CP025: Sexy on spreadsheet, Ugly on Printout



In the 25th session of Chandoo.org podcast, let’s learn how to avoid SSUP syndrome.

CP025: Sexy on spreadsheet, Ugly on printout? - Learn how to create spreadsheets that look great and print great. - Chandoo.org podcast

What is in this session?

Most of us suffer from Sexy on the Spreadsheet, Ugly on Printout syndrome. I used to suffer from it too. This happens because we spend all our attention creating that perfect workbook, report or model. And then, we forget about making the proper print settings.

In this podcast, let’s understand how to create awesome workbooks that look great and print great.

In this podcast, you will learn,

  • Frozen & Cars, where my free time goes
  • Primer on print settings
    • Width & height of printouts
    • Page breaks
    • Row & column repetitions on every page
    • Size & orientation of paper
  • Dealing with unprintables
  • Proofing your print settings
  • Printing what’s not on screen
  • Closing thoughts

Listen to this session

Click here to listen if the player is not showing up.


Links & Resources for printing awesome workbooks:

Advanced Printing scenarios

Transcript of this session:

Download this podcast transcript [PDF].

How do you stay away from SSUP?

In the podcast, I revealed all my favorite ways format print outs.

What about you? How do you ensure that your spreadsheets look as beautiful on print as they are on screen? What tips you follow?

Please share your thoughts in the comments area.


Share this tip with your colleagues

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22 Responses to “CP025: Sexy on spreadsheet, Ugly on Printout”

  1. Pratish Sharma says:

    Firstly, thanks for the podcast. Secondly, please take the following as constructive criticism... as this is not meant to be anything more - but rather to help to improve.

    1. There are grammatical errors in a number of places through this section and on the website. (I realise that English is not your first language but I would have therefore thought that all widely published material would go through a check).
    2. The "Listen to this session" heading on the marketing email is misleading as the recipient will automatically want to click on it.
    3. Comments on your website - particularly within your Excel School area tend to only be replied to when the response is easy enough to answer. Negative or even mildly irate comments tend not to be responded to.
    4. All of the lessons (videos) created in the year 2010 are uploaded with all of the unnecessary associated files which are produced by the screen capture program.
    5. All of the lessons (videos) are not indexed in any fashion and some Excel files overlap into multiple lessons.
    6. Upon completion of your program there is a "Get Certificate" option, but the link does not work.

    I would like to point out though that you do come across as a warm and friendly person, and someone who is genuinely enthusiastic about Excel and in helping people to learn. I just wish that your deep technical expertise could be translated into a learning forum in a more robust way.

    Best regards.

    • Chandoo says:

      Hi Pratish,

      Thanks for your feedback. I really appreciate it.


      1. Thanks for letting me know that there are grammatical errors. As you rightly guessed, English is not my first language. I still learn several new ways to use it every week. I write using WordPress (which has built-in spell & grammar check). I did not notice any grammaitcal errors (other than what's typed as whats) when I posted this article content in MS Word. May be I am missing something. Can you tell me where you found these errors? I would be glad to correct.

      2. We use different colors for headings & link text. These are consistent thru-out the site. The sub headings are all colored in a variant of Red with bigger font size. Links are usually blue in color. So I am not sure how this can be confusing. It is the same format in almost all of our 1000+ posts.

      3. I do not agree to this. We do get a lot of comments. In Excel School, we try to reply to as many questions as possible. When a student asks us questions outside course curriculum or things we don't know, we are unable to reply. Again, I note your feedback and investigate this to see what we can do.

      4. Those files are needed to watch the videos on browser. If you take only MP4 file then you do not need them. Just discard the files.

      5. Incorrect. The lesson plan page provides index of lessons. That said, we will try to clean up the downloads so they are easy to work with.

      6. The get certificate link is working fine. Please try again.

      Thanks again for taking time to make me & chandoo.org awesome.

  2. Pratish Sharma says:

    Hi Chandoo

    Thank you for responding, here are my responses.

    1. Grammatical and spelling errors
    I appreciate that you are using WordPress which should work quite well... here are some examples:
    "In this podcast, lets understand" (let's not lets)
    "Rage breaks" (should be Page breaks - this is an easy typo to make)
    "Printing whats not on screen" (as you've already mentioned)

    There are others in your Excel School and other posts, but I can't login to your site again given that my membership has recently expired.

    2. Links on marketing emails
    I see what you are saying, and it is true that your links are correctly formatted in blue underline. However on your recent email today, you have a heading titled "Listen to this session". It is this text that is misleading because it does not provide a link. Underneath that title it states "

    ", which to the average Joe would not be of any use.

    Additionally, on your email today, it states at the top "in this 24th session" - this is confusing given that the podcast is supposedly under section 25, labelled CP025. At the end of your audio you also mention a URL with a 25.

