I'm trying to replicate an Excel spreadsheet that someone sent me and I can't figure out how. The print area is set, and all cells outside the print area are greyed out. The cells aren't simply shaded, because Excel says they have no fill, and they aren't hidden/locked/protected because I can still edit them just like normal cells. The only difference is that they're greyed out and the print area has a thick blue border around it. This spreadsheet doesn't have any macros, either.

What feature of Excel is this using?

5 Answers 5


It is called "page break view" in excel. You can go to view menu on the ribbon and select one of the three options....

  1. Normal view
  2. Page layout view
  3. Page break view.

Select page break view and u will have the thick blue border with other cells grayed out as u mentioned.


Under the View tab of the Ribbon, "Page Layout" (second button from the left).

  • 3
    This is wrong. The other answer is correct; this is "page break view" not "page layout".
    – Michael A
    Jul 11, 2014 at 20:03

You should also use the "background image" functionality and then give a colour (possibly just all white) to the cells within the print area

  • 4
    Please explain why this is better than the accepted answer (use page break view).
    – DavidPostill
    Apr 13, 2016 at 11:40

Looks like the cells have been hidden, to do this select the column from where you want the grey to start, then hit control, shift and the right arrow, then right click and hit 'hide' Ta da!!


Another way of looking at this question is whether they are looking at greyed out hidden cells in a worksheet. You can do this in Excel 2013 by going File \ Options \ Office Theme. You can only choose light or dark grey though.

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