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How to Fit to Page in Excel

How to fit to page in excel

Today we’ll be going over how to Fit to Page in Microsoft Excel to get all content onto a page and fit correctly.

When writing a document using Microsoft Word (or indeed any other word processing application), we usually don’t worry too much about how the text wraps onto ensuing lines and let the program take care of this automatically for us.

When it comes time to print out that document, we can tweak margins and font sizes and get it to fit to page as we want it.

Because of the nature of the content, the situation is quite different when it comes to spreadsheets, which are usually made up of data organized into a matrix of rows and columns, and where every row signifies a unit of information.

It therefore does not make sense or it may not be desirable to split rows across adjacent pages when the worksheet is printed.

There may also be occasions where you want your small worksheet to fit on a single page.

We’ll be taking a look at what options Excel gives us to achieve the best possible fit to page for a few different cases.

How to Fit to Page in Excel

We’ll be using the above worksheet, which is a fairly large contact list spanning 12 columns and over 500 rows.

Page Breaks

Before we start however, we first need to be able to tell where the page breaks occur.

Page breaks signify the start of a new, printable page, and can occur across and down a worksheet.

A page break across a document, would be inserted if its width is more than the width of the printable area of the physical paper size on which it is being printed.

Similarly, a page break down a document is inserted when the length is more than the length of the printable area.

Page breaks can also be arbitrarily set by the user to help separate a document into logical sections.

Views

There are a few ways to view page breaks, but one of the best, at least to get an overall picture, is by going to the View tab in the menu, and selecting Page Break Preview from the Workbook Views group.

The Workbook Views group also includes the Page Layout view, which shows how each page will look when printed, while the Normal view is the one we normally work with when using Excel.

The three view modes just described are also available as three icons in the footer, in the bottom right hand corner of the screen.

You can use either the menu options or the footer icons.

The above snapshot shows the worksheet in Page Break Preview mode.

For the purposes of this example, the worksheet has been reduced to enough rows so as to fill a little more than one page.

The dashed lines above show the page breaks automatically inserted by Excel.

Excel attempts to fit the worksheet within the restraints of the current page size setting, along with its margins and orientation.

In this particular case, the page size selected is letter and is available from the Page Layout tab’s Size option in the Page Setup group.

The drop-down menu that appears offers a number of predefined page sizes, and you can change page size at any time by selecting one of these.

For the current example, our aim is to try and print the worksheet on one page.

The Page Break Preview mode will give us an idea of exactly how close we are to achieving this.

As it currently stands, it will require 6 pages.

Taking a step back and looking at the layout of our worksheet, it is obvious that it is wider than it is long.

This immediately suggests that using landscape mode would be a better fit.

To change orientation, go to the Page Layout tab and click on Orientation > Landscape in the Page Setup group.

The result is shown in the snapshot above.

The page fit is somewhat better but still does not fit on one page, both horizontally and vertically.

Our page needs further tweaking. Still under the Page Layout tab and adjacent to the Page Setup group is the Scale to Fit group.

This allows us to scale the page so that it fits horizontally, vertically, or both, within the confines of the current printable area.

At the moment, both the horizontal and vertical scaling (Width and Height options in the Scale to Fit group) are set to automatic, and Scale is at 100%, which is as it should be.

We can play with the scale factor until our page fits, but there is a better method.

Let’s start by selecting the Height option.

This will open a drop-down menu that allows us to set how many pages our printout should be vertically.

Since our aim is to fit the entire worksheet in the one page, we need to select 1 page.

Excel will scale our worksheet so that it fits vertically on one page.

The result is shown in the snapshot above.

However, while vertically it now fits, horizontally, it still needs a second page.

Note also that the Scale option in the Scale to Fit group, now has a value of 88%.

This is how much the worksheet needed to scale down in order to fit vertically.

If we also set the Width option to 1 page, our entire worksheet now fits on one page.

Checking the Scale option, we see that it now has a value of 62%.

The above example, with its 46 rows, is a case where it makes sense to try and fit a worksheet onto one printable page.

If we go back to the original worksheet however, with is more than 500 rows, and attempted to fit it all on one page using the method just described, the result would be something similar to the above snapshot.

Obviously, in such cases it does not make sense to try and squeeze that many rows onto one page.

The above snapshot was taken in Page Layout view to give a better idea of how the printout would appear.

In such a case, it obviously make sense to try and fit the worksheet horizontally onto one page width, and allow as many pages as are needed to print vertically.

We do this by setting the Width option in the Scale to Fit group to 1 page, and leaving the Height option at Automatic.

The result is shown in the snapshot above. A complete row now prints across just one page, and each page fits up to 68 rows vertically.

We would do something similar if we had a worksheet that spanned a large number of columns across, but perhaps only 60 rows down.

In this case, we would set the Height option to 1 page and leave the Width option at Automatic, so that vertically it would take one page, but as many pages as required horizontally.

This of course is a rarer case, but can nonetheless happen, especially with spreadsheets.

Before we finish off, we will take a look at one more way to achieve fit to page.

It is available at the point when we go to do an actual print, where the print wizard allows us to make a number of adjustments before committing to paper.

Our worksheet has been reverted to its original settings, without any scaling.

We proceed as if we are going to do a printout, by going to File > Print.

Among other things, this also gives us a print preview on the right hand pane, where we see that the page can only fit half the columns.

To the left there is the Print Settings section.

From here, we can change among other things, the page size and orientation, but the option we are interested in is the last, which at the moment is No Scaling.

Clicking on this option will open a drop-down list with the fit to options.

Similar to the Page Layout > Scale to Fit options, we can select Fit Sheet on One Page if we want to fit the entire sheet on one page, Fit All Columns on One Page if we want to fit the sheet horizontally on one page, and Fit All Rows on One Page if we want to fit the sheet vertically on one page.

Choosing Fit All Columns on One Page results in the above print preview.

We now see that all columns fit across a single page.

We also see that the printout will require 8 pages to fit all rows.

The fit to options here are no different to those available from Page Layout > Scale to Fit we used earlier.

Conclusion

While spreadsheets in general do not print conveniently onto a page, Excel offers a host of options that help achieve a good fit to page.

Depending on the size of the worksheet, Excel offers the ability to fit all columns in a worksheet across a single page, all rows down a single page, or the entire worksheet onto a single page.

Excel will automatically scale to fit our worksheet, depending on the current page size, orientation, and margin settings.

Fit to options are available in the Page Layout tab or from the Print wizard.

We hope this tutorial on How to Fit to Page in Excel has been helpful and productive.

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Costas has a wide range of experience in Information Technology covering computer hardware, programming, telecommunications, networking, web services, and general IT support. He's worked in various roles such as PHP programmer and web developer, technical and desktop support, hardware repair, system administration. Costas has excellent background in Microsoft Windows and Office Suite (Excel, Word, Powerpoint, etc), as well as a thorough understanding of Networking and Hardware maintenance.