Turn Gridlines ON or OFF

Excel Bad Habit #14: Filling Cells with White Instead of Turning Off Gridlines

Sometimes, you may want to remove the gridlines from your Excel sheet to have a simple white background.

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Often, people will accomplish this by selecting all and then formatting the cells with a white fill.

Incorrect way to remove gridlines

Why is this the wrong way? Because it erases any colored fill that already exists in the sheet.

You can find a better way to remove the gridlines on the View tab of the Ribbon. As you can see, there's a checkbox for Gridlines that you can check or uncheck to turn the gridlines on or off.

Turn Gridlines on or off

The gridlines are turned off for the sheet that is currently selected, not the entire workbook. You can choose to turn the gridlines on or off for EACH sheet.

The keyboard shortcut to toggle the gridlines on or off in Windows is Alt + W V G.

What's your favorite Excel tip or shortcut? Let me know in the comments.

6 comments

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  • Toggling gridlines off and on

    Jon: Thank you for including the keyboard shortcut combination. YEAH!

    Why would anybody want to turn off gridlines? BECAUSE one of the principles of data visualization is to ELIMINATE CLUTTER. Excel can create great charts, which do overwrite gridlines in the immediate background, but sometimes we might want to eliminate gridlines in the area SURROUNDING the chart, and maybe create a light-color background in an attempt to reduce visual fatigue.

    All the best, Jon.

    • Great points, Houston! I forgot to mention it in the post, but I typically turn off gridlines on sheets that contain charts. You’re right about them adding visual clutter that can take away from charts and other objects.

      Thanks so much! 🙂

  • Thank you for the great vid! I have always wondered, though how to have only parts of the sheet grid-free. The workaround that I use is to border the desired cells, which can be a big job, the remove gridlines the way you suggest. But is there a better way?
    thank you
    Jesse

    • Thanks Jesse! And great question!

      You’re right that having a sheet with a mix of gridlines on/off can be a challenge to maintain. I don’t know of any other ways besides using white borders or white fill, or a color that matches the background.

      One trick that can speed it up is using Cell Styles. You can create a custom Cell Style that only has border formatting applied. In this case, it would be white borders (or the color to match the background).

      Then you can select ranges and apply the Cell Style (borders) with a click of a button.

      I don’t believe we have any posts dedicated to Cell Styles or this technique, but we’ll add that to our list for future posts.

      Thanks! 🙂

  • I don’t see much need on a large-scale basis that turning off the gridlines won’t take care of. Never have done it with FILL.

    I have had times when, say, I merged a lump of cells to be one box and changed borders to suit, maybe something thick around it (since the wonderful double line frame chocie was tossed aside when Excel switched from a beautiful, graceful form into the current child’s thick crayon and blocks general appearance), and then use White for the cell borders inside.

    Which was a problem when wanting to switch back, if ever, as just what color are the general gridlines anyway?

    But FILL… no, never used that except for very particular needs and then you have to put the gridlines back in manually because it doesn’t offer a checkbox for “Cell borders too?” Just what color are the general gridlines anyway? And if changing the color back to Automatic/White/No Color, the gridlines need changed again.

    Hated it. For decades. But today I see that returning to a fill of “No Color” restores the gridlines. WISH someone at MS and therefore all the Help websites (so many of them follow the MS press release, kind of verbatim, though not all – Jon) would have mentioned THIS change when it happened since occasionally I desire FILL but flat won’t have all that.

    Still NEVER gonna go the 700 color route you see in a fair number of horrid spreadsheets between regular fills and conditional formatting fills! Horrid.

    What’s the point of calling attention to a cell and having a font that means you can’t read it whether you never noticed it or strongly wish you could read it??? Geez… Is Black text, bolded of course to thicken it and amplify the unreadibility, on a red-to-darker-red fill something that anyone really ever thinks has a point???

    The related thing is I NEVER EVER drag and drop even when the cell is in the bog standard open a new spreadsheet formatting. YOu drag the thing away and you drag the formatting too. Even when it’s in a body of cells surrounding it with the different formatting. And island of generic formatting. Tried it just now and nope, still messed up. It should leave behind an intact cell formatted as it was before you dragged it away. The dragged cell can keep it too, this isn’t a zero-sum game.

    I don’t EVER cut a cell to paste elsewhere for the same reason. Copy, paste, then go back and use the Delete key or “Clear contents.”

    Hate both those things.

    I WILL move columns or rows that way, but not cells.

    I’ve often wondered, speaking of Styles, but have no way to know, whether, if you apply a Style to A1:C10, say, and then change the format of B5… if you now have that Style AND have another style Excel is keeping track of. See, I’ve wondered how people ever hit the old Excel style max of something like 4,096 styles and couldn’t open their spreadsheets anymore (not “couldn’t Save” them and had to find a fix before one could never open it again, oh no, not MS, rather, go ahead and Save, THEN we’ll let you know it is lost forever… gosh, no one could check that BEFORE a Save, no, no, no…). How do you ever ever ever get that many styles??? It’s higher now, but according to distraught people, still very achievable, no matter how amazing that seems.

    But if peeps who bought into “drag and drop” in a big way were constantly adding to their style counts, a hundred times a day even, now THAT would get you up there. And the only thing Billionaire Gate$ loves more than “drag and drop” is tiny windows by the hundred all over your screen. You’d think MS would make his faves work so much better.

    Still, it could explain how they end up in fixes and that was something I never wanted, nor do I want it today. So I steer absolutely clear of Styles, and have never tried them even once since that occurred to me very early on with them. Until someone writes about it claiming a reasonable experiment was run and that does not happen, I still won’t.

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