    3. Responses to comments
    I can't really see why you would disagree, if there is a call to investigate... the thing there is that it is not you who has been responding to most participants. It is someone who works for you, I think the name is something like "Sameer" but please don't quote me on the name as I don't remember clearly. There have been a number of comments and questions posted which could be deemed to be either of a slightly negative nature, or indeed as you say, outside the scope of the curriculum. Either way though, the person could be responded to even if it is a single line. Even I wasn't responded to as a matter of fact. On the first exercise about the "Ross...Rachel" text string, I posted an example formula and asked what you thought of it, to which there was no response. From August 2013.

    4. Extra files deemed as unnecessary
    If watching the videos on a browser is the reason for you providing the extra files, then this needs to be made clear to the participant. This makes the whole download process for many of your customers unwieldy.

    5. Indexing of lessons
    I am surprised that you have found this to be incorrect whilst saying that you will need to clean up the files. This is precisely what I was referring to. The files (i.e. filenames) should match the number of the lesson. Therefore when a user downloads the files they can easily refer back to each of the videos and exercises and associate them with the lesson.

    6. Get certificate
    This link did not work, through trying multiple times. It kept taking me back to a login prompt. I couldn't obviously login due to my membership having been expired.

    I have just tried this again now. Still doesn't work, it reverts to the same screen, in my case http://chandoo.org/learn/

    I refer to the Get Certificate link on the panel at the top of your website. The URL behind the link is correct but it does not launch that page. Could this be because my membership has expired?

    7. I would like to add another point associated with point number 6. All of your customers need to be made aware (perhaps stating clearly somewhere in the emails and within Excel School that their membership will last for 13 or 14 months. This wasn't something I was made aware of until I received an email 48 hours before expiration. The notice period of the email reminder should also be extended so that people have more time and warning to complete your courses in the case where they are still working through it.

    Thanks for your time.

    Best regards.

    • Chandoo says:

      Thanks Prithesh.

      1) I am surprised that I haven't learned about the difference between lets & let's so far. Stupid me. I just learned about it and will carefully observe it over the next few weeks until it becomes part of my muscle memory.

      2) I realized the mistake with emails on podcasts. Thanks for letting me know. For now, I have done a temporary correction. I will have to investigate this further to see if powerpress (my podcast plugin) has any feature to show direct link in the feeds & email.

      3) Our student helper had to leave midway due to unavoidable problems. So we had a few dull months on the comment reply side. I have found a replacement and he is already working for last several weeks. I hope the response rate is better now.

      4) We do have a video on the welcome page explaining how the downloading works & what to do once you download lessons.

      5) Agree. This is under process.

      6) This is because your login has expired. It works only when you login.

      7) We make it abundantly clear on the purchase page (from where you join the class) that our online class membership is valid for 6 or 12 months from the date of join. We have also modified the notification email to be sent 2 weeks prior instead of 2 days. Also, weekly emails we send during the course kind of urge you to finish the class.

      • Pratish Sharma says:

        Hi Chandoo

        Reference to point number 6.

        Given that my membership had expired as soon as I had attempted to obtain one... Does this mean that I will not be able to obtain a certificate of completion then?

        Thanks for your time.

  3. Kalps says:

    Hi Chandoo

    Thank you for sharing your expertise and knowledge and I must say I thoroughly enjoyed and learned lots of new tips from your latest podcast. I very much admire your passion and enthusiasm to help and make other people awesome at excel.

    I just want to highlight one thing as a matter of positive feedback. I was listening to your podcast on iPhone browser and half way through I got distracted. At this point I should have pressed "pause" button but kept on playing and in the process didn't listened properly, so wanted to go few minutes back on podcast. However, I couldn't find a scroll button on podcast to drag it back and had to start from beginning. It could be only me btw (but not sure). I hope this feedback might help you to improve one of your communication channel that you use for your audience.

    And one more thing(You are a Legend). Keep enriching us with the wealth of knowledge to make us gain an edge over others in excel arena.

    Over and Out
    Best Wishes,

    • Chandoo says:

      You are welcome Kalps. It gives me immense pleasure that I can share whatever little I know with world. I am humbled that everyday so many people would learn from my experiences, mistakes, ideas and products.

      Regarding the rewind button, I find a rewind options in my iTunes. It lets me go back 15 seconds at a time. Often I use that to go to a specific point in the podcast and listen again (I listen to a handful of podcasts btw.)

      You may need to go to now playing screen on your iPhone / iPad / iTunes to do this.

      • Kalps says:

        Hi Chandoo

        Thank you for your prompt response. I just figured out that when you click download button, it plays on Iphone media player. However, if you buffer and stream on browser then it won't give you scroll bar option.


