Scale your spreadsheet to fit on one page when printing from Excel

Printing from Excel can be very frustrating, especially if your spreadsheet is too wide or too tall to fit on a single page.

You can use the Scaling option in Page Setup to set limits on how many pages wide and tall your document should be when you print it. The problem with that is that you can find your page fits onto one page, but becomes too small to read. Not only that, but Excel ignores any manual page breaks you've entered. This lesson explains how you can print your spreadsheet so it automatically scales to be one page wide without forcing the rows into a single page.

Scaling your spreadsheet when printing

You can use the Scaling option in Page Setup to set limits on how many pages wide and tall your document should be when you print it.

If you're using Excel 2010 

  1. Click the Page Layout tab.
  2. Set the Scale to Fit options for Width and Height to the values you want.
  3. Print your spreadsheet.

If you're using Excel 2007 and earlier for PC, or Excel for Mac 2008 or 2011

  1. Open Page Layout
  2. In Excel 2007, click the Page Layout tab, then click the small arrow in the bottom right corner of the Page Setup group (this also works for Excel 2010 as an alternative to the instructions above)
  3. In earlier versions of Excel, and for Excel 2008 and 2011 for Mac, click File, then Page Setup.
  4. Enter the number of pages wide and tall you want your spreadsheet to be when printed. For example, you may choose to set your spreadsheet to be 1 page wide and 2 pages tall when printed.
  5. Print your spreadsheet.

The problem with this approach is that you can find your spreadsheet is scaled down too far and becomes too small to read. Not only that, but Excel ignores any manual page breaks you've entered.

Scaling an Excel spreadsheet to a specific number of pages

Suppose you want your Excel spreadsheet to print out one page wide, but you don't mind how many pages tall the print out is. It could also be that you have horizontal page breaks that you want to keep when you print your spreadsheet.

Scaling to Fit in Excel 2010 (method 1) 

  1. Click the Page Layout tab.
  2. Set the Scale to Fit option for Width to be 1 page.
  3. Set the Scale to Fit option for Height to be Automatic.
  4. Print your spreadsheet.

Scaling to Fit in Excel 2010 (method 2)

  1. Choose File > Print
  2. Choose Fit all columns on one page
  3. Print your spreadsheet

Both methods will scale your spreadsheet so it prints out exactly one page wide. The number of pages it prints will depend on how many pages tall the scaled down spreadsheet is. Excel will ignore any vertical page breaks you've inserted when you do this, but will keep your manual horizontal page breaks.

Of course, if you want the spreadsheet to print out just 1 page tall, and as many pages across as it needs, you'd reverse the values in steps 2 and 3 of method 1 above.

Scaling to fit in other versions of Excel (PC and Mac)

You can get the same result when printing from other versions of Excel for both PC and Mac. This tip works in Excel 2010 as well, but the instructions above are an easier way to do it.

  1. Open Page Setup.
  2. Click the Page tab.
  3. Click the Fit To option.
  4. Enter 1 for the number of pages wide.
  5. Delete the value for the number of pages tall and leave it blank.

 

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Comments on this lesson

Excel Printing

I am quite a savvy Excel user....however, I can't for the life of me get my spreadsheet to print properly on one page. It is printing in about 60-70% of the page, no matter how I set up the margins or set to print 1 page by 1 page. Basically it looks as though there is a bottom margin of 1"+ and a right margin of 1"+. (but top and left are small, as i set them at .25") The data is not too tall or too wide to fit more appropriately. I have cleared the print are and set it again, changed margins, changed to print 1 by 1 page, i have even tried to adjust the excel chosen % from 55 to 56 and it immediately jumps to two pages.

I'm having this same problem

I'm having this same problem and can't for the life of me figure out what's going on... I have all the setting where they should be and even the print preview is showing everything normal... but when I print, it comes out "big" and only the top left quarter of the document prints...

Excel 2013

Unfortunately Excel 2013 doesn't "agree" when I make these adjustments. It still forces part of my document on to a second page. I thought new would be better, NOT !!

Excel page prints too small

Great ideas on fixing this annoying problem; unfortunately, none of them work. Page still prints very small in the center of page, or prints on several pages. But, it's Microsoft, so what do you expect.

There's always a reason it won't work!

Hi Otto

Sounds like it's working as designed, except Excel is getting confused about what you want to print and including cells that you don't want to include in the printout.

There are a couple of possibilities that might be causing you to have problems:

  • You have manual page breaks in your spreadsheet. This will cause the technique outlined here to fail.
  • You have cells outside the range you want to print that contain data. These are included when Excel determines the range of cells that should be printed, causing your spreadsheet to appear very small.
  • Sometimes cells look empty but aren't so they are included when printing your spreadsheet. This can happen when you've entered data into a cell and then deleted it later. If you had formatted the cell and then only deleted the values in the cell, then Excel can be confused and think that the cell is still part of the range it should print. 

The easiest way to test the second and third scenarios is to select just the cells you want to print. When the Print options appear, make sure you're printing the selected cells only. This should achieve what you're intending. If it does, then you need to review your spreadsheet for data that should be excluded when printing.

Another way you can test for the presence of extra or "empty cells that Excel thinks aren't empty" is to press CTRL+SHIFT+END. This will locate the last cell in the worksheet that Excel recognises as part of your working area. If this cell is way outside the range you are trying to print then you may want to reset this "last active cell".  My solution in this case is usually to manually delete empty rows and columns around my spreadsheet that are within the active range but contain no data. This article from Microsoft goes into more detail.

Let me know how you get on!

Regards

David

Worksheet vs Print Preview

Worksheet and print preview do not agree. The worksheet will add an extra empty line when the text is close to another cell while print preview sees it as ok when manually setting the position of the gridline.