Sometimes, you may find yourself working with very large spreadsheets full of data. Excel can easily support thousands of rows and columns. It’s often useful to keep certain rows and columns in view in Excel. Thanks to the Freeze Panes feature, it’s easy to do. Let’s learn how to freeze panes in Microsoft Excel.
How to Freeze Panes in Excel
Consider a spreadsheet with thousands of rows inside. At the top or on the left side are column and row headers. These provide helpful descriptive information about the contents of each row and column. That is to say, you have labels in row 1, or in column A.
Now, suppose you’re working on row 500 of your spreadsheet. Obviously, row 1 with the helpful labels isn’t visible – or if it is, you’re zoomed out too far to read anything on your sheet! Wouldn’t it be great if you could always keep certain rows or columns in view? Well, fortunately, you can do exactly that, thanks to Excel’s Freeze Panes feature.
Freeze Panes works in two distinct ways. It can automatically freeze the left-most column in any spreadsheet, or the uppermost row. This option works with a single click, and is the most common use for the feature.
But imagine that you need to keep the first three columns, or the top five rows, of a sheet in view. Freeze Panes has you covered once again. It’s equally easy to use, and gives you much more visual control over your sheets. Let’s explore all of these options to see how they work.
Begin by imagining a sheet where you need to keep the first – that is to say, the left-most – column in view, no matter how far you scroll your spreadsheet. Click into any cell in your worksheet; after all, the first column is the first column regardless of where your cursor happens to be positioned at any moment.
Then, go to the View tab on Excel’s ribbon. Just right of center, you’ll see a trio of options: Freeze Panes, Freeze Top Row, and Freeze First Column. Predictably, you’ll want to choose Freeze First Column here. Simply click on the button. You may not notice anything until you start scrolling to the right.
In essence, Column A now sits atop other columns. Continue scrolling, and you’ll notice that it remains in view no matter how far you move away from its former neighbors, column B and C.
To reverse these changes and return to normal, click on Unfreeze Panes. Then, try out the Freeze Top Row option. You’ll see that it functions the same way. The first row, row 1, jumps atop all other rows, thereby remaining in view no matter how far down you scroll.
The true power of the feature emerges with the Freeze Panes button itself. Imagine now that you want to freeze the first three columns in your worksheet. It’s very easy. The first three columns are A, B, and C. To freeze them, click on column D’s label to select the entire column. Then, click Freeze Panes.
When you scroll, you’ll see that all three columns remain in view. The trick is to select the first column to the right of those that you want to freeze.
You can also use this feature to freeze multiple rows. When you do that, highlight the row immediately below those that you want to freeze. Then, repeat the earlier step of clicking Freeze Panes.
As you can see, Freeze Panes is a versatile feature that helps make large and complex spreadsheets more useful. It’s almost effortless and helps you stay on track.