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How to Freeze Rows and Columns in Excel

(Image credit: Microsoft)

When you're working with a lot of spreadsheet data on your laptop, it can be difficult  of keeping track of everything. I mean, it's one thing to compare one or two rows of information when it's a small subset of data, but when it's 10 rows or more, things can get unwieldy. And we haven't even started talking about columns yet. When your spreadsheets become too unwieldy, there's only one solution: freeze the rows and columns. 

Freeze Panes Microsoft Excel

(Image credit: Future)

Freezing the rows and columns in Excel is pretty simple and it makes navigating your spreadsheet so much easier. When it's done correctly, the chosen panes within Excel's freeze panes are locked in place. That means those specific rows so they're always visible when you scroll. More often than not, you'll probably only freeze 1 or 2 rows or column, but Excel doesn't limit how many of either you can freeze, which can come in handy for larger, data-heavy sheets. 

This how-to works with Microsoft Excel 2016 as well as later versions. However, the this method also works with Google Sheets, OpenOffice and LibreOffice. Ready to get to work? Here's how to freeze rows and columns in Excel.

How to freeze a row in Excel

There are two quick steps to freezing or locking rows.

1. Select the row right below the row or rows you want to freeze. If you want to freeze columns, select the cell immediately to the right of the column you want to freeze. In this example, we want to freeze rows 1 to 6, so we've selected row 7.

2. Go to the View tab

3. Select the Freeze Panes command and choose "Freeze Panes."

That's all there is to it. As you can see in our example, the frozen rows will stay visible when you scroll down. You can tell where the rows were frozen by the green line dividing the frozen rows and the rows below them.

If you want to unfreeze the rows, go back to the Freeze Panes command and choose "Unfreeze Panes".

Note that under the Freeze Panes command, you can also choose "Freeze Top Row," which will freeze the top row that's visible (and any others above it) or "Freeze First Column," which will keep the leftmost column visible when you scroll horizontally.

Besides allowing you to compare different rows in a long spreadsheet, the freeze panes feature lets you keep important information, such as table headings, always in view.

Need more Excel tricks? Check out our tutorials on How to Lock Cells in Excel, How to Use VLOOKUP in Excel and our Excel tips roundup to boost your productivity in a big way.