two things – either scale down the size of the printed worksheet, or begin playing with your spreadsheet’s margin settings.

Scaling down a printed document in Excel is easy. Prior to printing, click File > Print Preview to see how “close” to fitting your document is right now. Click the Setup button, and then choose Portrait or Landscape as your Orientation as appropriate. Next, use the Adjust option in the Scaling section to select a new value, for example 90%. Click OK and return to the Print Preview to check whether everything fits, and then readjust the Setup Scaling value as appropriate. Unless your spreadsheet columns are far too wide to fit on a single page, you should be able to scale the document and make it fit in a readable printed format without too much effort. Barring that, it’s time to start adjusting margins or upping the ante to a larger paper size like 8.5×14 or larger.

Author: Dan DiNicolo

Dan DiNicolo is a freelance author, consultant, trainer, and the managing editor of He is the author of the CCNA Study Guide found on this site, as well as many books including the PC Magazine titles Windows XP Security Solutions and Windows Vista Security Solutions. Click here to contact Dan.