By Bob Umlas, Excel MVP

It seems not much has been written about Excel’s Page Layout tab so I’ll cover the items shown here (which do not include all the commands) up until the Breaks icon. In parts 2 of 3 and 3 of 3, I’ll cover the icons from Background to the end, as well as go over the Page Setup command:


If you click the dropdown arrow below Margins, you see this:


You can select any of the built-in margins or you can modify them using the bottom item, “Custom Margins…” It looks like the first 2 choices have identical settings, but the “Last Custom Setting” changes to reflect the last setting you used. Suppose you select Custom Margins:


If you change some of these settings, say the top, left, bottom and right are all set to .5 (inches), then when you click the dropdown next time, you’ll see this at the top:


That way your “favorite” custom setting is saved.

The “Orientation” setting is fairly straightforward and consists only of Portrait or Landscape:


The next icon is “Size”, and has to do with the paper size you’re printing on. Here’s the top part of the list, containing the most common U.S. paper sizes:


Next is “Print Area”:


Here you can set or clear the print area. If you set it then only what you select will be printed, even if there’s a lot more to print. Clear Print Area doesn’t erase anything(!) – it allows for printing everything on the sheet (which is the default). It’s useful if you have previously set the print area and now want to print everything. If you do set the print area, then a name, “Print_Area” is created (or redefined if it already existed):


In the above example, if you select B2:C6 and use the Set Print Area command, then when you print the sheet, only B2:C6 would print (note the name Print_Area in the upper left corner – an area called the Name Box).

Next comes “Breaks”. When you select this dropdown, you will see:


If you have an entire row selected and use Insert Page Break, then you would see a line indicating where the page break falls. Suppose row 4 was selected and you issued the command:


Notice the light line between rows 3 and 4 – this indicates the page break. You can suppress the display of the page breaks in File/Options/Advanced section. If you scroll about 3/4 the way down, you’ll see this checkbox:


In the Print area which was set above, if you did File/Print, you’d see:


And when you request the next page (hey—how is that done? You scroll down and at the very bottom you’ll see this):


and then you can click the arrow next to the 2 and you’ll see the 2nd page:


If only one cell is selected when you issue the Insert Page Break command, you’ll see crosshairs for the page breaks. Here, cell C4 was selected when the command was issued. 4 pages would print (A1:B3 would be on one page. C1:D3, A4:B7, and C4:D7 would each be on separate pages).


The Remove Page break is enabled only if a page break is selected, like C4 in the previous example.

Reset All Page Breaks removes any page breaks set, and also changes the print setting for the scaling. That is, if you set the print to be 80% (we’ll discuss this in one of the next articles on Page Setup), then that would be reset to 100% after using the Reset All Page Breaks command.

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Bob Umlas has been voted an “MVP” (Most Valuable Professional) by Microsoft each year since 1994 for his contributions to Excel online forums and he is known world-wide for his expertise. As an MVP, he meets yearly with fellow MVPs at Microsoft’s headquarters in Redmond, where he has access to the product developers. He has also been a beta tester for new versions of Excel since version 1.5 and is the author of several books including This isn’t Excel, it’s Magic! (available on the IIL Bookstore), Excel Outside the Box, and More Excel Outside the Box.

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