Excel Do’s and Don’ts – Removing Gridlines

I don't always remove gridlines

Sometimes people like to create a “splash page” or some kind of landing page to present to end-users who aren’t familiar with the particular workbook.  This splash page can include instructions, nice graphics and colors, or maybe key codes on what some acronyms may mean.  Whatever the case, there’s something I notice very often when I see these: they try to remove gridlines by applying a white colored border.

For example:

This looks fine, but what if I wanted to insert a column before A?  Here’s what I would get:

A bunch of borders with gray shading.  This makes it obvious that white borders were applied to the other cells in view.  To keep my formatting like I had it, I would then have to apply column A with white borders.

The reality is that when you create a new Excel worksheet, it is showing cells and “gridlines,” not “borders.”  The gridlines are probably just an inherent property of each cell that acts as a border, but loses its formatting once you apply a color to the cell or a border to one of the cell’s edges.  If you look at any cell’s border format in a brand new worksheet you’ll notice that there is no border applied in any color at all.  It’s just the standard.

TIP: To change the standard color of the gridlines in Excel 2010, go to File–>Options–>Advanced–>Gridline Color.  (Excel 2007 go to MS Office Button–>Excel Options–>Advanced–>Gridline Color)

So how can we remove gridlines without creating white borders?  Well, the good new is:

There is an easier way to remove gridlines from the worksheet.

Go to the View tab and under the Show group uncheck Gridlines.  That’s it.

Now if you insert a column before A, here’s what you’d get:

There are no more gridlines, even after I inserted a new column.  That’s because we don’t need any formatting for this kind of display.  We just needed to turn off a simple feature.


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  • Thanks Joseph. This issue has been bothering me for years. I’d found other solutions, then lost them, so I Googled the problem (again) and luckily found your site.

    I really liked how you illustrated the problem. I have seen four ways that people remove gridlines. Your article triggered my memory of the other three ways when you mentioned using the white border. Those methods are:

    1. Apply Fill Color.
    Select the cells. Go to the Font Group, select Fill Color, White

    2. Apply White to the borders.
    Select the cells. In the Cells Group, click Format, Format Cells, Border Tab.
    Under Color, choose White. Click Outside, click Inside, OK.

    3. Fill/Background Color/Pattern
    Select the cells. Click Format, Format Cells. Fill Tab.
    Under Background Color, click White. Click OK.

    • Hi Veronica,

      I’m glad you like the content 🙂 as for those three methods, yes, those will get the job done. I used to use those myself until I found the “Remove Gridlines” option. It would always be a pain to reformat everything if I inserted a new column before column A or a new row before row 1. I find it easier to just remove gridlines altogether and just apply gridlines only where I really want them.

      So have you adopted the “Remove Gridlines” checkbox? Or do you prefer the methods you mention better?