        • Pratish Sharma says:


          I have a solution for you to potentially try out. Swap your iPhone for a better device 🙂

          Then you won't need iTunes... you won't need the device to fetch the file from iCloud, nor will you have play problems. With a mobile which runs open-source technology you will be able to play any type of media, and store it on your device or SD card if you wish. Also available is the VLC app from Google Play - which virtually plays anything.

          Take care.

          • Kalps says:

            @ Pratish

            Very good idea (Genius). May I please ask you to deposit £500 pounds into my account so I can go ahead and buy Shamesong (oops spelling mistake Samsung):p to try out your idea.

            God bless

          • Pratish Sharma says:


            Interesting that you would resort to buying one when the idea was to swap. Even when you "swap" the iPhone for a Samsung device you will still need to pay £500. Oh yes, hard to find someone who will pay for an iPhone when pitted against a solid Android, but who would want to swap to an iPhone anyway...

            Also interesting, that as soon as an alternative device to an iPhone is mentioned to an iPhone user, the name Samsung comes to mind. Sure, that's where much of the marketing is... If you want to know more about mobile technology in the market, have a look on forums and on YouTube for pure unbiased and fair comparisons.

            Let us try to not be slaves to marketing and propaganda.

            Take it easy.

          • Kalps says:

            @ Pratish

            Well I can only smell Jealousy as I am sure you never had chance to own Iphone and I have sympathy for you who has make do with cheap android phone. However, I would advise you to always aim high and one day I am sure you will get your hand on iPhone (perhaps in dream if not in real) :p

            God bless

      • Chandoo says:

        Folks.. lets not talk about topics which have no end. We all love our iPhones and andriods. So lets focus on learning and not about opinions on which phone / software / company is best.

  4. G McLaughlin says:

    You asked for printing tips, so here are some, basic though they may be:
    -Provide a meaningful name for the worksheet and include it in the custom header.
    -Format the trailer with workbook name on left, date centre, page1 of nn on right.
    -Format print to be 1 page wide by 'blank' tall
    -Format all spreadsheets to look good on 8.5 x 11 (A4 as applicable) and never use 14" paper.
    -Finally, record and use a macro that can be available to all spreadsheets and run it for every page to be printed on every spreadsheet.
    -This will provide a consistent look to every spreadsheet you write and may include corporate data, etc. and assure a professional look to your work.

    You are a great source of Excel knowledge, and I thank you for that.

  5. Sally says:

    Chandoo, even those of us who have English as their first (and only) language have problems with apostrophes and when they apply ....

    • Pratish Sharma says:

      @Sally... good point made there. We see this all too often these days on the wide open forum that is the Internet. Many of us are guilty of that from time to time.

      With that said, the real point I was making was (not just about apostrophes) surrounding the publishing of professional content for mass use, and with that, the use of available tools to automatically check spelling and grammar for us.

  6. The Stig says:

    Hi Chandoo. Making reports print-ready is a significant part of my analysis process. I'm glad I'm not the only one who sees value in this topic. I use Excel 11 for Mac, so I'm used to the formatting nuances between Excel 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, and 2013. It's a lot to keep in your head. Ultimately I'm able to generate very good looking reports that print properly and are well received by the customer. I know because they give me more business... 😉 I have some basic rules that I follow. I'm happy to dialog them more if you are interested. Feel free to email me.

    1) Versioning is your friend
    2) Progression of information
    2) Layout & style
    3) ALWAYS pages are a multiple of 4

    -The Stig

  7. Hui... says:

    I learnt the hard way in the DOS days that when starting a new document in any application:
    1. New Document
    2. Set the page size & orientation
    3. Save the file with a name
    4. Create your masterpiece
    5. Ctrl S every few minutes

  8. Dear Chandoo,
    just a short - general - message of support from the Netherlands. I work at the university and it has become part of my routine when I coach students and PhD students to let them become a member of Chandoo.org. And much to their profit! You offer a unique mix of overview tips for beginners/modestly advanced users as well as in-depth tips for expert users. Just this week my new Mexican PhD student was happy for the left and right text trimming tips! She's working on huge datasets, so wait till she gets to the SUMIF, VLOOKUP and Pivot table tips! Thank you for that, and keep up the good work!

    (in my best 'international English')

    • S.Prasad says:

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Mostly we use Excel for business problems and Chandoo offers us different ideas to make it more professional, if possible can you share the role of Excel in Academic Research, associated hurdles, achievements. Perhaps it would give us different flavor of the technology(Excel) that we use every day.

      @Chandoo hope my request is within the frame work of knowledge share.

  9. Jennifer David says:

    Thank you for pointing out the hidden gems in Excel. I look at the Page Setup/Sheet options everyday and never saw the comment and cell errors options!

    One tip I have is to use the footer options to include the path and file name. It has saved me many times when I couldn't remember where I saved a particular file on the large network drive I share with coworkers.

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