Printing: Print order

The printing options and tricks I’ve discused over the last group of posts are definitely not all the options available — they’re just the ones I use on a regular basis. However, spreadsheets have a number of other printing quirks as well. Today I’m going to talk about selecting what order the pages are printed in, since it’s not as simple as in a word processor.

In a word processor, the end of a page is its bottom, and to continue reading you should go to the top of the next page. But in a spreadsheet a page might have two “ends” — one at the bottom, and one to the right. So some spreadsheets let you dictate whether it prints “down first” or “across first”. If it’s “down first” then page 2 starts at the bottom of page 1, and page 3 starts at the bottom of page 2. If the spreadsheet is only 3 pages long in that direction then page 4 will start immediately to the right of page 1, and page 5 will be below 4 and to the right of 2. Conversely, if it’s across first then page 2 starts to the right of page 1, and when it runs out of pages to the side it goes down to the page immediately below page 1. This might not seem important, but when you’re printing it out and giving it to people in a bound report of some sort, you want them to be able to find the “next” page quickly and easily.

What the “next” page is depends entirely on what information they’re following. For example, imagine that you’ve got a lot of census information about the 50 states in the US, and that the states are the rows and the different statistics are the columns.

If you expect people to be looking for all the statistics about a particular state, then you want it to be easy to follow a single row. Therefore it should be “across first”, so they can flip from the first part of the data about that state to the 2nd part without having to skip pages.

On the other hand, if you expect people to be comparing states to each other then you want it to be easy to follow a single column of statistics across all the states. That means page 2 should start immediately below page 1, which means it should be printed “down first”.

Most programs default to “down first”, and of course the ones that let you choose all do it differently.

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 last section, labeled “Print order”, click on “Down, then over” for “down first”, or “Over, then down” for “across first”
  5. Click “OK”.

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, and click on the arrow in the lower right corner or type sp.
  3. Click on the “Sheet” tab.
  4. In the last section, labeled “Print order”, click on “Down, then over” for “down first”, or “Over, then down” for “across first”
  5. Click “OK”.

In Google Spreadsheet:

Google Spreadsheet does not seem to have a way for you to dictate what order to print the pages in.

In OpenOffice Calc:

  1. Click on the “Format” header or type alt-o.
  2. Click on “Page” or type p.
  3. In the top section, labeled “Page order”, choose “Top to bottom, then right” for “down first”, or choose “Left to right, then down” for “across first”.
  4. Click “OK”.

In Microsoft Works Spreadsheet:

Microsoft Works does not seem to have an option for this.