How to Apply Gridlines or Borders in Microsoft Excel - dummies

How to Apply Gridlines or Borders in Microsoft Excel

By Faithe Wempen

You can apply gridlines or borders to your Microsoft Excel worksheets. Gridlines are the faint, gray-blue lines you see onscreen that separate the rows and columns. (By default, gridlines appear onscreen but not in print.) Borders are the lines that appear around one or more sides of each cell.

To control how gridlines appear, display the Page Layout tab and then mark or clear the View and/or Print check boxes in the Sheet Options/Gridlines group. (There Gridlines check box on the View tab controls only the onscreen display, not the print setting.)


Borders can be any color or thickness you want. Borders always display onscreen and always print, regardless of settings. Borders are useful for helping the reader’s eyes follow the text across the printed page, and for identifying which parts of a spreadsheet go together logically.

The easiest way to apply and format borders is to use the Borders button’s drop-down list on the Home tab. Select the range of cells to which you want to apply the border, choose Home→Font→Borders. From the list of borders that appears, choose one that best represents the side(s) to which you want to apply the border.


The border will apply to the outside edges of the range you select. So, for example, choosing Top Border applies a top border only to the cells in the top row of the range, not to the top of every cell in that range.

  • To add a border on all sides of each cell in the range: Choose All Borders.

  • To remove the border from all sides of all cells in the selected range: Choose No Border.

  • To add borders on more than one side but not all sides: Repeat the process several times, each time choosing one individual side.

If you want to choose a specific color, style, or weight for the border, choose Home→Font→Borders→More Borders. The Format Cells dialog box appears with the Border tab displayed. In the Style area, click the desired line style. In the Color area, open the drop-down list and click the desired color. In the Presets area, click the preset for the sides you want to apply the border to: None, Outline, or Inside. Click OK.


If you want the border around each side of each cell, click both Outline and Inside.

If you choose a border style and color but don’t apply it to any sides of the range, that’s like selecting nothing at all.