Excel: Add a Printable Background to a Worksheet

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Problem: The image I added as a background using the instructions in the previous topic will not print. How do I add a background image that will print?

Strategy: You can add a shape to cover the printable area of your worksheet and then change the shape fill to be your picture. Microsoft allows you to alter the transparency of the shape. Follow these steps:

  1. Choose Insert, Shapes dropdown, Rectangle. Draw a rectangle to cover your print area.
  2. Select Drawing Tools Format, Shape Outline, No Outline.
  3. Right-click the shape and choose Format Shape. Excel displays the Format Shape dialog.
  4. In the Fill category, choose Picture or Texture Fill.
  5. In the Insert From section, click the File button. Browse, select a picture, and click Insert.
  6. At the bottom of the Format Picture dialog, increase the Transparency slider. You can preview the picture transparency as you slide. Around 60% seems to be appropriate. The figure below shows the worksheet at 60% behind the dialog.
  7. Click Close to dismiss the Format Picture dialog box.

Results: Excel will add a background that can be printed.

  1. When you use fill for a shape, you can adjust picture transparency.

    Gotcha: It is now difficult to select a cell with the mouse. If you click on a cell that is covered by the transparent picture, you will select the picture. To avoid this, you click outside the picture and then use the arrow keys to navigate to cells behind the picture.

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