Eliminate a mostly blank page from the end of an Excel report

Excel has a built-in feature that lets you control the number of pages used to print data. This feature enables you to eliminate a last page that has only a few records or to expand data over more pages than it really requires.

No matter what kind of formatting you apply to an Excel sheet, you can't easily control the number of rows on each page when printing. Occasionally, you might end up with just a few rows printing on the last page. That's not exactly a problem, but those two or three additional rows printed on the last sheet can look unprofessional. In addition, it seems wasteful in today's greener environments.

There's an easy way to avoid this situation if you're willing to compromise just a bit. Simply use Excel's Scale To Fit option to reduce the number of pages needed. For instance, if a report is five pages, but page five has only two rows of data, this option would reduce the number of pages to four. Here's how:

  1. From the File menu, choose Page Setup and click the Page tab. In Excel 2007, click the Page Layout tab and open the Scale To Fit group.
  2. In the Scaling section, click the Fit To option.
  3. In the Tall control (the second control), enter the number of printed pages that you want. In this case, that's 4. Now click OK.

Excel will reduce the text size just enough to squeeze those last few records onto the fourth page, instead of printing a mostly empty fifth page. That's the compromise -- the option changes the text size just a bit. In most situations, where you're pulling only a few records onto the previous page, no one will notice the change. However, if you have conventions that don't allow for subtle changes, you won't want to use the Scale To Fit option. In addition, Excel will ignore manual page breaks when you apply this option.

You can use this same setting to expand the size of the printout. For instance, if you have four pages of data and you want to fill six, you'd follow the instructions above but enter 6 in the Tall control. Excel won't increase the font size, but it will divide the data over six pages. The first Fit To setting works the same way, with columns.