There’s often a tension in Microsoft Excel to fit as much information on a single screen or page as possible. The payoff can be huge, as you save wear-and-tear on your wrists from scrolling around or flipping pages.
In this article I’ll discuss two different approaches you can take to accomplish both. I’ll also share a rule of thumb I use to ensure that I don’t shrink printed content into an unreadable stage.
Maximizing Onscreen Content
Let’s first look at maximizing how much information you can fit on the screen. You may already use the Zoom Slider control at the bottom right-hand corner of Excel, as shown in Figure 1. You can use this to quickly increase or decrease the size of the content on your screen. However, I personally find myself bumping this slider accidentally when trying to access a scrollbar, so I turn the feature off:
- Right-click anywhere on Excel’s Status bar; which is the very bottom of the Excel screen.
- Clear the checkbox for Zoom Slider.
Figure 1: Turn off the Zoom Slider if you find that you click it accidentally.
One reason that I banish the Zoom Slider is that I can use a more elegant approach instead, as shown in Figure 2. For instance, let’s say that for a 12-month spreadsheet you can see January through November, but December and the Total column are slightly off the screen:
- Select the range you want to view on a single screen.
- Select the View tab on Excel’s ribbon.
- Select Zoom to Selection within the Zoom section of the ribbon.
You can now see January through the Total column on a single screen. If you accidentally shrink the text too much, click the 100% command in the Zoom section of the View menu.
Figure 2: Squeeze a couple more columns on screen by way of Excel’s Zoom to Selection command.
Maximizing Printed Content
We’ll now turn our attention to Excel’s Page Layout menu to maximize how much information we can fit onto a single printed page, as shown in Figure 3:
- Choose the Page Layout menu.
- Specify 1 Page for both the Height and Width in options in the Scale to Fit section.
Figure 3: The Height and Width options make it easy to fit Excel content into a single page.
When using these options make sure that the amount in the Scale field does not drop below 64%. In my experience a scale below that amount can cause eyestrain for most people reading documents that you produce. However, you may be able to use a couple of tricks to bump up the print scale if it’s at least in the neighborhood of 64%:
- Reduce column widths where possible.
- Adjust row heights if necessary.
- Adjust the margins of your document. One quick way is to choose the Narrow option under the Margins command in the Page Setup section of Excel’s Page Layout menu.
Clearly not every spreadsheet is well-suited to being fit onto a single page, so you can certainly adjust the settings as needed. If your worksheet has a lot of columns, another option is to change the page orientation as shown in Figure 4:
- Choose the Page Layout Menu.
- Click the Orientation command.
- Choose Landscape (or Portrait, as needed).
Figure 4: Sometimes a simple change in page orientation can fit more content on a page.
Additional options are available by way of the Backstage View in Excel 2010 and later, which is Microsoft’s jargon for what most users consider the Print Preview screen shown in Figure 5:
- Choose File, and then Print.
- Click the last command in the Settings section, which defaults to No Scaling. As shown in Figure 5, you can choose from these additional options:
- Fit All Rows on One Page. Select this option if your data spans many rows.
- Fit All Columns on One Page. Select this option if you’re working with a lot of columns.
- Fit Sheet on One Page. Select this option if your data spans many rows and columns.
Page orientation and margins can also be adjusted here, by way of the respective commands under Settings. If you need additional control over the settings, click the Page Setup link on this screen to display the traditional Page Setup dialog box. I’m fortunate to not need to print many documents these days, but when I do, I restore access to the classic full-screen print-preview that was available in Excel 2007 and earlier.
Figure 5: Microsoft’s name for this screen is the Backstage View.
David H. Ringstrom, CPA, is an author and nationally recognized instructor who teaches scores of webinars each year. His Excel courses are based on over 25 years of consulting and teaching experience. His mantra is “Either you work Excel, or it works you.” David offers spreadsheet and database consulting services nationwide.