If your printing world was limited to trips to and fro Print Preview and Page Setup, you have a whole new little world ahead of you called Print Area. You may need to print your work, a list, or some data and if there are bunches of it, some organization is in order and what comes out on the paper needs to be in your control.
That is not impossible at all; setting the print area is what helps us control what goes on with paper and also what doesn’t go on paper and what does! We can all admit that sounds much better than hitting the print button and fretting later. If you have ever dealt with giant datasets before, you know what printing them blindly can do. We’d rather not say but we will help you with sensible printing by setting the print area.
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What is Print Area in Excel
The print area is a range of cells that will be printed on a single sheet of paper once designated as the print area. You can also set multiple print areas and each area will be printed on a separate sheet of paper. The print area is denoted by gray outlines which are slightly more prominent than gridlines.
Setting the print area is particularly useful if you want to print a selection and not the whole worksheet or if you want to divide the whole sheet into sectioned bits to be printed.
Creating a print area is as easy as selecting a range of cells and setting them as a print area. The print area can be set, added, modified, and cleared and that’s what you will learn in this tutorial.
For the sample sheet, to be used in the tutorial, we will hide the gridlines so you can see the print area lines more clearly.
We have also added extra columns and rows and will include them in the print area so you can distinctly see the print area lines without the borders overshadowing them.
How to Set the Print Area in Excel Worksheets
To set the print area, you select the area and hit the Set Print Area command; that’s it. You will know the print area is set when you see the gray lines outlining your selection.
Here we have the steps:
- Select the area or cells on the worksheet that are to be printed.
- Head to the Page Layout In the Page Setup section, click on the Print Area button and select Set Print Area from the drop-down.
That sets your chosen area as the print area which you can see from the gray lines:
You can confirm the print area from the Print Preview (press Ctrl + P) :
After setting your print area as wanted, you can move on to printing it.
How to Set Multiple Print Areas in Excel
Setting multiple print areas again is only a matter of selecting the cells but this time in groups. Just the way you would usually make multiple selections by holding down the Ctrl key and selecting with the left mouse button. Let’s see the steps for this:
- Make the first selection of cells for printing.
- Hold down the Ctrl key and make the next selection with the left mouse button. Make all subsequent selections the same way.
- Now set the selections as print areas from the Page Layout tab > Page Setup section > Print Area button > Set Print Area
These steps will set the selected multiple areas as print areas, each print area denoted by the gray outlines:
Each print area will be printed on a separate page:
For the example above, you can see we have spaced each table with 3 rows in between. We have spaced them because if it weren’t for those extra rows, even if the selections were made separately but were adjacent ranges, the selections will be considered as a single print area. E.g. the following tables have been selected separately but will be included in the same print area as the ranges are adjacent:
View your Excel Print Areas
To view all the print areas set in a worksheet, you can head to the Page Break Preview where the sheet will be shrunk to 60% and the print areas will be delineated with strong blue lines. Let us highlight where you can find the Page Break Preview:
Straight up, you can click on the Page Break Preview icon on the status bar at the bottom of the workbook.
Or you can go to the View tab and select the Page Break Preview button from the Workbook Views section.
Here is what the Page Break Preview of our example sheet looks like. You can see that all 4 tables have their own print areas and will be printed on separate pages:
Note that you can also adjust the print areas in Page Break Preview by clicking and dragging the blue lines.
Recommended Reading: How To Print Gridlines In Excel
How to Modify the Print Area in Excel
There are quite a few ways to modify the print area in Excel. Let’s go through them one by one.
Modifying Print Area by Print Area Options
Right from where the print area is set in the first place, there is an option to add to the print area after making an adjacent selection. Let’s continue from the example below where we have already one print area:
- Select the area you want to add to the existing print area. The new selection must be adjacent to the existing print area.
- On the Page Layout tab, in the Page Setup section, select the Print Area button then the Add to Print Area. The Add to Print Area option only shows if there is at least one print area set on the sheet.
Now the new selection is added to the print area, notable from the gray lines:
If the new area that you want to add to the print area is not adjacent to the existing print area, the new one will be added as a separate print area. E.g., the following selection will not be added to the existing print area because there is a gap of one row between the two areas:
The above selection will be added as a separate print area.
