Removing Dotted Lines in ExcelStep by Step Instructions with Screenshots

Why these dotted lines appear and how to remove them
Patrick Louie

Imagine that you’re working on an Excel sheet that you’ll be using for your report later.

You will be presenting the Excel sheet to the attendees of the meeting.

You diligently input the data that you need for your report.

And then finally, you’re done with the sheet. It’s ready for your presentation later, except, there’s this issue:

There’s this dotted line!

And no matter how much your press the delete button, it’s still there.

It doesn’t get deleted.

You even try formatting the cells that have the dotted line, but still no dice.

What gives?

Now, there are several reasons why a dotted line appears on your Excel sheet.

Some of them are the following:

  • It could be due to page breaks
  • It could be due to print area selection
  • They are gridlines that normally appear when Excel is in the default setting
  • The cell formatting has a dotted or dashed border/s
  • You may be currently copying a cell

No matter the reason, a dotted line appearing on your Excel sheet makes it less presentable.

It can distract your audience from focusing on the data that you’re reporting.

That’s why in this article, we will be discussing the different ways you can address any dotted line that appears on your excel sheet.

Removing Dotted Lines Due to Page Breaks

Dotted lines due to page breaks may be the most common reason why they appear on an Excel sheet.

Page breaks can be useful when you’re printing your Excel sheet.

They indicate where one page ends and where another page begins.

So if you want certain data to appear on a certain page, page breaks are your friends.

Page breaks appear as dotted lines when they are automatically assigned by Excel.

If a user manually adds them, they appear as solid lines instead.

But no matter their appearance, they are undesirable for presentation purposes.

So you’ll want to remove them when you’re presenting your Excel sheet.

Another thing to note: depending on the view you’re using, the dotted line may appear differently.

Here’s how it appears in normal view:

It will appear as a grey dotted line. It’s not emphasized, but it’s noticeable enough.

Here’s how the dotted line appears in page break view:

It appears as a bold blue dotted line. It’s more noticeable than the one in normal view.

However, you’re unlikely to use the page break view when presenting your Excel sheet in a meeting.

How to Remove Dotted Lines Due to Page Breaks

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to remove dotted lines due to page breaks:

  • First, you want to make sure that you’re in normal view. If you’re in page break view, you’ll have to switch to normal view. You do this by clicking the “Normal” Button in the “View” menu. Doing so may already remove the dotted lines. But if they’re still there, proceed to the next step.

  • If the dotted lines are still there, you’ll have to click the “File” menu and select the “Options” action:

  • Pressing it will make the Excel Options dialog box appear. Select and press the “Advanced” button that you see on the left side of the dialog box. Scroll down until you arrive at the “Display options for this worksheet” section.

  • You’ll want to uncheck/untick the “Show page breaks” checkbox. Click the Ok button after doing so.

  • The result: no more dotted lines (though they’ll still appear in page break view).

Removing Dotted Lines Due to Print Area Selection

Another reason why dotted lines appear is due to print area selection.

The print area selection option allows you to manually set the portion of the Excel sheet that will be printed.

It’s very useful if you only want to print certain parts of the Excel sheet rather than the whole sheet.

But like page breaks, the print area selection is only useful when you’re printing.

Here’s how an Excel sheet would appear if there’s a selected print area:

Remember when I said that manually added page breaks appear as solid lines?

Well, that’s also the case when you select a print area (since they’re technically manually added page breaks).

So they’re not exactly dotted lines, but it’s not like you want them to appear when you’re presenting the sheet anyway.

How to Remove Dotted Lines Due to Print Area Selection

Whether there is a single print area or multiple scattered ones, the following steps should still apply

If you only want to remove a particular print area/s, just select the cells that have the dotted lines.

If you want to remove all print areas, you can either select all cells (Ctrl + A) or select a cell that doesn’t belong to any print area.

  • On the page layout Menu, click the “Print Area” button. By doing so, three options will appear. You’ll want to click the “Clear Print Area” Option.

  • The result of doing so: no more dotted lines (or more like pale grey solid lines)!

Removing Dotted Lines That Are Actually Gridlines

Gridlines are those grey lines that you see on any default Excel sheet.

They may sometimes appear like they’re dotted or dashed lines.

You don’t necessarily have to remove them when presenting the sheet. But if you want to, there are two ways to do so.

The first one is to format some or all of the cells in the sheet.

The other is to remove the gridlines from view.

How to Remove Dotted Lines That Are Actually Gridlines (using cell formatting)

  • Select the cells that have the gridline that you want to remove. If you want to remove the gridlines entirely, you can just select all cells (Ctrl + A). Do note that since we’re using cell formatting, this may affect the cells that already have formatting in them.
  • On the “Home” menu, click the Fill Color button. This will let us choose the background color of the selected cells. Choose the color white.

  • After doing so, all the selected cells should have a white background. The gridlines will also be removed from the selected cells.

How to Remove Dotted Lines That Are Actually Gridlines (using the Page Layout Menu)

If you don’t want to affect the formatting of your cells but still want to remove gridlines, then you should follow these steps:

  • In the page layout menu, you will see a section that has “Gridlines” in it.

  • You’ll want to untick/uncheck the “View” checkbox. Doing so will remove all the gridlines from view.


Removing Dotted Lines Due to Cells Having Dotted/Dashed Borders

Dotted lines may appear on the Excel sheet due to cells having dotted or dashed borders.

For reference, here’s what a dotted cell border would look like:

And here’s what a dashed cell border would look like:

So how can these cells have these borders? It could be that someone else worked on the same Excel sheet before you and deliberately formatted the cells to have such borders.

You could have formatted the cells to have such borders intentionally or accidentally.

Whatever the case may be, the fact is that these cell borders appear as dotted/dashed lines on the sheet.

And as such, you may want to remove them for presentation purposes.

How to Remove Dotted Lines Due to Cells Having Dotted/Dashed Borders

  • Select the cells that have the dotted lines that you want to remove. If it’s a range of cells, you select all the cells that the border encompasses. If you want to remove the dotted lines from all of the cells, press Crtl + A.
  • Select the “Home” menu. You should see a section that has “Font” beneath it.

  • Press the arrow on the right side of the “Borders” button (shown below). You’ll be presented with a lot of options. For now, we’ll select the “No Border” option.

  • The result: no more dotted lines!

Removing Dotted Lines That Appear When Copying A Cell or Range of Cells

When copying a cell or range of cells, you’ll notice that moving dotted lines will appear around the cells.

They will appear when using the format painter.

This indicates that you’re copying a particular cell or cells.

To make these dotted lines disappear, you’ll have to select the cells where you want to paste the copied cells.

Then you press the “Enter” key. Using the combination Ctrl + V or paste action will not remove the dotted line.

Alternatively, if you don’t want to copy the selected cells, you may select a blank cell and press the “delete” key or type anything on it.

This will stop the copy action and will remove the dotted lines.

Closing Remarks

Before working on how to remove the dotted lines that appear on your Excel sheet, you need to determine first what causes them to appear.

By knowing so, you’ll have a better understanding of how to fix the issue.