How to Freeze Panes in Microsoft Excel

When you’re working on an expansive spreadsheet that is getting out of hand, it can be frustrating when you scroll through a table, lose sight of the horizontal or vertical label and no longer know which entry you’re looking at.

That’s where freeze panes come to the rescue! Setting up freeze panes allows you to keep the horizontal and vertical labels ‘frozen’ on the page so that when scrolling you don’t lose site of important data.

Using freeze panes is incredibly easy on modern versions of Microsoft Excel, there’s a button that allows you to freeze and unfreeze in two clicks. You can find the button under the ‘View’ tab, in the ‘Window Section’ – helpfully called ‘Freeze Panes’.

Microsoft Excel Tutorial

Clicking the button brings up three options:

  • Freeze Panes
  • Freeze Top Row
  • Freeze First Column

Microsoft Excel Tutorial

The second two options are self explanatory. They’re the simplest it you only want the top row or first column frozen. However you may want to freeze both at once, or more than one column. To do this you use the top option. Clicking ‘Freeze Panes’ freezes everything above and to the left of the cell you’ve highlighted. So if you want the top row and left column, select cell B2 and click Freeze Panes. Here are some other combinations to help you figure out which cell to select:

  • B2 = Column A and Row 1 are frozen
  • C3 = Columns A and B, Rows 1 and 2 are frozen
  • B3 = Column A, Rows 1 and 2 are frozen
  • F4 = Columns A, B, D, E and Rows 1, 2, 3 are frozen and so on

For a working example, here is a sample spreadsheet set up to track friends on Facebook over a period of time.

Microsoft Excel Tutorial

Up to week 8 you can still see which account the data is referring to. However, once you move on this becomes unclear:

Microsoft Excel Tutorial

If we freeze the top row and first column then we can see them no matter how far along we scroll. To do this, we select cell B2 and click ‘Freeze Panes’. Now when we scroll right the spreadsheet looks like this:

Microsoft Excel Tutorial

Much better when you have mountains of data to go through!

If you found this tutorial useful then have a look through the rest of our Excel Resources, or if you would like to learn more then come on one of our fabulous Excel Training courses in Brighton. Call us on 01273 622272 for more information.


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Andy Trainer

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