How To Set Print Area In Excel (+ Modify & Clear Print Area)

If your printing world was limited to trips to and fro Print Preview and Page Setup, you have a whole new little world ahead of you called Print Area. You may need to print your work, a list, or some data and if there are bunches of it, some organization is in order and what comes out on the paper needs to be in your control.

That is not impossible at all; setting the print area is what helps us control what goes on with paper and also what doesn’t go on paper and what does! We can all admit that sounds much better than hitting the print button and fretting later. If you have ever dealt with giant datasets before, you know what printing them blindly can do. We’d rather not say but we will help you with sensible printing by setting the print area.

How To Set Print Area In Excel

What is Print Area in Excel

The print area is a range of cells that will be printed on a single sheet of paper once designated as the print area. You can also set multiple print areas and each area will be printed on a separate sheet of paper. The print area is denoted by gray outlines which are slightly more prominent than gridlines.

Setting the print area is particularly useful if you want to print a selection and not the whole worksheet or if you want to divide the whole sheet into sectioned bits to be printed.

Creating a print area is as easy as selecting a range of cells and setting them as a print area. The print area can be set, added, modified, and cleared and that’s what you will learn in this tutorial.

Example

For the sample sheet, to be used in the tutorial, we will hide the gridlines so you can see the print area lines more clearly.

We have also added extra columns and rows and will include them in the print area so you can distinctly see the print area lines without the borders overshadowing them.

Print Area in Excel Example

How to Set the Print Area in Excel Worksheets

To set the print area, you select the area and hit the Set Print Area command; that’s it. You will know the print area is set when you see the gray lines outlining your selection.

Here we have the steps:

  • Select the area or cells on the worksheet that are to be printed.
  • Head to the Page Layout In the Page Setup section, click on the Print Area button and select Set Print Area from the drop-down.

How to Set the Print Area in Excel Worksheets

That sets your chosen area as the print area which you can see from the gray lines:

How to Set the Print Area in Excel Worksheets

You can confirm the print area from the Print Preview (press Ctrl + P) :

How to Set the Print Area in Excel Worksheets

After setting your print area as wanted, you can move on to printing it.

How to Set Multiple Print Areas in Excel

Setting multiple print areas again is only a matter of selecting the cells but this time in groups. Just the way you would usually make multiple selections by holding down the Ctrl key and selecting with the left mouse button. Let’s see the steps for this:

  • Make the first selection of cells for printing.

How to Set Multiple Print Areas in Excel

  • Hold down the Ctrl key and make the next selection with the left mouse button. Make all subsequent selections the same way.

How to Set Multiple Print Areas in Excel

  • Now set the selections as print areas from the Page Layout tab > Page Setup section > Print Area button > Set Print Area

How to Set Multiple Print Areas in Excel

These steps will set the selected multiple areas as print areas, each print area denoted by the gray outlines:

How to Set Multiple Print Areas in Excel

Each print area will be printed on a separate page:

How to Set Multiple Print Areas in Excel

 Note:

For the example above, you can see we have spaced each table with 3 rows in between. We have spaced them because if it weren’t for those extra rows, even if the selections were made separately but were adjacent ranges, the selections will be considered as a single print area. E.g. the following tables have been selected separately but will be included in the same print area as the ranges are adjacent:

How to Set Multiple Print Areas in Excel

View your Excel Print Areas

To view all the print areas set in a worksheet, you can head to the Page Break Preview where the sheet will be shrunk to 60% and the print areas will be delineated with strong blue lines. Let us highlight where you can find the Page Break Preview:

Straight up, you can click on the Page Break Preview icon on the status bar at the bottom of the workbook.

View your Excel Print Areas

Or you can go to the View tab and select the Page Break Preview button from the Workbook Views section.

View your Excel Print Areas

Here is what the Page Break Preview of our example sheet looks like. You can see that all 4 tables have their own print areas and will be printed on separate pages:

View your Excel Print Areas

Note that you can also adjust the print areas in Page Break Preview by clicking and dragging the blue lines.

Recommended Reading: How To Print Gridlines In Excel

How to Modify the Print Area in Excel

There are quite a few ways to modify the print area in Excel. Let’s go through them one by one.

Modifying Print Area by Print Area Options

Right from where the print area is set in the first place, there is an option to add to the print area after making an adjacent selection. Let’s continue from the example below where we have already one print area:

Modifying Print Area by Print Area Options

  • Select the area you want to add to the existing print area. The new selection must be adjacent to the existing print area.

Modifying Print Area by Print Area Options

  • On the Page Layout tab, in the Page Setup section, select the Print Area button then the Add to Print Area. The Add to Print Area option only shows if there is at least one print area set on the sheet.

Modifying Print Area by Print Area Options

Now the new selection is added to the print area, notable from the gray lines:

Modifying Print Area by Print Area Options

If the new area that you want to add to the print area is not adjacent to the existing print area, the new one will be added as a separate print area. E.g., the following selection will not be added to the existing print area because there is a gap of one row between the two areas:

Modifying Print Area by Print Area Options

The above selection will be added as a separate print area.

Modifying Print Area in Page Break Preview

Another way to add to the print area is to adjust the page breaks in Page Break Preview. Here’s how:

  • To enter the Page Break Preview, click on the last of the 3 small icons on the status bar situated at the bottom of the worksheet.

