How to Print Preview in Excel (Before Printing)

Applicable for Excel for Microsoft 365, Excel for the web, Excel 2021, Excel 2019, Excel 2016, Excel 2013, Excel 2010 and Excel 2007

Previewing a worksheet in Excel before printing allows you to check how your spreadsheet will appear on paper if you need an offline copy of the worksheet. This feature saves time, paper, and effort by enabling you to make any necessary adjustments before clicking ‘Print.’ 

What is Print Preview in Excel?

The print preview option is available in Excel 2010 on wards and now it has been named Print.

The Print Preview option can also specify which pages to print and to apply filters. In addition to reviewing formatting, formulas, comments, and other elements as they will appear on paper when printed, Print Preview also presents important options specific to printing, such as page orientation and scaling.

Step-by-Step Method of Previewing a Worksheet Before Printing

In this article, we will guide you through the steps and settings to preview a worksheet in Excel before printing.

Opening the Print Preview

Launch Microsoft Excel and open the workbook containing the worksheet you wish to preview. 

Step 1: Click on the sheet tab you want to preview before printing.

Step 2: Click on the “File” tab located in the top-left corner of the Excel window. The below window view will appear.

The backstage view of print preview

This will give you access to the Backstage view.

Note: An alternate way to open this view is to use the keyboard shortcut - Control + P.

Accessing Print Preview Options

In the Backstage view, select the “Print” option from the left-hand menu as shown in the screenshot

Select print option from the left hand menu

This will display various printing-related settings and options

Print related options and settings

On the right-hand side, you will see a live preview of your worksheet as it would appear when printed-(1)

Note: Unless you’re using a color printer, the preview will appear in black-and-white, even if there is color in your sheet(s).

We can see one more slab at the bottom, showing how many sheets it will print-(2)

The right hand menu of print preview option

Different Settings in Print Preview

Let’s understand the different components of print previews to adjust as per our needs:

Different components of print preview and their details

Page Layout: Use the “Page Layout” button in the lower-right corner of the preview pane to switch between Normal and Page Layout views

The Page Layout view shows how the worksheet will appear on paper, including headers, footers, and margins (refer to the screenshot)

page layout view
  1. Copies: Specify the number of copies to be printed
Specify the number of copies to be printed
  • Print Range: Select the range from the drop-down regarding the sheet(s) you would like to print
  • Active sheets: The sheet currently selected
  • Entire workbook: In case you want to print multiple worksheets together from a single Excel
The print sheet range
  • Print Selection: If you want to print only the selected area in the Excel. Specify the page numbers or use the arrows
If you want to print selected areas in the Excel
  • Orientation: Portrait Orientation: if you have data in more rows then you could select Portrait

Landscape Orientation: If you have more columns then Landscape will enable you to fit all rows or columns in one single page.

You can select the desired from the drop-down

And you want to select between landscape or portrait orientation
  • Scaling: Utilize the “Scaling” control to adjust the magnification level of the worksheet in the preview pane, allowing for a closer examination of specific details.

This will enable to shrink and fit all data in one page. You can select the options from the drop-down

If you want to shrink and fit all data in one page then you can select for scaling

Returning to the Worksheet View

After previewing your worksheet, you can exit the Print Preview mode by clicking on the “Close Print Preview/Arrow Symbol” button in the Excel window’s top-left corner.

How to return to worksheet view an exiting print preview
The image of actual data and Excel worksheet

This will take you back to the worksheet view, where you can make further changes or proceed with printing.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

  1. Neglecting to Verify Page Setup Settings – The proper page layout configuration is crucial when printing a worksheet on Excel. Failing to set the correct margins, page size, orientation, scaling, and gridlines can result in a poorly displayed printout.
  1. Overlooking Headers and Footers – While previewing a worksheet in Excel, it is common to disregard the header and footer sections. It is important to check the file name and page number before printing.
  1. Inadequate Column Widths – Adjusting column widths is a critical step. If a column is too narrow, its text may appear crowded on the printed document. Remember to adjust the column widths or change the orientation to accommodate all of the data.
  1. Failing to Hide Sensitive or Irrelevant Data – Before printing, it is essential to hide any rows or columns that contain confidential information or are unnecessary for the printed document.
  1. Disregarding Page Break Lines – Do not disregard page break lines; it is important to consider them before printing. Page break lines help find specific data that must appear on certain pages.
  1. Neglecting to Adjust Row Heights – Long text entries may not fit within a single cell, resulting in words being cut off or displayed on multiple lines. To avoid this issue, adjust row heights so that all text is properly displayed.
  1. Forgetting to Select Specific Cells for Printing – If only certain parts of the worksheet should be printed, ensure that the appropriate cells are selected before printing. This saves time and ensures that only the necessary parts are printed.
  1. Not Double-Checking the Data – It is important to verify the accuracy of all data, including formulas and functions, to ensure that the printed copy is free from errors.
  1. Save the data – Last but most importantly, save the data every time you make a change. This will ensure that the latest version is printed.

Previewing a worksheet in Excel before printing is a valuable practice that allows you to optimize the appearance of your spreadsheet.

Successfully following the steps mentioned in this article, you can confidently assess your worksheet’s formatting, layout, and content, ensuring that it meets your requirements before you commit to printing.

Taking advantage of the Print Preview feature in Excel will save you time, resources, and potential frustration caused by unintended printing errors.

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