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Spreadsheets: All about Zoom

Wondering how to zoom in a flash? Or maybe how to force your workbook to open in a certain "view" percentage? Here are some handy tricks.
Bill Jelen, | US
June 15, 2011

Editor's Note: To read more about spreadsheets, share a tip with other readers, or suggest a topic for Bill Jelen to cover in an upcoming column, click here to visit's Spreadsheet Tips Page.

Reader Tom H. wins a copy of Slaying Excel Dragons for his question, "Is there a way to change the default Zoom magnification under the View tab from 100% to 75%?"

I have a lot of zoom tricks, but I don't have a way to make the default of the zoom dialog start at 75%. The zoom dialog always opens showing the current zoom assigned to the worksheet (Figure 1).

I do have a way to make all new worksheets open at 75%, but if you are hoping to change worksheets that others create to 75%, the trick won't work. Here are four quick ways to zoom. 

 Fig. 1


Zoom with the Wheel Mouse
If you have a wheel mouse, you might like a faster way to zoom. Hold down the Ctrl key while scrolling the wheel. You will quickly zoom in or out. Of course, this won't get you to exactly 75%, but you might discover that 70% or 55% is even better than 75%.

Zoom with the Zoom Slider
Excel 2007/2010 sports a handy zoom slider in the lower right corner of the screen. Click the plus or minus to jump to the next 10% increment. Drag the slider to zoom. Click the 75% to open the old zoom dialog.

Zoom with Keyboard Shortcuts
If you are more of a keyboard shortcut person, try Alt+V+Z+7+Enter.

Zoom with a Macro
You could create a tiny macro in your personal macro workbook and assign this to an icon on the Quick Access Toolbar. The macro would be three lines:

     Sub Zoom75

        ActiveWindow.Zoom = 75

     End Sub

Make All Future Workbooks Open at 75%
1. Create a folder on your computer called C:\XLDefault\.
2. Open Excel. Go to File, Options. Choose the Advanced Category. Scroll down to the General section. There is an empty box there for "At Startup, Open All Files In." Type the folder name from step 1 in that box (see Figure 2, below).
3. Open a blank workbook with a single worksheet. Change the zoom to 75%.
4. Do File, Save As. Change the file type to a Template (use XLTM if you use macros, XLTX if you don't).
5. When you choose Template, use caution: Excel changes the path to the Templates folder. Navigate back up the folder tree to the folder you created in step 1.
6. Save the book with the special name of book.xltm (or book.xltx for macro-free).
7. Repeat steps 4-6 to save a second copy as sheet.xltm or sheet.xltx.

Fig. 2



Any time you create a new document with Ctrl+N, the workbook will open at 75%. And any time you insert a new worksheet using any method, the sheet will appear at 75%.

Note: Any settings that you apply to book.xltm will apply to workbooks created with Ctrl+N. This is a great way to always use certain custom headers, etc.

Gotcha: Excel 2003 and all previous versions offered a "New" icon in the toolbar. This icon is missing from Excel 2007/2010. If you open the File menu and choose New, you are not getting the old "New" icon. I know, this isn't easy to explain in print, but once you realize what is happening, you will be glad you saw the subtle difference.

As I was saying, if you open the File menu and choose New, you are not getting the old "New," instead you get the "New..." icon. (Really, those three dots make a huge difference.) This trick works with "New" but not with "New...." Either start using Ctrl+N or add the real "New" icon to the Quick Access Toolbar (Figure 3).

Fig. 3


Figure 3: "New" is good. "New..." is not so good.

CFO contributor Bill Jelen is the author of 32 books about Microsoft Excel. You have the chance to win a copy of one of his books by posting a question to the Community Center on the right. If Bill selects your question as the topic of a future column, we'll send you a book as a thank-you. Bill's next MrExcel Webcast, "Excel for Forecasting & Planning," is Thursday, June 23, at 2:00 Eastern Time. Click here for more details as they become available.