Keep Column and Row Headings On Screen with Freeze Panes

Stay on track with where you are in the spreadsheet

Keep track of where you are in Excel. Ted French

When working with very large spreadsheets, headings located at the top and down the left side of the worksheet often disappear if you scroll too far to the right or too far down. To avoid this problem, use Excel's freeze panes feature. It freezes or locks specific columns or rows of the worksheet so that they remain visible at all times.

Without the headings, it is hard to keep track of which column or row of data you are looking at.

The different options for freeze panes are:

  • Freeze the top row of a worksheet
  • Freeze the first column of the worksheet
  • Freeze a user defined number of both columns and rows
  • Unfreeze columns and rows
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Freezing Just the Top Row of a Worksheet

Freezing the Top Row with Freeze Panes in Excel
Freezing Just the Top Row. © Ted French
  1. Open a worksheet containing multiple rows and columns of data.
  2. Click on the View tab of the ribbon.
  3. Click on the Freeze Panes option in the center area of the ribbon to open the freeze pane drop down menu.
  4. Click on Freeze Top Row option in the menu.
  5. A black border should appear beneath row 1 in the worksheet indicating that the area above the line has been frozen.
  6. Scroll down through the worksheet. If you scroll far enough, the rows below row 1 will begin disappearing while row 1 will stay on the screen.
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Freeze Just the First Column of a Worksheet

Freezing the First Column of a Worksheet with Freeze Panes
Freezing the First Column of a Worksheet. © Ted French
  1. Click on the View tab of the ribbon.
  2. Click on Freeze Panes in the middle of the ribbon to open the drop down list.
  3. Click on Freeze First Column option in the list.
  4. A black border should appear to the right of column A in the worksheet indicating that the area to the right of the line has been frozen.
  5. Scroll to the right in the worksheet. If you scroll far enough, the columns to the right of column A will begin disappearing while column A will stay on the screen.
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Freeze Both Columns and Rows of A Worksheet

Freeze Both Columns and Rows of A Worksheet with Freeze Panes in Excel
Freeze Both Columns and Rows of A Worksheet. © Ted French

The Freeze Panes option freezes all the rows above the active cell and all the columns to the left of the active cell.

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.

Example of Freezing Panes Using the Active Cell

To keep rows 1, 2, and 3 on the screen and columns A and B:

  1. Click in cell C4 with the mouse to make it the active cell.
  2. Click on the View tab of the ribbon.
  3. Click on Freeze Panes in the middle of the ribbon to open the drop down list.
  4. Click on the Freeze Panes option in the list to freeze both columns and rows.
  5. A black border should appear to the right of column B in the worksheet and below row 3 indicating that the areas above and to the right of the lines have been frozen.
  6. Scroll to the right in the worksheet. If you scroll far enough, the columns to the right of column B will begin disappearing while columns A and B will stay on the screen.
  7. Scroll down through the worksheet. If you scroll far enough, the rows below row 3 will begin disappearing while rows 1, 2, and 3 will stay on the screen.
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Unfreezing All Columns and Rows of a Worksheet

Unfreezing All Columns and Rows in Excel
Unfreezing All Columns and Rows. © Ted French
  1. Click on the View tab of the ribbon.
  2. Click on Freeze Panes icon on the ribbon to open the freeze pane drop down list.
  3. Click on Unfreeze Panes option in the menu.
  4. The black border(s) showing the frozen columns and rows should disappear from the worksheet.
  5. When you scroll to the right or down in the worksheet, the headings in the top rows and in the left most columns disappear off the screen.
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