Printing: Nifty tricks

Tying up my series of posts on printing, I’d like to talk about a couple of nifty tricks using the printing options I’ve just discussed.

Trick #1: Repeating headers that aren’t next to each other.
Remember when I said that when setting up repeating headers you could specify as many rows or columns as you wanted, as long as they were next to each other? As far as the spreadsheet is concerned, that’s true. However, that doesn’t mean it has to be true as far as the printer is concerned. If, for example, you had a dual header with a blank row between the main header row and the sub-header row to allow for easy sorting, you wouldn’t really want to print out that blank line.

The solution? Hide the unwanted row.

It’s still there as far as the spreadsheet is concerned, but if it doesn’t show on the screen it doesn’t print, so if it’s hidden then as far as the printer’s concerned it might as well not be there.

Trick #2: Expanding to 1 page
If you have a table that’s not as wide as a printed page, and you’d like it to be, then there’s no automatic way to do it. Adjusting the printing size automatically will only shrink it, not expand it. However, there’s a pretty easy to scale it up: just use the percentages instead of the automatic “adjust to fit”. If you specify a value greater than 100% then the result will be larger than the original. However, you probably won’t know to start with how much you should expand it. Therefore I recommend this process for figuring it out.

  1. Add your best guess, or 50% if you don’t have one, to the size. The first time you do this, the size would be 150%. The second time, if it needs to be expanded again, would be 200%.
  2. Check whether the table is now too wide for the page. You can do this using print preview. If it’s expanded onto a second page, then it’s too large.
  3. If the table is too large, go to step 4. Otherwise go back to step 1 and increase it again.
  4. Decrease it halfway to the last known “too small” size.. If 150% was the largest size that was too small, and 200% was the smallest size that was too large, then the difference is 50%. Therefore you should subtract half of that, which would be 25%, from the smallest “too large” size. In this example that would make it 200% – 25% = 175%.
  5. Check whether the table is too wide for the page. If it is, go back to step 4. Continuing the previous example, 175% would now be the smallest “too large size”, and 175%-150%=25%, so you’d want to decrease it half of 25%, which is 12.5%. If it isn’t wide enough, go on to step 6. If it’s just fine then you’re done.
  6. Increase it halfway to the last known “too large” size. If 175% wasn’t large enough, then you’d want to increase it by half of 200% – 175% = 25%, so 12.5%. The end result would be 187.5%.
  7. Go to step 5. This just creates a loop — keep going until you’re satisfied.

Note: If you’re curious, this is based on one of the simplest search algorithms that computers use: the binary search.

That’s it for printing! Looking back, my first annual index was posted a year ago, so that means it’s time for another one. See you next week, with a gloriously link-filled summary of everything I’ve talked about over the last 52 weeks.