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How to Freeze Rows and Columns in Excel

Microsoft Excel How to Freeze and Unfreeze Columns
(Image credit: Microsoft)

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

Freezing rows and columns in Excel makes navigating your spreadsheet much easier. When done correctly, the chosen panes are locked in place; this means those specific rows are always visible, no matter how far you scroll down. More often than not, you'll only freeze a couple of rows or a column, but Excel doesn't limit how many of either you can freeze, which can come in handy for larger 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

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 5, so we've selected row 6.

Microsoft Excel How to Freeze and Unfreeze Columns

(Image credit: Future)

2. Go to the View tab. This is located at the very top, inbetween "Review" and "Add-ins."

3. Select the Freeze Panes option and click "Freeze Panes." This selection can be found in the same place where "New Window" and "Arrange All" are located.

Microsoft Excel How to Freeze and Unfreeze Columns

(Image credit: Future)

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.

Microsoft Excel How to Freeze and Unfreeze Columns

(Image credit: Future)

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

Microsoft Excel How to Freeze and Unfreeze Columns

(Image credit: Future)

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 and How to Use VLOOKUP in Excel.