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Thursday, 23 March 2017

The Last Cell In Excel

The Basics

This post is going to be a bit of fun trivia about the great Microsoft Excel. From Excel 2007 onwards, Column XFD is the last column and Row 1048576 is the last row. That's XFD1048576. (And if you're curious, 32,767 characters is the maximum per cell in Excel 2013.) Excel 95 goes up to IV16384 and later Excel releases before 2007 (so most notably Excel XP and Excel 2003) go up to IV65536. This means that Excel 2003 has 49,152 more rows than Excel 95. But that's nothing compared to the staggering 983,040 more rows than Excel 2003 that Excel 2013 has.

Now for columns. IV equates to 256 columns, so Excel 2003 has no advantage over Excel 95 in column count. That's where Excel 2007 (and later) comes in. It stops at Column XFD, equating to 16,384 columns. That's 16,128 more!

Here's a nice little table:

Excel Version Last Column Column Count More Columns Row Count More Rows
Excel 2007-2013 XFD 16,384 16,128 1,048,576 983,040
Excel 97-2003 IV 256 0 65,536 49,152
Excel 95 IV 256 - 16,384 -

The 38,000,000 Pages

This only applies to Excel 2013, with a last cell of XFD1048576.

Here's where XFD1048576 gets a bit interesting. Printing. If you were to print an entire Excel spreadsheet; that is, with data in XFD1048576, you would need... 38,190,012 A4 sheets of paper! That's based on Excel's Print Preview page count in A4 portrait with no scaling. But if you want to be environmentally conscious, you can change the orientation to landscape (also A4, no scaling) to save about a million pages, with a page count of 37,209,696.

Now what happens if you select portrait with it set to print the entire sheet one one page? Well Excel stretches the meaning of "one page" a little bit: 348,985 pages. At least you're under a million pages now. This time portrait is actually more efficient, with landscape having a proposed page count of 351,656 when scaled to "fit".

But how many pages can we get it to (or not get it to)? Here's a table I compiled based on my Print Preview tests. (Yes, this is useful knowledge to have. Maybe...)

Page Size Orientation Scaling Print Preview Page Count
A4 Portrait 100% (normal) 38,190,012
Landscape 37,209,696
Portrait Fit Sheet to Page 348,985
Landscape 351,656
Portrait 400% (max) 715,833,344
Landscape 715,915,264
Portrait 10% (min) 348,309
Landscape 350,639

OK, so now for the final part. How many trees are needed for 38,190,012 sheets of A4 paper? If we say that on average one tree can provide 7,500 sheets of A4 paper, that means just about 5,092 trees would need to be cut down to accomodate for your excessive Excel printing habits. And if you're using an average laser printer, you'll probably need to replace the drum every 12,000 pages. That's 3,183 drum units! And if that drum is $90 each time, that's $286,425.09 you've already spent to print the spreadsheet. That's excluding toner/ink, paper...

So if there's anything to be learnt here, don't print an entire Excel spreadsheet!


I hope you enjoyed this post. It took me a long time to write. As always, leave your comments below.

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