Excel Basics:
Setup Sheet

Title: Jan's Illustrated Computer Literacy 101
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Spreadsheets can be really big. One way to print just exactly the cells that you want is with the Sheet tab in the Page Setup Dialog.

To print only part of a sheet, you set a Print Area. Only cells in this Print Area will actually print, no matter what you see on your screen. You would want to use the Page Break Preview to manage printing several pages, but this dialog is good for smaller jobs.

The Print Area could be the whole sheet, a range, a single cell, or even several ranges scattered over the sheet. Each separate range would print on a separate page.

If you move the cells in the Print Area, the cell references for Print Area will change to show the new location(s). Handy dandy!

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Before you start...

Project 1: Excel IntroTo subtopics

Project 2: Excel Basics  
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Project 3: Format & ArrangeTo subtopics

Project 4: Groups & FormulasTo subtopics

Project 5: DesignTo subtopics


Icon Step-by-Step 

Step-by-Step: Setup Sheet

 Icon Step-by-Step

What you will learn:

to set the print area from Page Setup dialog
to print the spreadsheet

Start with: Budget.xls (budget.xls from the resource files)

Open Page Setup | Sheet tab

  1. Open from your resource files your old friend budget.xls.
  2. If necessary, select  the sheet Budget and then open the Print Preview. [File | Print Preview or click Button: Print Preview the Print Preview button on the toolbar.] How many pages will it take to print this sheet?
  3. Close the Print Preview.
  4. Open the Page Setup dialog from the menu. [File | Page Setup...] 
  5. Click on the Sheet tab. This dialog sets options for how the selected worksheet will print. All checkboxes and text boxes should be blank at this time.

Dialog: PageSetup- Sheet tab

If you opened the Page Setup dialog from the Print Preview, some of your choices are not available!

Print Area: Keyboard

The Print Area is the cells which will be printed.  

  1. Type in the Print Area text box the range  a1:d4 .
  2. Print Preview with print area  = a1:d4Click on Text Button: Print Preview the Print Preview button. Not much will print! Only the cells in the range that you typed, a1:d4, which is just the titles and some labels.
  3. Click on Text Button: Close the Close button on the Preview window tool bar. Print Preview closes and you are back in Normal view. The dialog closed, too. Your Print Area is still a1:d4 and has a dashed border around it in Normal view now.

Print Area: Mouse

When you don't know the cell references, you can show Excel which cells you want to print by clicking or dragging in the sheet itself.

  1. Open the Page Setup dialog again to the Sheet tab.

  2. Click on Collapse Dialog button the New for 97 Collapse Dialog button at the right end of the Print Area text box. The dialog collapses to show just the text box. The button changes to Button: Restore Dialog the Restore Dialog button. The collapsed dialog will stay on top while you work in the spreadsheet itself.

     Dialog - Print Area collapsed

    The Collapse Dialog button Button: Collapse Dialog appears in all Excel dialog text boxes in which you can enter cell references. You will use it again!

  3. In budget.xls on the sheet Budget, drag from cell A1 to cell D13. This selects the Inflows for the first quarter of the year and the sheet titles. The absolute references appear in the text box. On the worksheet, the Print Area is surrounded by a dashed line.

    Print Area
    Selected area with cell references in Print Area text box.

  4. Click Button: Restore dialog the Restore Dialog button at the end of the text box to return the collapsed dialog to its original larger size.

    Warning Losing changes: If you close the dialog with the Button: Close Close button, all your changes in that dialog will be lost! You should always restore the dialog first and then click on the OK button to exit. (Unless, of course, you want to forget all about what you just did!)

  5. Click on Text Button: Print Preview the Print Preview button. Only the cells you selected show as printing.

    Print Preview of budget.xls with first quarter Inflows selected

    TipYou can select non-adjacent cells and ranges. Their range cell references in the Print area text box will be separated with a comma, like $E$3:$F$6, $G$15:$I:$89. Each range will print on a separate page.

    TipThe Print Area can also be set by first selecting on the sheet the ranges that you want to print and then choosing File | Print Area | Set Print Area.

  6. Click the Close button to close the Print Preview. 

Clear Print Area

If you don't want to restrict printing to your Print Area all the time, you need to clear out those cell references. There is an easy way!

  1. Menu: Fiile | Print Area | Clear Print AreaFrom the menu select  File  |  Print Area  |  Clear Print Area . You did it!
  2. Click on Button: Print Preview the Print Preview button to see that the whole sheet will print next time.

Other sections of the Sheet tab

Labels are the text that you typed into cells to explain what the rows and columns are about. If the Print Area won't fit on a single piece of paper, you will have one or more columns of data off on a page by itself. With no labels, this data won't make much sense.

In the Budget sheet shown below, the column labels are in row 4 (months of the year) and the row labels are in column A (category names).

 Headings and labels

Print titlesPrint Titles section:
The Page Setup dialog lets you choose to repeat rows and columns so that the labels will be on every page that it takes to print the sheet.

Dialog: Page Setup | Sheet tab | Print sectionPrint section:
Lets you choose some other print characteristics.

  • Gridlines are the gray lines that separate the cells. Checking the box will make them print.
  • Row and column headings are the row numbers and the column letters. Checking the box makes them print. Remember - Headings are not the same as the labels you may have created. 
  • Black and white will print the sheet without colors. 
  • Draft quality is a faster but not as crisp print quality. 
  • Comments are little notes that you can attach to cells. They can be printed all together at the end of the sheet, or within the sheet, or not at all.

Page Order section:

Dialog: Page Setup | Sheet | Page order sectionThe default is Down, then over. This describes how Excel will print the sections of a worksheet when it doesn't fit on one paper page - from the top of the worksheet down the left, then move over and start at the top again.Print direction: across then down and across again

The other option, Over, then down, prints the cells across the top of the sheet first and then moves down to print the next set of rows.

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Last updated: 02 May 2012