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Image that shows how to freeze cells in Excel.

How to Freeze Cells in Excel So Rows and Columns Stay Visible

Image that shows how to freeze cells in Excel.

Have you ever worked in an unorganized spreadsheet? We have to admit, there is nothing more frustrating. When you scrolled down the endless rows, chances are, you couldn’t see your headers anymore. How are you supposed to keep track of where you are plotting data? This is where knowing how to freeze cells in Excel comes in handy.

If you have spent time working in a large worksheet, you may have wondered if there is a way to keep your rows and columns visible. This way, you can keep specific information visible when scrolling down or across. It is time-consuming and cumbersome to navigate back and forth to compare the top of your worksheet to the bottom. Luckily, Excel has a few built-in features to maximize your workflow efficiency.

Sometimes you may want to keep specific information visible while scrolling through your spreadsheet. In this case, Excel’s “Freeze Panes” feature is useful. In this article, we will show you all the ways to freeze the cells and how to do so where rows and columns stay visible. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when learning how to freeze cells in Excel.

  • Excel can only freeze panes from the top down and left to right.
  • Panes cannot be frozen while in “Edit” mode.
  • Frozen Panes can easily be unfrozen.

When and Why You Should Learn How to Freeze Cells in Excel

As mentioned earlier, unnecessary scrolling in Excel is a waste of time. It takes longer than you might think just to scroll up and peek at your category labels. It’s essential to minimize wasted time so you can get your work done efficiently.

In many cases, your spreadsheet will fill up more than what is visible on your screen. Any given worksheet contains a maximum of 1,048,576 rows and 16,384 columns. Thankfully, most spreadsheets will not meet their maximum capacity.

If you are working with several categories, it is helpful to keep your headers on screen at all times. Hence the need to learn how to freeze cells in Excel.

How to Freeze Cells in Excel

Although it’s not obvious at first glance, learning how to freeze cells in Excel is a simple process. While this feature is quite useful, it does have its limitations and can be a bit finicky at times. Below you will find out how to freeze panes and some common pitfalls to avoid.

Freezing the Top Row

Let’s start with freezing the top row of a worksheet. Freezing the top row is probably the most common use of the “Freeze Panes” feature. Freezing the top row of a spreadsheet allows you to keep your headings in place so that you can see them while scrolling.

To begin, select the “View” tab on the Ribbon at the top of your page. In this tab, you can check to ensure that your worksheet is in the “Normal” view and also select your desired “Freeze Panes” options. The “Freeze Panes” tool will not be available if your worksheet is not in “Normal” mode.

With your worksheet in “Normal” view, click the drop-down arrow on the “Freeze Panes” icon. You can then select “Freeze Top Row” from here. The top visible row of your worksheet will now be locked in place at the top of your spreadsheet.

Please note that the “Freeze Top Row” option freezes the top visible row of the current spreadsheet. If your worksheet was not scrolled all the way up, you might have frozen your spreadsheet farther down from the actual top. This feature is useful if you want to compare a row in the middle of your spreadsheet to one at the bottom.

If you freeze a “top” row that is not the first row of the worksheet, Excel will hide all rows above the frozen row until you unfreeze your “top” row.

Freezing the Leftmost Column

Let’s say that you’re working in a large worksheet with a list of dates on the leftmost side of the page and multiple categories across the sheet. If you want to keep your dates visible while exploring all of your categories, you will need to freeze the first column of your spreadsheet.

Freezing the first column of your worksheet is precisely like freezing the top row. The only difference is that between the “Freeze Panes” drop-down menu you will select “Freeze First Column.”

Keep in mind Excel defines the “first” column as the leftmost visible column on the screen. If you want that to be your very first column, you must have your worksheet scrolled entirely to the left when selecting this option. Otherwise, you can use this feature to freeze a column from the middle of your spreadsheet to compare it to the right side.

Just like when freezing the “top” row of a worksheet, freezing a column from the middle of the spreadsheet will hide all of the columns to the left until you unfreeze your “first” column.

More Options for How to Freeze Cells in Excel

It is possible to freeze more than one row or column at the same time. Additionally, you can freeze both rows and columns simultaneously. These features can be useful if you need to compare more than one row or column to other rows or columns that are too far separated to see.

To freeze more than one row, select the row below the last row you want to freeze. Navigate to the “Freeze Panes” drop-down menu and select “Freeze Panes.” Excel will freeze all of the rows above your selected row.

Freezing multiple columns is very similar. Highlight the column to the right of the last column you want to freeze. Navigate to and select the “Freeze Panes” option. This freezes all the columns to the left of your selected row.

To freeze rows and columns at the same time, select the cell that is under the last row you want to freeze and to the right of the last column you want to freeze. Navigate to the “Freeze Panes” option and select it by clicking.

To unfreeze rows or columns, select “Unfreeze Panes” from the “Freeze Panes” drop-down menu.

Despite its limited functionality, the “Freeze Panes” feature is handy for working with large worksheets. Knowing how to freeze cells in Excel may take a little practice to master. Have patience while learning the valuable skill and you will reap the benefits of a much more efficient workflow. Excel is a robust program with solutions for nearly every problem you will encounter.

Here’s a Shortcut to Freeze Cells in Excel

Did you know that there are handy keyboard shortcuts for Microsoft Excel programs? Using these shortcuts not only saves you work time but also from pesky, repeated actions. The main reason why people use shortcuts for Excel is that they do not have to take their hands off the keyboard to use a computer mouse and visually search for both menus and buttons. For example, let’s say that you want to add a new workbook. Without using a keyboard shortcut, you would have to click the “office button,” select “new,” and then double click the “blank workbook” icon. Did you know that you can just click Cntrl + N (The control key clicked with the button for n)? The following abbreviations will make your work life a whole lot easier. 

  • Shift + Space: This shortcut will select a row. 
  • Ctrl + C: Use this shortcut to perform the copy action.
  • Shift + Ctrl + Arrow Down: With this combination, you can select all the way down to the bottom of a region within Excel. 

How to Freeze Cells: Final Review

That is it. You see, learning how to freeze cells in Excel is not as daunting as it may have seemed. With these tools and handy shortcuts under your belt, you are well on your way to workplace efficiency. 

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