Modifying Print Area in Page Break Preview

  • In the Page Break Preview, you can see all the print areas of the worksheet.
  • Since we are aiming to add the second table to the first print area, we will adjust the bottom page break and drag it to include the second table.

Modifying Print Area in Page Break Preview

And that does the job of adding the new area to the print area:

Modifying Print Area in Page Break Preview

Modifying Print Area by Using Name Manager

The third way of editing the print area is using the Name Manager. This is because when a print area is set, the range of the print area is automatically named as Print_Area.

Modifying Print Area by Using Name Manager

Being a named range, the print area can hence be adjusted using the Name Manager. Here’s how to do it:

  • Open the Name Manager by Formulas tab > Defined Names group > Name Manager (or press Ctrl + F3).

Modifying Print Area by Using Name Manager

  • Click on the relevant named range to edit it.

Modifying Print Area by Using Name Manager

  • In our example, we have tables 1 and 2 as separate print areas. To join them into one print area, we can change the cell references to make A1:G22 a single range and, therefore, a single print area. Make the changes to the selected range.

Modifying Print Area by Using Name Manager

  • Click on the checkmark on the left of the field to apply the changes.
  • Click Close.

See below that the 2 separate print areas have been merged as one from the changes made in the Name Manager.

Modifying Print Area by Using Name Manager

Modifying Print Area via Page Setup Dialog Box

The Page Setup dialog box can also be used to modify the print area. You can enter the cell references or select the ranges for the print areas. Below are the steps.

  • To open the Page Setup dialog box, go to the Page Layout tab and click on the dialog launcher in the bottom-right corner of the Page Setup

Modifying Print Area by via Page Setup Dialog Box

  • Navigate to the Sheet Tab.

Modifying Print Area by via Page Setup Dialog Box

  • The Print area field is all that is relevant for editing the print area. Multiple print areas on a sheet are separated by commas. As for our example, we are editing the print area by adding table 3 as the third print area.
  • In the Print area field, enter a comma to add another print area.
  • You can manually add the cell references for table 3 i.e. A24:G31 or you can select the table from the sheet after adding the comma. While selecting, the cell references will automatically be fed into the Print area field:

Modifying Print Area by via Page Setup Dialog Box

  • When done, click OK.

Using the Page Setup dialog has added table 3 in our third print area:

Modifying Print Area by via Page Setup Dialog Box

How to Clear the Print Area in Excel

Clearing the print area here means clearing all the set print areas from the worksheet and it’s done in a few simple clicks:

  • From the Page Layout tab, in the Page Setup section, select the Print Area From the drop-down, select Clear Print Area.

How to Clear the Print Area in Excel

And that clears the print area set by us:

How to Clear the Print Area in Excel

How to Force Excel to Ignore Print Area

Forcing Excel to ignore print area is another way of clearing the print area. Here’s what to do:

  • Press Ctrl + P to go to Print Preview.
  • Under the Settings section, click on the Print Active Sheets button and select Ignore Print Area from the list.

How to Force Excel to Ignore Print Area

You can immediately see in the Print Preview that the set print area has been ignored and reset:

How to Force Excel to Ignore Print Area

Selecting the Print Area

When you set the print area, whether single area or multiple areas, the print areas automatically become a named range as Print_Area. Selecting this name in the box will select the print area on the worksheet.

  • Click on the small arrow on the Name Box to open the list of names.
  • Select Print_Area from the list.

Selecting the Print Area

This will select the print area on the worksheet whether it is a single range or multiple ranges.

Selecting the Print Area

Recommended Reading: How To Print Comments In Excel

Print Area Issues and Quick Fixes

Not everything goes to plan and that’s why we have some troubleshooters for you to fall back on. Here are a few issues you may face while working on print area, with their respective fixes.

Cannot set print area in Excel

Problem: The print area is something other than what you’re trying to set including confusing ranges.

Fix: Start by clearing the print area and then trying to set the print area again.

Not all columns are printed

Problem: All the columns are included in the same print area but are being printed on separate pages.

Fix: Either the number of columns or the column width is the trouble here; you can only fit so much on a paper. See if you can decrease the width of some columns, hide or remove some columns or select the Fit All Columns on One Page option (Print Preview, Settings section, last button which is for scaling options, Fit All Columns on One Page option).

The print area gets printed on several pages

Problem: Your worksheet is not being printed on one single page but multiple pages.

Fix: Check if the print area is set to one page; non-adjacent ranges are individual print areas and will be printed on different pages.

If the issue is still unresolved, it could be the paper size (all the data doesn’t fit on one page). Try decreasing the margins to fit as much as you can on the paper (Print Preview, Settings section, second-last button which is for margins). You can also choose Fit Sheet on One Page from the scaling options button under the margins button.

Now we are out of the tutorial area. So that’s what we’ve got for you on setting print area in Excel. We had some easy peasy approaches to getting your workaround print area because come on, we can’t waste time and paper on blind printing. There is always more from Excel town rumbling to come your way; we’ll make sure it passes through us before it gets to you!

About Ankit Kaul

Well, I am Ankit Kaul, the founder of Excel Trick. I am a die-hard fan of Microsoft Excel and have been working with spreadsheets for the past 10+ years. My only aim is to turn you guys into 'Excel Geeks'. Check out more about me here.