HomeWinBuzzer TipsHow to Freeze a Row or Column in Excel

How to Freeze a Row or Column in Excel

We show you multiple ways to freeze and lock the rows and columns in an Excel sheet using the ribbon interface.

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Excel’s freeze pane feature is an invaluable tool for navigating large datasets without losing sight of your reference points. Whether you’re working with financial reports, data analysis, or any extensive spreadsheet, the ability to lock specific rows or columns in place as you scroll through your data can drastically enhance your productivity and data interpretation accuracy.

The need to freeze panes arises from the challenge of scrolling through extensive spreadsheets while attempting to keep header rows or columns visible. This is particularly crucial when your dataset spans hundreds or thousands of rows and columns, making it easy to lose track of which data corresponds to which category or period.

This tutorial aims to demystify the process of freezing rows and columns in Excel, making it accessible to users of all skill levels. From locking the top row that contains your column headings to freezing multiple columns that serve as your dataset’s primary keys, we’ll cover a range of scenarios to cater to diverse needs.

This tutorial is compatible with Microsoft Excel 2016 and subsequent versions. It demonstrates how to keep cells visible in Excel when browsing another worksheet region. Below you will discover the complete methods to lock a row or multiple rows, freeze one or more columns, or freeze a column and row at once.

How to Lock/Freeze the Top Row in Excel

Before you can begin freezing and locking, make sure you’re in the correct view mode. Switch to the View tab in your Ribbon interface after launching Excel and the document you’re working on, and make sure the “Normal” view is active.

  1. Switch to the “View” tab, click on “Freeze Panes,” and select “Freeze Top Row” from the dropdown
     

    Windows 11 - Excel - View - Freeze Panes - Freeze Top Row

  2. This will immediately freeze and lock the first row of your document
     

    Windows 11 - Excel - View - Freeze Panes - Freeze Top Row - Result

How to Lock/Freeze Multiple Rows in Excel

You can also freeze multiple rows in Excel through the following step.

  1. Choose the row under the row(s) you want to freeze
     
    In our example, we want to freeze rows 1, 2, and 3; therefore, we’ll choose row 4, as shown in the picture.
     

    Windows 11 - Excel - Select cell

  2. Switch to the “View” tab, click on “Freeze Panes,” and select “Freeze Panes” from the top row
     

    Windows 11 - Excel - Select cell - View - Freeze Panes

  3. The above step will freeze the selected rows in Excel, and they’ll stay at the top
     

    Windows 11 - Excel - Select cell - View - Freeze Panes - Result

How to Lock/Freeze the First Column in Excel

You can also lock/freeze the first column to the right of your Excel sheet with the following step.

  1. Switch to the “View” tab on the ribbon, click on “Freeze Panes,” and select “Freeze First Columns”
     

    Windows 11 - Excel - View - Freeze Panes - Freeze First Column

  2. The column will be locked and frozen to the left of your Excel sheet
     

    Windows 11 - Excel - View - Freeze Panes - Freeze First Column - Result

How to Lock/Freeze Multiple Columns in Excel

  1. Choose the column to the right of the one or more columns you want to freeze
     
    In this case, we wish to freeze column A and column B; therefore, we’ll choose column C.
     

    Windows 11 - Excel - Select Cell

  2. Switch to the “View” tab, click on the “Freeze Panes,” and select “Freeze Panes” from the dropdown
     

    Windows 11 - Excel - Select Cell - View - Freeze Panes

  3. The columns will be frozen and locked to the left of your Excel sheet
     

    Windows 11 - Excel - Select Cell - View - Freeze Panes - Result

How to Lock/Freeze Rows and Columns Together in Excel

You can freeze multiple columns or rows as long as the top row and column of your document are included.

  1. Pick the column to the right of the last column you want frozen, and select the row below the last row you want frozen
     

    Windows 11 - Excel - Select Cell

  2. Switch to the “View” tab, click on the “Freeze Panes,” and select “Freeze Panes” from the dropdown
     

    Windows 11 - Excel - Select Cell - View - Freeze Panes

  3. The selected column and rows will be locked and frozen to the left and the top of your Excel sheet
     

    Windows 11 - Excel - Select Cell - View - Freeze Panes - Result

How to Unlock/Unfreeze Rows and Columns in Excel

Once you are done needing frozen and locked rows and columns, you can unlock/unfreeze them through the following step.

  1. Switch to the “View” tab, click on the “Freeze Panes,” and select “Unfreeze Panes” from the dropdown
     

    Windows 11 - Excel - View - Freeze Panes - Unfreeze Panes

FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions About the Excel Freeze Panes Feature

Can I freeze non-adjacent rows or columns in Excel?

Excel does not support freezing non-adjacent rows or columns directly. If you need to keep non-adjacent areas visible, consider using the “Split” feature instead, which allows you to create separate panes in the worksheet. Alternatively, you might need to reorganize your data so that the rows or columns you wish to freeze are adjacent.

How do I freeze panes to include both headings and the first data entry row in Excel?

To freeze your headings along with the first row of data, you should select the cell in the row immediately below the last heading row and to the right of any column headings you wish to freeze. Then, navigate to the “View” tab, click on “Freeze Panes,” and select “Freeze Panes” from the dropdown menu. This will freeze all rows above and all columns to the left of the selected cell.

Why can’t I freeze panes in Excel?

If you’re unable to freeze panes, first ensure that you’re in “Normal” view, as freezing panes is not available in “Page Layout” or “Page Break Preview” views. Go to the “View” tab and select “Normal.” Additionally, ensure no cells are edited, and no dialog boxes are open, as these can also prevent freezing panes. If the issue persists, check if your worksheet might be protected or shared, as these settings can restrict certain actions.

