How to Get the Ruler to Show Up in MS Excel

Although Microsoft Excel 2013 enables the top and side rulers by default, it doesn't display them in the Normal view setting. Presumably, this is because the Normal view mode is designed for data entry. Only after you change the view to Page Layout does Excel have a physical basis of comparison -- the printed page size -- to make the ruler meaningful.

Use Excel's rulers to align elements in Page Layout mode.
credit: Ingram Publishing/Ingram Publishing/Getty Images

Display the Rulers

Click the "View" tab to see the Ruler check box in the Show group. In the default Normal view mode, this option is checked but grayed out. After clicking "Page Layout" in the Workbook Views section, which converts the spreadsheet to a print display, the Ruler option is activated. Clicking the "Ruler" check box then toggles the top and left rulers on and off.

Change the Ruler Units

Excel uses your Windows default settings for the ruler units, but you can override these settings. Click "File," select "Options" and then choose "Advanced." Click the "Ruler Units" drop-down menu, select your preferred measurement unit and then click "OK." The menu offers Inches, Centimeters and Millimeters.