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“Freeze Panes” in Excel

In Microsoft Excel, column and row headings are quite useful … unless you can’t see them.

Suppose you are planning your golf group’s schedule for the next few months. You enter the names of those in the group in rows down the left-hand column, and you enter the game dates in columns across the top. You place an “X” in some cells to designate who is playing on which date. This is easy, as long as you can see the names on the left and the dates at the top. However, as you scroll to the right to look at the dates further in the future, or you scroll down to find the names at the bottom of the list, you risk losing sight of the headings you need.

There should be a way to hold the column and row headings in place while you scroll through the rest of the sheet.

There is. It’s called “Freeze Panes.”

Click on any cell in your spreadsheet. Then click “Freeze Panes.” (On a Windows computer it’s in the “View” tab; on a Mac, it’s in the “Window” menu). Now scroll vertically and horizontally. The panes above and to the left of the selected cell are fixed, all the other cells will move. Cool.

Now you can freeze the column with your friends’ names and the row with the game dates, making entering the “X” symbols in the correct cells much easier.

A few notes about Freeze Panes:

  • How well this works for you depends on the cell you choose before you click “Freeze Panes.” You might need to do it a few times before you find the best choice.
  • If you wish to re-select the cell, or you are finished with the frozen panes altogether, unfreeze them by clicking “Unfreeze Panes” in the same location as the “Freeze” command.
  • You may not need to freeze panes at all; the number of rows and columns visible before your headings disappear will vary with the size of your screen and your page magnification.

Freezing panes is one of my favorite Excel tools. Try it. It might become one of yours too.