How to Set Print Area in Google Sheets

Setting the print area in Google Sheets is an important part of the process for transferring spreadsheet information to paper in a way that’s easy to use.

An incorrectly configured print area can result in poorly located page breaks and wasted paper.

If you’re coming over from Microsoft Excel, you might find the way Google Sheets handles setting the print area confusing. These two spreadsheet tools handle this task in very different ways.

In Excel, you define a print area under the layout menu before printing content as a permanent setting, whereas Google Sheets manages the print area each time you print.

Google Sheets do not include a “permanent” print area setting.

Instead, you need to define the print area each time you print in Google Sheets. The following processes explain how to set the print area in Sheets and configure how the print area displays on paper.

How to Set the Print Area for a Selection of Range in Google Sheets

If you’re trying to set the print area in Google Sheets, you probably are trying to avoid using excessive amounts of paper to show a narrowed information selection.

The important take-away from configuring the print area in Sheets is you need to do it every time you print.

We’ll be using a spreadsheet with user information for this tutorial. These are the first 20 references of the spreadsheet:

Dataset to be printed in Google Sheets

The following steps explain how to set the print area in Sheets.

  1. Highlight the area you want to print. In the example below, I’ve selected the first 10 lines and the header row for a range of A1:F11. This sets the print area.HIghlight the area that you want to print
  2. Next, open the “Print Settings” menu. You can do this by clicking the File menu then Print (first image), clicking the printer icon from the sub-menu (second image), or pressing the “Ctrl+P”(“CMD+P” on Mac) keyboard shortcut.Click the File option and then click on Print
  3. Click on the “Print Settings” menu option that says “Current Sheet”Current Sheet
  4. Choose the “Selected Cells” option. This will change the print area from the entire spreadsheet to just what you selected in a previous step.Selected Cells
  5. Check the preview to make sure you’ve highlighted the correct range. This is what the preview looks like in the example:Print Preview
  6. Hit “Next” and use your operating system’s print management program to send it to the printer. Usually, this just involves selecting the desired printer and hitting the “Print” button, but you may need to change things like color settings here.Click on Next

For example, on this Windows 10 system, I’ve selected to print the spreadsheet from the “HP ENVY Photo 7100” destination.

Select the destination printer

After following these steps, you’ll soon have a physical printed copy of your spreadsheet.

How to Set the Print Area to Print Everything on the Sheet

If you want to set the print area to include the entire spreadsheet, it’s actually less work. Follow these steps to print everything.

  1. Open “Print Settings” by selecting “File” then “Print”, clicking the printer icon, or by keyboard shortcut (Ctrl+P or CMD+P). The example shows the printer icon.Printer Icon in the toolbar
  2. Check the “Print” menu option. If it says “Current Sheet” leave it alone as this is the default setting. Otherwise, click on it and select “Current Sheet.”Current Sheet
  3. Hit “Next” and use your operating system’s print management program to send it to the printer.

How to Print the Header Row(s) on Each Page

You can set Google Sheets to print header rows on each page to help contextualize cell values. In many cases, it’s easy enough to know what you’re looking at, but having headers on all pages is generally a better experience, especially if you’re going to be looking at pages individually.

  • Click the “View” menu and select the “Freeze” option. Then choose your header dimensions from the options list. In most cases, you’re going to be using “1 row.”View Freeze One row

The printed spreadsheet will now feature the frozen header row on top of the data on each page.

Row Freezed and printed on each page

How to Adjust the Scale and Margin to Fit

Your work isn’t always done after setting the print range. Sometimes Google Sheets will default to a printing configuration within the preset range that has awful experience on paper.

If the preview image is creating page breaks at undesirable, awkward places, you can use the “Scale” and “Margin” settings to fine-tune how your printed range appears on the page.

Scale settings:

  • Normal: This is the default setting. It is fine for most use cases.
  • Fit to Height: This compresses the cells to fit all rows on a single page. This is useful for printing data with a large number of columns, but few rows.
  • Fit to Width: This setting compresses the cells to fit all columns on a single page. This is useful for printing data with a large number of rows, but few columns.
  • Fit to Page: This setting will fit the entire selected range on a single page. It is useful for smaller selected data ranges.

Margins:

  • Normal: This is the default setting. It is fine for most use cases.
  • Narrow: This setting will use more paper real estate on each page. This setting results in fewer printed pages with more data on each page.
  • Wide: This setting creates more whitespace around the data on each page. It can display fewer columns and rows on each page.

Note: You can also switch between landscape and portrait page orientation to better fit your selected data as well.

How to Set Custom Page Breaks in Google Sheets

Google Sheets has the capability to set the print area on a page-by-page basis. This can be very helpful for data curation. For example, you may want to show 20 rows worth of data a page from a spreadsheet with 100 lines, but Sheets defaults to showing 23 rows per page. You can adjust Sheets to use page breakpoints that make more sense.

  1. From the “Print Settings” screen, select “Set Custom Page Breaks.”Set custom page breaks
  2. Drag the dotted lines to the locations where you want specific pages to start and end.Print Area page break dotted line
  3. The example shows moving the page break from line 32 to 21.Moving the page break line to set the print area
  4. Click “Confirm Page Breaks” to save your selection.Confirm Breaks

Your printed version will now have specifically defined printed areas on a page-by-page basis.

These processes demonstrate how to set the print area in Google Sheets and manage common configuration options.

This feature is an example of something that works differently from other popular spreadsheet programs.

I hope you found this tutorial useful!

Other Google Sheets tutorials you may like:

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