How images excel in Excel®

by zemion

Sometimes, the smallest problems call for the most complicated solutions. And sometimes, these solutions can be quite "hacky".

Ever have tried to insert an image into Microsoft Excel® and print it? Then you know what I'm talking about ...

The problem

Imagine you have a round logo like this (found at Logo Open Stock):

Sample logo, particularly round

Now, let's insert that into Excel®:

Image inserted into an Excel sheet

Doesn't seem too bad, does it? So what's the fuzz all about? Now wait until we see the print preview:

Print preview of an Excel sheet, showing a distortion of the image

Now that's weird. The image is clearly distorted. Printing it to PDF shows that it's not only a problem of the print preview.

Printed Excel sheet, showing a distortion of the image

The same goes for sending it to a real printer. The problem persists even when saving and reopening the file, either as XLS (the oldern days binary format) or as XLSX (the newer, XML-based format and today's standard). The image is and stays distorted.

The history

There is a multitude of discussions on the web (try a search like "excel image distorted print"), but all of them reveal one thing: first of all, the problem exists at least since 2008 (I'd say it existed earlier, as some users mention Excel® 2003), and second of all, all the official channels recommend is maually adjusting the size to 110 % to compensate the distortion. Which, to be fair, kind of works.

Other suggestions include locking size and position to the cell grid (which can be found at the context menu > "Size and Properties" > "Properties" entry and did nothing for me) or changing the design font (via "Page layout" > "Fonts"; others reported "Metro" to work, for me, it was a font set called "Metis"), but all these entries do is basically scale the image in one way or the other (try, for instance, resizing a column with the first option set).

A "hacky" solution

The only reasonable solution I found in a German forum (scroll down to the last post). It's still hacky, but removes the limitation experienced before. First, save the table as OpenDocument Spreadsheet (.ods):


Beware of the warning telling you the format "may contain features that are not compatible". Some formatting of your table may be lost - we will come to that later. When the file was saved, close and then reopen it. The print preview reveals: the distortion is gone! Huzzah!

Print preview of an Excel sheet, after solving the distorted image issue

Fun fact: now you can save the file as XLS(X) and everything should be fine. And please don't ask me (or Microsoft, for that matter, you probably won't get any useful answers) why this is working and why it's not getting fixed.

Tip: The image can now also be copied to other spreadsheets and even tables, so a better way to fix the images in exisitng tables is placing the images, saving the file, closing it, reopening it and then copying all necessary images to the old file, replacing the existing images.

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