How to protect cells, columns, and rows from accidental editing in Excel

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Most people know that you can protect individual rows, columns, or cells in Excel. You can even protect the entire sheet. What they’re not aware of, however, is that you can protect only specific parts of a spreadsheet, parts that are more than a few columns or rows, but not quite the entire workbook.

This level of protection comes in handy when working with multiple users on the same sheet. Now, you can lock the area you’re responsible for and stop worrying that a collaborator will accidentally edit it.

How to protect cells, columns, and rows from accidental editing

1. Open Excel and select a workbook. For the sake of this tutorial, I’m going to use one of Excel’s default templates. 

2. First we have to unlock the workbook, which is typically locked (as a whole) by default. To do that, press Ctrl + A to select the entire document.

3. Right click and choose Format cells. 

4. Under the Protection tab, uncheck Locked. If it’s not checked by default, you’re ready to go. <uncheck.png>

5. Press OK. 

With your workbook now unlocked, we can set about locking specific areas. For the sake of this tutorial, we’re going to pretend we’re responsible for Column B, C, and D. 

6. Select the area of the workbook you’d like to protect.

7. Right click and select Format cells. Alternatively, you can use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl + 1.

8. Check Locked and press OK.

In an Excel workbook, nothing is ever really locked until you protect the sheet. We’re going to do that next. 

9. Under the Review tab (in the Ribbon), choose Protect Sheet.

10. Add a password (if desired), and choose what you’d like other users to be able to edit in your protected section. If you’d rather them not touch it at all, uncheck each of the boxes and press OK. 

Now, if you try clicking in any of the three columns we protected, nothing happens. Just the way we wanted it.