Excel Do's and Don'ts - Removing Gridlines

May 16, 2012

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:

Workbook example

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

Inserting column shows grid

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.

Removing gridlines ribbon setting

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

Insert column now doesn't show grid

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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Written by Joseph who loves teaching about Excel.

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