7 Common Excel Printing Problems and How to Fix Them

How many papers have you thrown in the bin after seeing what the printer churned out? Encountering problems while printing in Excel is frustrating—sometimes, it’s even more infuriating if you don’t know why it shows that problem.




Throwing your printer out your office window won’t solve the issue, but finding out the cause and dealing with it will. So, we’ll cover seven of the most common printing problems you might experience when printing with Excel and how to solve them.


1. “We Didn’t Find Anything to Print” Error

If the Excel Print Preview isn’t showing you what you intend to print or you see a “We didn’t find anything to print” message in the Print Preview, that’s usually because you’ve accidentally set the wrong print area.

Here’s how to resolve this issue:

  1. Go back to your Excel worksheet.
  2. Click the Page Layout tab in Excel Ribbon.
  3. Click Print Area.
  4. Click Clear Print Area.
    Clear Print Area

If you want to print a portion of your worksheet:

  1. Select the part you want to print, then press Ctrl + P to go to Print Preview.
    Select the cells you want to print

  2. In the Print Preview (under Settings), click the drop-down menu and select Print Selection.
  3. Click the Print button at the top-left.
    Print Selection


If you want to print your current worksheet:

  1. Press Ctrl + P to go to Print Preview.
  2. In the Print Preview (under Settings), click the drop-down menu and select Print Active Sheets.
  3. Click the Print button at the top-left.

But it’s best to select a print area and choose Print Selection in the Print Preview because it can also resolve the issue of Excel printing blank pages.

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2. Your Printed Excel Sheet Is Too Small

No Scaling

In Excel’s Print Preview, there’s a scaling option under Settings. If the contents of the Excel worksheet appear too small in print, that means the Excel worksheet is scaled to fit into a single page.

Here’s to make your Excel file print larger on paper:

  1. Press Ctrl + P to go to the Print Preview.
  2. Select the No Scaling option under Settings.
  3. You’ll notice the size of the print will revert to the original size (of the worksheet).


3. Excel Borders Not Printing

Show Gridlines

Excel does not print borders (gridlines) by default. Here’s how to change the configurations to print gridlines in Excel:

  1. In Excel Ribbon, click the Page Layout tab.
  2. Go to the Sheet Options section. You’ll notice the Print box (under Gridlines) is unchecked.
  3. Check the Print box.
  4. Press Ctrl + P to open the Print Preview. You’ll notice that it now shows gridlines.

4. Incorrect Page Orientation

If you don’t set the correct page orientation, some columns (or rows) might shift to the next page in print. You should select Landscape orientation if you’ve got a worksheet with more columns than rows. Conversely, Portrait orientation is better for worksheets having more rows and fewer columns.

There are various ways to change page orientation in Excel. Let’s learn two of them:


Method 1: Set Page Orientation in Excel Worksheet

Page Orientation in Excel Ribbon

  1. Go to the Page Layout tab in Excel Ribbon.
  2. In the Page Setup section, click the drop-down arrow under Orientation.
  3. Select the suitable orientation.

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Method 2: Set Page Orientation in Excel Print Preview

Page Orientation in Print Preview Page

  1. Go to the Print Preview by pressing Ctrl+P.
  2. Under Settings, change the page orientation to Portrait Orientation or Landscape Orientation, depending on which orientation fits the worksheet contents on the page.

5. “Margins Do Not Fit Page Size.” Error

If the Print Preview displays the “Margins do not fit page size.” message, that usually means Excel cannot figure out the scaling of your worksheet. That commonly occurs if you have a printer driver that uses the XML Paper Specification (XPS) PageScaling feature.


To avoid getting this error, you can either change the printer driver (and use one that doesn’t use the XPS PageScaling feature) or set the scale manually by following the steps below.

  1. Click the Page Layout tab in Excel Ribbon.
  2. Click the Margins drop-down arrow in the Page Setup section.
    Custom Margins

  3. Click Custom Margins to open the Page Setup dialog box.
  4. Go to the Page tab in the Page Setup dialog box. You’ll notice that the Fit to option is selected.
    Page Setup Dialog Box

  5. Select the Adjust to option and enter the desired number (to set the scaling percentage).
  6. Click OK.

6. Column Width Is Different in Print

Sometimes, Excel Print Preview will show a different column width from what you see. This usually occurs when using proportional fonts with varying widths for different characters, such as Times New Roman, Georgia, and Arial. There are two ways to resolve this error.


Change the Fonts

Changing to non-proportional (monospaced) fonts like Courier New, Prestige Elite, Fixedsys, and ProFont will resolve the issue. To change the fonts:

  1. Select all the cells that contain data.
    Format Cells

  2. Go to the Cells section in the Home tab of Excel Ribbon.
  3. Click the Format drop-down arrow and click Format Cells.
  4. A Format Cells dialog box will appear.
    Format Cells Dialog Box

  5. Go to the Font tab of the dialog box and select a monospaced font of your liking.
  6. Click OK.
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Manually Adjust the Columns

In the Excel worksheet:

  1. Press Ctrl and select all the headings of the columns you want to resize.
  2. Right-click on the selected columns and click Column Width. Enter the desired width in the Column Width dialog box. Alternatively, you can drag the boundary of one of the column headings to the desired size.
    Column Width Dialog Box

  3. The width of all selected columns will change.
  4. Press Ctrl + P to go to the Print Preview and see whether the column width appears correctly.
  5. If it doesn’t, repeat the process until the column width is fixed in the Print Preview.

7. The Print Area Option Is Gray

Print Area is Gray


The Print Area option is available in the Page Layout tab’s Page Setup section. Your Print Area option is gray (i.e., you cannot select it), most likely because you grouped multiple worksheets or saved the Excel file with grouped worksheets.

You can solve this issue by ungrouping the worksheets. There are two ways to ungroup the worksheets:

  1. Select any one of the sheets. For example, if you are in Sheet1 and the Print Area is gray. By selecting another sheet (e.g., Sheet2 or Sheet3), the Print Area will turn active again.
  2. You can also activate the Print Area by right-clicking the sheets and selecting the Ungroup Sheets option.
    Ungroup Sheets

Fix Your Microsoft Excel Printing Problems

Now that you know some of the common printing issues in Excel and how to solve them, you can ensure that your workday goes smoothly.

Of course, there’s more to printing your spreadsheets than just problems. So, if you want to make the most out of printing Excel spreadsheets, you should familiarize yourself with most, if not all, of its features.

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