How to Freeze Column and Row Headings in Excel

Freeze panes to keep track of where you are in a spreadsheet

Economist working on her laptop with a spreadsheet

Getty Images/Manuel Breva Colmeiro

When working with large Excel spreadsheets, the column and row 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, you can use Excel's built-in Freeze Panes feature. Freezing panes locks specific columns or rows in place so that no matter where you scroll they're always visible on the top or side of the sheet.

For example, if Row 1 of your sheet has contact details like Name, Address, Email Address, Phone Number, etc., and there are hundreds of rows of data, you can freeze the top frame so that no matter how far down you scroll, the headings are still visible.

There are a few different options when freezing panes in Excel and they include:

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

Freezing the Top Row with Freeze Panes in Excel

Freezing the top row of a worksheet is a great way to keep your Excel headings visible at all times. Follow these three easy steps to get that header to stay in place:e

  1. Click View on the ribbon.
  2. Click Freeze Panes.
  3. Click Freeze Top Row.

A border appears just below Row 1 to indicate that the area above the line has been frozen. If you have data in Row 1, you can see that it remains visible even as you scroll down because the entire row is pinned to the top of Excel.

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Freeze Just the First Column of a Worksheet

Freezing the First Column of a Worksheet with Freeze Panes

In addition to freezing the first row of a worksheet, you can also freeze the first column just as easily.

  1. Click View in the menu.
  2. Click Freeze Panes.
  3. Click Freeze First Column.

The entire Column A area is frozen, indicated by the black border between Column A and B. Enter some data into Column A and scroll to the right, and you'll see the data move with you.

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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

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 that should remain on the screen at all times, click the cell to the right of the columns and just below the rows.

Below is an example where we'll keep Rows 1, 2, 3, and 4 on the screen and also freeze Column A.

To know which cell to click, count up one from the rows and columns you want to freeze.

  1. Click cell C5.
  2. Click View from the menu.
  3. Click Freeze Panes.

A black crisscross of lines is now located on the sheet to show which panes are frozen. The rows above the horizontal line are stuck to the top of the sheet, and the columns to the left of the vertical line are stuck to the left side.

Similar to freezing just the top frame or just the left column, freezing both keeps all the data visible when it's located in the frozen areas.

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How to Unfreeze Columns and Rows in Excel

Unfreezing All Columns and Rows in Excel

Use the Freeze Panes menu to quickly unfreeze all the panes in Excel. The data in the frames will remain, but the row(s) and/or column(s) that were frozen will return to their original positions.

To do this, go to View Unfreeze Panes.