Does freezing panes affect all sheets in an Excel workbook?

Freezing panes applies only to the active sheet in your workbook. If you have multiple sheets where you want to freeze rows or columns, you’ll need to apply the freeze panes setting individually to each sheet. Remember, the freeze setting will remain on each sheet as you save and share the workbook, but it needs to be set up sheet by sheet.

How do split panes differ from freezing panes in Excel?

Split panes and freezing panes serve similar purposes but work differently. Split panes divide your worksheet into two or four independent sections that can be scrolled separately, allowing you to view different parts of your worksheet simultaneously. In contrast, freezing panes locks specific rows or columns in place, so they remain visible as you scroll through the rest of your worksheet. Split panes are useful for comparing distant sections of your sheet, while freezing panes are best for keeping headings visible.

Can I freeze panes in Excel using a shortcut?

While there’s no direct keyboard shortcut for freezing panes, you can use a combination of keystrokes to access this feature. Press Alt + W + F to open the “Freeze Panes” dropdown menu under the “View” tab. From there, you can press F to freeze the top row, C to freeze the first column, or Enter to freeze panes based on the current selection.

How do I ensure that frozen panes are visible to others when I share my Excel file?

When you save your Excel file with frozen panes, the settings are preserved, and anyone opening the file will see the panes as you’ve frozen them. However, it’s essential to communicate with your collaborators about the frozen panes, especially if they’re unfamiliar with this feature, as they might need guidance on how to unfreeze them if necessary.

Is it possible to freeze rows and columns in the Excel mobile app?

The ability to freeze panes in the Excel mobile app may vary by device and app version. Generally, you can freeze panes by selecting the desired row or column, accessing the menu (often found under “View” or a similar section), and choosing the freeze option. However, the Excel mobile app might have limitations compared to the desktop version, so some features might not be as readily accessible or available.

What should I do if my frozen panes disappear in Excel?

If your frozen panes have disappeared, it could be due to changing the view or accidentally unfreezing the panes. To reapply, simply go back to the “View” tab, select “Freeze Panes,” and choose the appropriate freezing option again. If you’re working in a shared worksheet, ensure that another user hasn’t changed the freeze pane settings.

How can I print my Excel sheet with frozen panes visible on every page?

While frozen panes do not directly impact printing, you can achieve a similar effect by setting rows or columns to repeat at the top or left of each printed page. Go to “Page Layout,” click on “Print Titles,” and in the “Sheet” tab of the “Page Setup” dialog box, specify the rows to repeat at the top or columns to repeat at the left. This ensures your headings are visible on each page, similar to how they appear on-screen with frozen panes.

Can freezing panes help with data analysis in Excel?

Freezing panes can significantly aid in data analysis by keeping your column headers and row labels visible as you scroll through your data. This persistent visibility helps maintain context, making it easier to compare, analyze, and interpret data across different sections of your worksheet without losing track of your reference points.

What is the maximum number of rows and columns I can freeze in Excel?

There’s no explicit maximum limit to the number of rows and columns you can freeze, but you’re constrained by the size of your Excel window and the position of your active cell when you apply the freeze. Excel allows you to freeze rows and columns up to the active cell’s position, meaning everything above and to the left of the selected cell can be frozen. The practical limit depends on your screen size and resolution, as you can only freeze what is visible on your screen without scrolling.

Can I freeze panes in Excel charts?

Freezing panes is a feature specific to Excel worksheets and does not apply to charts. Charts do not have a concept of rows and columns like worksheets, so the freezing panes functionality is not relevant. For better chart viewing and manipulation, consider using chart elements like titles, labels, and legends, and adjusting the chart’s layout and format.

How does zoom level affect frozen panes in Excel?

The zoom level in Excel does not affect the functionality of frozen panes, but it changes how much content is visible around the frozen area. A higher zoom level will show less content around the frozen panes, while a lower zoom level will show more. Adjusting the zoom can help you focus on specific data or get a broader view of your worksheet while keeping important rows or columns visible.

Why do my frozen panes not line up correctly with my data?

If your frozen panes do not align correctly with your data, it might be because the cell selection prior to freezing was not accurately made. Ensure that the cell you select before freezing is directly below the rows and to the right of the columns you want to freeze. Misalignment can occur if you accidentally select a cell that is further down or to the right than intended, causing unexpected rows or columns to be frozen. Double-check your selection before applying the freeze panes option to ensure proper alignment with your data.

Extra: How to Autofit Rows and Columns in Excel

By default, Excel cells are not very wide. You can fit a total of eight full characters, which is enough for many numbers, but not much for text. In our other guide, we show you how to autofit in Excel for both columns and rows, using double-click. shortcuts, and the ribbon.
 
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Extra: How to Wrap Text in Excel (Automatically and Manually)

Knowing how to wrap text in Excel is important so that your spreadsheet doesn’t get any wider than it needs to be. The wrap text function in Excel lets you break text into multiple lines, therefore increasing the length of your cell. In our other tutorial, we show you both methods today so that you can use whatever best suits your scenario.
 
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Extra: How to Hide and Unhide Rows and Columns in Excel

The ability to hide and unhide rows and columns in Excel is particularly useful for managing large datasets, protecting sensitive information, and maintaining a clean, focused workspace. Our other tutorial shows you how to hide and unhide rows and columns in Excel, ensuring that you can control the visibility of your data with ease.
 
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Markus Kasanmascheff
Markus Kasanmascheff
Markus is the founder of WinBuzzer and has been playing with Windows and technology for more than 25 years. He is holding a Master´s degree in International Economics and previously worked as Lead Windows Expert for Softonic.com.