Printout Doesn't Match Display for Some Cells

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated February 23, 2018)


Kathy developed a protected worksheet that allows users to input data into certain cells. The data in some of the input cells shows fine in the worksheet; the contents appear on a single line. When viewing the worksheet in Print Preview or printing the worksheet, however, the text that doesn't wrap on the screen wraps in the printout. Kathy was wondering how to make sure that the printout matches what she sees when she looks at the worksheet on the screen.

Unfortunately, there isn't much that can be done to correct this situation; Excel isn't terribly strong in the "what you see is what you get" department. This is very frustrating for many users; the problem most likely boils down to the difference between screen and printer resolution. When Excel calculates column width for the screen, there is enough room for the text on a single line, but when it calculates column width for the printer (at a different resolution than the screen), there is not enough room. The only solution is to widen the offending column, slightly, on the screen.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (2785) applies to Microsoft Excel 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He  is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...


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What is 4 + 1?

2017-02-15 22:12:41

Graeme Shepherd

Hi, I have an excel question that I'd like to share. I have Excel 2007, but it also happens in 2010, and does not happen in Word.

I draw a horizontal line about 130mm long on the spreadsheet. I print it out. All good so far. I now rotate the line 90 degrees clockwise. I print this out. Can you tell me why the print out of the rotated line is about 11% shorter than that of the horizontal?Cheers!Graeme, Invercargill New Zealand

2016-09-17 15:32:04


Copied spreadsheet to Word and it gave the correct preview. The problem is Excel.

2016-02-16 09:18:01

Jim Swindle

In one document, I tried lots of different things; it would still print as if some rows were not tall enough.

I set Excel to fit all columns on one page. It then magically worked.

2015-11-05 23:19:26


what is the probable problem when i can print on my MS WORD but would not print on MS Excel?
and how would it be fixed?
thank you.
more power.

2015-08-13 11:30:05


The text size of one of the rows became very large in the printout. The font size was set at 10, but it changed to at least 3 times of the normal size. Other rows were fine. When I changed the size of that row to 9, it printed OK. Any ideas of what went wrong?

2015-08-04 10:47:39


Using a high resolution monitor setting for vision impairment. Gridlines and borders are visible on the monitor screen but do not print. They are set to print in Excel 2010 but do not. OS is Windows 7 Home premium.

2015-06-30 05:42:17

Jane Cork

where got? i get very good print out use Excell. Best and I use for everything for my job.

2014-04-08 09:39:42



Something that did work for me on Excel 2007 for Windows (using Windows XP):

Select the wrapped cells that are not showing correctly on the print preview.
Make a note of the font, alignment, borders, and other format options that you want to have on these cells.
On the "home" ribbon, find the group of commands "style", and within this group, the icon "cell styles".
On the window that opens, on the top left, left click on the box called "normal" to apply this style to the selected cells, then right click on the same box "normal, select "modify" and apply the formats that you want for the selected cells.

In my case, this fixed the problem: the print preview showed the full content of the wrapped text cell.

Best regards

2013-10-26 05:46:44


Many thanks for the information! It works for me if I lower the printing quality to 96 dpi in the page setup. Many thanks!

2013-07-03 20:27:26

Pete Conroy

I've used Excel 2007 and 2010 extensively. Both have the wrapping problem when printing. The comment from Thomas about it working on the Mac is interesting, since the problem may be (Microsoft!) Windows related. This inexcusable problem, however, has been around for years. When I encounter a print wrapping problem, which is unpredictable, the only recourse I have is to copy the print area in Excel and paste it into a table in Word. At least in Word the wrapping works.

2013-06-05 09:19:47

Tom Bates

I'm sure you're right about differing resolutions being the issue.

The way I've addressed this (admittedly only a few times) is to zoom in, say to 200%, and recheck the relevant cells; I adjust the column width until the wrapping is the way I want it on both the screen and the printer.

2013-06-03 10:33:07


My issue is a little different. When printing or emailing worksheets containing multiple formatted boxes the recieptant's worksheet shows incomplete formatting. The box outlines are incomplete.

2013-06-03 01:41:53

Thomas Papavasiliou

I think that this problem is related in Excel for Windows.
I tried to repeat the print in Excel for Mac and it worked fine.

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