Freeze Panes to Make Excel Spreadsheets Easier to Use

Excel is one of the most popular applications for both the home and office in Microsoft’s suite of productivity software. Functioning as a kind of two-dimensional database, Excel can help you store any information you need to keep track of.

The only problem with Excel occurs when your spreadsheet contains more than just a few columns and rows. While scrolling through your data, you can easily lose track of what data is contained in the columns and rows forcing you to scroll all the way to top or all the way to the left just to see what data you are looking at. By freezing panes, you can avoid this confusion and work more efficiently.
Why Freeze Panes?

One feature missing from Excel is the ability to permanently rename the columns and rows as you can in other specialized applications. Excel only give you generic A, B, C, etc. column and 1, 2, 3, etc. row designations. If you are like most spreadsheet users, you use the top row and first column to give your rows and columns useful headings.

When you freeze panes, you make it so the first column or top row do not move with the rest of the spreadsheet as you scroll either up and down or left and right. This way, you can keep track of your column or row headings and you can avoid having to scroll to see if you are in the right column or row. In addition, you can even create custom panes and freeze them so you always have the information you need in front of you.
Freeze Top Row

The most common use of Excel’s Freeze Pane feature is to freeze the top row that contains the column headings in the spreadsheet. To freeze the top row, begin by clicking on the View tab on the Ribbon and locating the large section titled Window. Locate and click on the button titled Freeze Panes.


You’ll notice that you have three options. Click on the second option titled Freeze Top Row.


Notice that Excel indicates the freezing of the top row with a solid black line between rows 1 and 2. You should also notice that as you scroll down the spreadsheet, the top row stays where it is while all of the other rows scroll. To unfreeze the top row, click on the Freeze Panes button on the Ribbon and select the Unfreeze Panes button.
Freeze First Column

Although less popular then freezing the top row, you can also freeze the first column in the same way. Click on the Freeze Panes button again on the Ribbon and this time select the button titled Freeze First Column.


Notice, again, that Excel indicates the frozen pane with a black line but this time you will find it between columns 1 and 2. Also notice that as you scroll left and right, the first column stays where it is while all of the other columns scroll. To unfreeze the first column, click on the Freeze Panes button on the Ribbon and select the Unfreeze Panes Button.
Freeze Custom Panes

The second and third buttons on the Freeze Panes menu described above are really only there for your convenience because those are the two most common panes frozen in Excel. You can actually freeze any cells you want to create custom panes. You can even freeze a combination of both rows and columns.

To create a custom frozen pane, click on any cell in your spreadsheet. Now click on the Freeze Panes button on the Ribbon and this time click on the button titled Freeze Panes.


You will notice that Excel froze the cells to the left and above the active cell. Using this method, you can simultaneously freeze both the rows and columns you want. To unfreeze your custom pane, click on the Freeze Panes button on the Ribbon and select the Unfreeze Panes Button.

Freezing panes in Excel can help make large spreadsheets more management by eliminating the need to constantly scroll to the top or left to see the headings of the cells in which you are working.

Although Excel gives you the option to freeze only the top row and the first column, you can select any cell, choose Freeze Panes from the Ribbon, and create your own custom pane.

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