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Microsoft Excel

How to Freeze Rows and Columns in Excel (Productivity Hack)

If you work with large Excel spreadsheets, sometimes the information you need to look at is several rows or columns away. If this sounds familiar, you should definitely become familiar with the freeze panes command!

We talk about how to freeze rows and columns in Excel in our Level 1 Excel course – and it’s always a participant favorite!

Where is the Freeze Panes Command?

Let’s start with the basics – and get oriented. Where is Freeze Panes?

The Freeze Panes command is located in Excel’s ribbon on the View tab in the Windows group – and it’s super easy to use.

When you select Freeze Panes, a drop-down menu appears with additional options.

Freeze Panes command

Freeze Top Row

If you select Freeze Panes then click Freeze Top Row, row 1 (the top row) in your spreadsheet will remain visible as you scroll down to examine additional rows of data.

This screenshot shows a simple spreadsheet before any rows or columns are frozen.

Freeze Top Row

The second screenshot shows the same spreadsheet after I selected Freeze Top Row and scrolled down to examine the figures in row 4 (Deli Counter) in more detail.

Notice that the row numbers go from 1 to 4. Rows 2 – 3 aren’t visible because they’ve scrolled “behind” row 1 – which is now static.

Freeze Top Row - scrolled to row 4

Freeze First Column

If you select Freeze Panes then click Freeze First Column, column A (the first column) in your spreadsheet will remain visible as you scroll to the right to examine additional columns of data.

This screenshot shows the spreadsheet after I selected Freeze First Column and scrolled to the right to examine column D (Q3) in more detail.

Freeze First Column

Freeze Rows and Columns

What if you want to freeze rows and columns at the same time? There’s a third option available.

If you want to freeze the top row and first column in a spreadsheet, you would click on cell B2, select Freeze Panes from the View > Window group, then click Freeze Panes from the drop-down menu.

This screenshot shows the spreadsheet after I selected Freeze Panes from View > Window then selected Freeze Panes from the drop-down menu.

You can scroll to the right and down when you freeze rows and columns this way – while you column headings and row titles remain visible.

Freeze Panes

Important: When you use Freeze Panes this way, you freeze columns to the left – and rows above – the selected cell.

Unfreeze Panes

When you’re done scrolling to display rows and columns, you can return your spreadsheet to its former condition by clicking Unfreeze Panes.

Simply select Freeze Panes in the View > Window group and select Unfreeze Panes from the drop-down menu.

Saving an Excel Workbook with Freeze Panes Applied

If you save an Excel Workbook after clicking the Freeze Panes button, the rows and columns will remain frozen.

This can be convenient if you find it helpful to have certain rows and columns remain static while you scroll to different parts of the worksheet.

By Michael Belfry

Working as a full-time training consultant, Michael provides Microsoft Office courses to government and private sector clients across Canada.