How to Preview a Worksheet before Printing in MS Excel

Unlike MS Word, an MS Excel printout seldom looks the same as it is on the screen in front of you. 

For one, you may have a large dataset, and need to know whether everything will fit onto one page, or not, and if so, where the print margins are.

Print Preview helps you understand the layout of your printout, by providing a visual presentation of how your printed copy will look like.

Using this feature, you can customize your printout as per your requirements. You may need to scale the data, shrink the width, or hide a particular row or column to get the desired results.

2 Methods to preview a worksheet before printing in Microsoft Excel:

  • Use the Print Preview option
  • Use the Page Break Preview option

Let us begin.

Method #1: Use the Print Preview Option

This method is a quick way to see how a simple printout may look like, if it is a small dataset.

Step #1: Open your workbook

Open the workbook on your laptop or desktop that you want to print.

Step #2: Navigate to the File Tab

Click on the File Tab, scroll to the print option and then click on Print.

Alternatively, you can use the keyboard shortcut: Ctrl + P where you press the Ctrl button on your keyboard, and then the letter P.

A Print window will open.

Step #3: Check your Print Preview

On the right-hand side of the pane, you can see how your workbook will look after printing.

This helps you to customize your print as you desire. If you print the file as it is, you will get a 2-page printout as the preview shows.

Step #4: Customize your printing

Use the options available to get the desired printout.

In the Print pane, you will see options like:

Page Collation – Pages will be printed in the same sequence as they will be used. If you print more than one copy of a multi-page document, it would print one complete set at a time.

Page Orientation – The page will be printed in either landscape or portrait orientation, which means with landscape orientation the longer side of the document will be the bottom edge of the paper. With portrait, the shorter side of the page will be the bottom edge.

Custom Page Size – Several page sizes are available for selection, such as A4, A3, US Letter and US Legal. Choose the page size that matches the paper in your printer.

Margins – You can choose between normal, wide, narrow and custom, which means the wide edge around your printed area will be bigger or smaller. 

Scaling – Decide whether you want your printout to fit on one page, or flow over several pages.

Page Collation, Page Orientation, Custom Page Size, Margins and Scaling will help you get the printout as desired.

Step #5: Final Preview

After all the changes have been made, you can check your preview again and print your workbook.

Method #2: Use the Page Break Preview Option

This method is preferred if you have a large dataset with multiple columns and rows. You can see what will print on which page, and change the print areas accordingly.

Step #1: Open your workbook

Open the workbook on your laptop or desktop that you want to print.

Step #2: Navigate to Page Break Preview

Click on the View tab in the top menu bar to change the ribbon.

In the Workbook Views section, click on the Page Break Preview icon. 

When there are multiple rows and columns in a sheet, then Page Break Preview will show how many rows and columns will get printed on each page.

As you will see in our example below, the last two columns will be printed on a separate page, which is not ideal.

Step #3: Adjust the layout

To adjust the pages, click on a blue dotted line and drag it to the best position. 

Do the same for the horizontal blue line, so that the print break does not cut off information. 

Step #4: Make further adjustments

In the View ribbon, click on the Page Layout icon.

Further adjustments can be made here, such as;

  • Adding a header
  • Adding a footer
  • Adjusting the margins
  • Whether gridlines should be printed or not. 

Step #5: Final Preview

After all the changes have been made, you can check your preview again by clicking on the Page Break Preview icon and print your workbook.

Additionally, you can learn ‘How to insert a page break in MS Excel’.


No more messy printouts and no more paper wastage! Preview before you print your document and get the best results. 

If you have a large spreadsheet, preview what the printout will look like and adjust the page breaks before you print, to ensure a logical and comprehensive printout, with no wasted paper.

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