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Excel 2016 - Dotted line appears, but it's not a page break

Posted on 2016-11-17
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Last Modified: 2016-11-18
Excel 2016/Win10:

Per the screenshot below: I have a row that displays a dotted line from columns B - F. (The cell in col. B is merged). I Googled this topic, and found references to turning off the display of page breaks; however, I am reasonably sure it's not a page break.

Excel dotted line mystery
Any idea what this dotted line represents and how to get rid of it?

Thanks,
Steve
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Question by:Stephen Kairys
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LVL 34

Expert Comment

by:Rob Henson
ID: 41891853
Is there some conditional formatting in place applying the format?

Or is it just a cell border drawn across, or a physical line drawn on the sheet?

If you upload the sheet we can take a look.
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Author Comment

by:Stephen Kairys
ID: 41891861
@Rob - Not conditinoal formatting - I don't even know how to do that. :)
How would I tell if it's a cell border "drawn across" or a physical line?

Give me a few minutes to upload...need to redact something.... Thanks.
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Author Comment

by:Stephen Kairys
ID: 41891866
OK, I'm trying to redact the info by removing data from certain cells, but - poof - as I go through this process, the dotted line vanishes.
So, let's try to resolve per my previous question. How would I tell if it's a cell border drawn across, or a physical line? Thanks!
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LVL 34

Expert Comment

by:Rob Henson
ID: 41891875
If it goes when data is deleted would suggest it is Conditional Formatting.

On home ribbon there is dropdown button for CF. Click this and choose Manage Rules. Use the dropdown at the top of the popup to select "This worksheet" rather than Current Selection. Any rules in place will now show.
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Author Comment

by:Stephen Kairys
ID: 41891882
@Rob - No rules show. Thanks.
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Assisted Solution

by:byundt
byundt earned 1000 total points
ID: 41892441
I suspect that the line is where the page break would occur. From your screenshot, you probably have Freeze Panes turned on, and your Print_Area starts in column B.

I was able to reproduce the appearance of your screenshot in the attached workbook set up as I described above.
-PageBreakSpansMergedCell.xlsx
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Accepted Solution

by:
Rob Henson earned 1000 total points
ID: 41892635
To check if it is a physical line drawn on the sheet, hover the mouse over the line and if it is a drawn line the cursor will change to the 4 pointed cross-hair selection icon. I suspect this is unlikely but not impossible.

For checking if it is cell borders, select cells immediately above and below the line, two rows of cells; right click and choose Format Cells. On the popup choose the Borders tab. The graphic will show the state of the lines of the chosen cells. If there is a border in place between the two rows of cells selected, the graphic will show a line across the middle. If all cells are formatted the same the style of line for all cells will be shown; if formatting differs across the cells the line will be shown as a grey line. If no line then there is no border.

To check if it is actually a page break, it could be an automatic break rather than a manual break; on the View ribbon select "Page Break Preview". This will show the print area of the sheet and beyond the print area will be greyed out. The page breaks will be shown as blue lines; auto breaks will be dashed lines, manually inserted breaks and the edge of the print area will be solid lines. In this view you can hover the mouse over the page breaks and move them around. If it is the first time you have used Page Break Preview mode there will be a popup telling you that breaks can be dragged around.
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Author Comment

by:Stephen Kairys
ID: 41892825
@Byundt -
1. My Freeze Panes is set to freeze Row A and Columns 1 and 2.
2. As far as I know, Print Area is the whole sheet. However (in Print Preview), the column heading "A" for the first column is blank. "B", "C", "D" do display.
2. What row contains the dotted line (in your sample)? I don't see it.

@Rob -
1. Page Break Prview shows the dotted line around the point I saw it on the normal view.
2. However, when I opened the workbook this morning, the dotted line was GONE in normal view.

At this point, I'm inclined to Accept Rob's explanation since it seems closest to what was occuring.

Thanks, everyone!
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LVL 34

Assisted Solution

by:Rob Henson
Rob Henson earned 1000 total points
ID: 41892847
In Normal view, the dotted line normally appears after you have done a Print Preview. Doing that forces Excel to calculate where the page breaks would be based on the drivers for the chosen printer.
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Author Comment

by:Stephen Kairys
ID: 41892849
@Rob - Yup. After print preview, the line I mentioned, and at least one other, came back. I don't recall doing  Print Preview before the original issue occured, however. Still, you've provided enough for me to close this question.

Thank you so much! Have a good weekend.
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Author Comment

by:Stephen Kairys
ID: 41892853
This is all great stuff! Thank you all for your knowledgable help!
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Author Closing Comment

by:Stephen Kairys
ID: 41892854
Great stuff. Thanks, everyone!
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Expert Comment

by:byundt
ID: 41893083
In the workbook I posted, the page break occurs between rows 47 and 48. You can see the dash line go across the merged cells B43:B49. Your default printer may have slightly different page breaks from mine.

To get the dashed line to appear, I did a File...Print followed by Print Preview. After seeing the Print Preview, I Escaped out of the dialog before actually printing the page. The dashed line then appeared at the bottom of B47:F47.
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Author Comment

by:Stephen Kairys
ID: 41893148
@Byundt - Thanks again!
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