Freeze Panes in Excel 2003

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Lock Columns and Rows in Excel with Freeze Panes

Lock Columns and Rows in Excel with Freeze Panes
Lock Columns and Rows in Excel with Freeze Panes. © Ted French

It is sometimes difficult to read and understand very large spreadsheets. When you scroll too far to the right or down, you lose the headings that are located at the top and down the left side of the worksheet. Without the headings, it's hard to keep track of which column or row of data you are looking at.

To avoid this problem use the freeze panes feature in Microsoft Excel. It allows you to "freeze" certain areas or panes of the spreadsheet so that they remain visible at all times when scrolling to the right or down. Keeping headings on the screen makes it easier to read your data throughout the entire spreadsheet.

Related tutorial: Excel 2007 / 2010 Freeze Panes.

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Freeze Panes Using the Active Cell

Freeze Panes Using the Active Cell
Freeze Panes Using the Active Cell. © Ted French

When you activate Freeze Panes in Excel, all the rows above the active cell and all the columns to the left of the active cell become frozen.

To freeze only those columns and rows you want to stay on screen, click on the cell to the right of the columns and just below the rows that you want to remain on screen.

For example - to keep rows 1,2, and 3 on the screen and columns A and B, click in cell C4 with the mouse. Then choose Window > Freeze Panes from the menu, as shown in the image above.

Want some more help?

Next, is a short step by step example showing you how to use the freeze feature in Microsoft Excel.

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Using Excel Auto Fill

Using the fill handle to add data
Using the fill handle to add data. © Ted French

To make our freeze pane demonstration a little more dramatic, we will quickly enter some data using Auto Fill so that the effect of freezing panes is easier to see.

Note: The tutorial Customizing Excel Auto Fill shows you how to add your own lists to Auto Fill.

  1. Type "January" in cell D3 and press the ENTER key on the keyboard.
  2. Select cell D3 and use the fill handle in the bottom right corner of cell D3 to auto fill the months of the year ending with October in cell M3.
  3. Type "Monday" in cell C4 and press the ENTER key.
  4. Select cell C4 and use the fill handle to auto fill the days of the week ending with Tuesday in cell C12.
  5. Type a number "1" in cell D4 and a "2" in cell D5.
  6. Select both cells D4 and D5.
  7. Use the fill handle in cell D5 to auto fill down to cell D12
  8. Release the mouse button.
  9. Use the fill handle in cell D12 to auto fill across to cell M12.

The numbers 1 to 9 should fill columns D to M.

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Freezing the Panes

Lock Columns and Rows in Excel with Freeze Panes
Lock Columns and Rows in Excel with Freeze Panes. © Ted French

Now for the easy part:

  1. Click on cell D4
  2. Choose Window > Freeze Panes from the menu

A vertical black line will appear between columns C and D and a horizontal line between rows 3 and 4.

Rows 1 to 3 and columns A to C are the frozen areas of the screen.

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Check the Results

Testing Freeze Panes
Testing Freeze Panes. © Ted French

Use the scroll arrows to see the effect of freezing panes on a spreadsheet.

Scroll Down

  • Use the vertical scroll arrow in Excel to scroll down. Rows 1 to 3 should stay on screen, including the months of the year while the numbers 1 to 9 disappears off the spreadsheet page.

Return to cell D4

  1. Click on the Name Box above column A
  2. Type D4 in the Name Box and press the ENTER key on the keyboard. The active cell becomes D4 once again.

Scroll Across

  • Use the horizontal scroll arrow to scroll to the right. Column A should stay on the screen, including the numbers, while the months of the year disappear off the spreadsheet page.
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