Printing: Repeating headers

If your table takes up more than one page, the biggest problem is going to be that the second page won’t have the row headers if it’s too wide, or the column headers if it’s too tll. If it’s both too wide and too tall then the 4th page won’t have any headers at all.

There’s a couple different ways you can deal with this (other than ignoring the problem or using scissors and tape on the printout). One option is to manually separate the table into multiple tables, and repeat the relevant column & row headers in each. This, however, is tedious, and will probably involve a lot of back-and-forth between the print preview and the worksheet itself, as you try to get the perfect fit. Fortunately the other option is much simpler: tell the program what the row and column headers are, and tell the program to print them on every page.

At this point I want to point out somethign that could lead to confusion. I’m talking about the row and column headers, not the “headers” or the “page headers”. (I’m reminded at this point of this Order of the Stick comic.)

  • Row and column headers are the cells at the top or the left of the table, where you’ve entered a brief description of what’s in that column or row. I’ve talked about the importance of column headers before. Some programs refer to these as “titles”.
  • Headers, which could also be called worksheet headers or spreadsheet headers, are the row numbers and column letters.
  • Page headers are something you may be familiar with from word processing. They’re often grouped with footers, and print at the top (or bottom) of every page, usually outside of the normal print area. It’s where you put the title of the report, and/or your name, and/or the page number, and/or the file location, etc.

In this post I’m specifically talking about row and column headers – the ones you define.

Generally, you can specify as many rows or columns as you want, as long as they’re all next to each other. That is to say you can tell the program to repeat row 1 on every page of the printout, or row 3, or rows 1, 2, and 3, but you can’t tell it to print just rows 1 and 3.

Don’t get too carried away, though! It is possible to add so many rows and columns of repeating headers that there’s only 1 cell of actual content per printed page.

As always, every program has its own way of doing this.

In Excel 97:

  1. Click on the header for the File menu or type alt-f.
  2. In the menu that opens, click on “Page setup” or type u.
  3. In the pop-up window, click on the “Sheet” tab.
  4. In the “Print titles” section (just below the “Print Area” section), enter the rows and columns you want repeated.

In Excel 2007:

See Excel 2010

In Excel 2010:

  1. Click on the “Page Layout” tab or type alt-p.
  2. Locate the “Page Setup” group
  3. Click on “Print titles” OR click on the arrow in the bottom right corner of the group OR type “sp”. Any of these will open the “Page Setup” window.
  4. In the window that pops up, click on the “Sheet” tab.
  5. In the “Page titles” section (immediately below the “Page Area” section), choose the “rows to repeat at the top” and the “columns to repeat at the left”.
  6. Click “OK”

Note: You will also see a checkbox to print “row and column headings” but that’s not the same thing — that will print the row numbers and the column letters.

In Google Spreadsheet:

  1. Click on the “View” header.
  2. Click on the “Freeze rows”.
  3. Click on the number of rows you want to freeze. Note: these are always at the top of the sheet.
  4. Click on the “File” header, then on “Print” OR click on the printer icon OR type ctrl-p.
  5. In the window that appears, near the top on the right there’s a checkbox for “repeat row headers on each page”. Make sure it’s marked.
  6. Click “OK”

In OpenOffice Calc:

  1. Click on the “Format” header or type alt-o.
  2. Click on “Print ranges” or type n.
  3. Click on “Edit…” or type e.
  4. Under “Rows to repeat” change the dropdown menu from “- none -” to “- user defined – “, then enter the rows in the box next to it.
  5. Under “Columns to repeat” change the dropdown menu from “- none -” to “- user defined – “, then enter the column in the box next to it.
  6. Click “OK”.