Modifying Print Area in Page Break Preview
Another way to add to the print area is to adjust the page breaks in Page Break Preview. Here’s how:
- To enter the Page Break Preview, click on the last of the 3 small icons on the status bar situated at the bottom of the worksheet.
- In the Page Break Preview, you can see all the print areas of the worksheet.
- Since we are aiming to add the second table to the first print area, we will adjust the bottom page break and drag it to include the second table.
And that does the job of adding the new area to the print area:
Modifying Print Area by Using Name Manager
The third way of editing the print area is using the Name Manager. This is because when a print area is set, the range of the print area is automatically named as Print_Area.
Being a named range, the print area can hence be adjusted using the Name Manager. Here’s how to do it:
- Open the Name Manager by Formulas tab > Defined Names group > Name Manager (or press Ctrl + F3).
- Click on the relevant named range to edit it.
- In our example, we have tables 1 and 2 as separate print areas. To join them into one print area, we can change the cell references to make A1:G22 a single range and, therefore, a single print area. Make the changes to the selected range.
- Click on the checkmark on the left of the field to apply the changes.
- Click Close.
See below that the 2 separate print areas have been merged as one from the changes made in the Name Manager.
Modifying Print Area via Page Setup Dialog Box
The Page Setup dialog box can also be used to modify the print area. You can enter the cell references or select the ranges for the print areas. Below are the steps.
- To open the Page Setup dialog box, go to the Page Layout tab and click on the dialog launcher in the bottom-right corner of the Page Setup
- Navigate to the Sheet Tab.
- The Print area field is all that is relevant for editing the print area. Multiple print areas on a sheet are separated by commas. As for our example, we are editing the print area by adding table 3 as the third print area.
- In the Print area field, enter a comma to add another print area.
- You can manually add the cell references for table 3 i.e. A24:G31 or you can select the table from the sheet after adding the comma. While selecting, the cell references will automatically be fed into the Print area field:
- When done, click OK.
Using the Page Setup dialog has added table 3 in our third print area:
How to Clear the Print Area in Excel
Clearing the print area here means clearing all the set print areas from the worksheet and it’s done in a few simple clicks:
- From the Page Layout tab, in the Page Setup section, select the Print Area From the drop-down, select Clear Print Area.
And that clears the print area set by us:
How to Force Excel to Ignore Print Area
Forcing Excel to ignore print area is another way of clearing the print area. Here’s what to do:
- Press Ctrl + P to go to Print Preview.
- Under the Settings section, click on the Print Active Sheets button and select Ignore Print Area from the list.
You can immediately see in the Print Preview that the set print area has been ignored and reset:
Selecting the Print Area
When you set the print area, whether single area or multiple areas, the print areas automatically become a named range as Print_Area. Selecting this name in the box will select the print area on the worksheet.
- Click on the small arrow on the Name Box to open the list of names.
- Select Print_Area from the list.
This will select the print area on the worksheet whether it is a single range or multiple ranges.
Recommended Reading: How To Print Comments In Excel
Print Area Issues and Quick Fixes
Not everything goes to plan and that’s why we have some troubleshooters for you to fall back on. Here are a few issues you may face while working on print area, with their respective fixes.
Cannot set print area in Excel
Problem: The print area is something other than what you’re trying to set including confusing ranges.
Fix: Start by clearing the print area and then trying to set the print area again.
Not all columns are printed
Problem: All the columns are included in the same print area but are being printed on separate pages.
Fix: Either the number of columns or the column width is the trouble here; you can only fit so much on a paper. See if you can decrease the width of some columns, hide or remove some columns or select the Fit All Columns on One Page option (Print Preview, Settings section, last button which is for scaling options, Fit All Columns on One Page option).
The print area gets printed on several pages
Problem: Your worksheet is not being printed on one single page but multiple pages.
Fix: Check if the print area is set to one page; non-adjacent ranges are individual print areas and will be printed on different pages.
If the issue is still unresolved, it could be the paper size (all the data doesn’t fit on one page). Try decreasing the margins to fit as much as you can on the paper (Print Preview, Settings section, second-last button which is for margins). You can also choose Fit Sheet on One Page from the scaling options button under the margins button.
Now we are out of the tutorial area. So that’s what we’ve got for you on setting print area in Excel. We had some easy peasy approaches to getting your workaround print area because come on, we can’t waste time and paper on blind printing. There is always more from Excel town rumbling to come your way; we’ll make sure it passes through us before it gets to you!