Freeze Columns in Excel
MS Excel or Microsoft Excel is powerful spreadsheet software that helps users record large amounts of financial data. An Excel workbook consists of several worksheets where each sheet can store large data records within multiple cells. When working with very large data sets within an Excel worksheet, it often becomes difficult to track, remember or compare the information. When we work around common data sets around the sheet and navigate to the very right side of the worksheet, we may not see the corresponding headings. This is where freeze columns can be helpful.
In this tutorial, we will learn various step-by-step methods that will help us to lock or freeze columns in Excel. We implement these methods using Excel 2010; however, they can be used similarly in other versions of MS Excel as well. Before we move on to the methods, let us first briefly discuss the use of the Freeze Columns feature and how it can help us increase the readability of our Excel worksheets.
What is the Freeze Columns feature in Excel?
Freezing Excel columns is one of the useful features to increase the readability and productivity of data within a worksheet. It helps in comparing or reading data from different parts of the sheet with easy navigation. Freezing an Excel column typically locks or freezes the position of the column so that it doesn't scroll through the database while navigating the sheet. When a column freezes, it simply locks its place while navigation through the other columns works normally.
For example, suppose we have an Excel sheet with the required headings in the first column and its relevant data in the corresponding columns. If we navigate through the sheet to the right, our headings in the first column will be hidden on the left side of the sheet, making the relevant data difficult to read or compare. Navigating the sheet left and right repeatedly would be time-consuming. If we freeze the entire first column to the left, we can scroll through the sheet, reading the relevant data according to the corresponding headings. In that case, we don't need to scroll the left side to read the headings.
Note: When we freeze one or more columns within the worksheet, they remain visible or fixed only for the horizontal movements. If we scroll or navigate the worksheet downwards, the column values will also move vertically for the corresponding rows.
How to freeze columns in Excel?
When working with large data sets, there may be cases when we may need to freeze columns. Usually, we may need to freeze either one column or more than one column in a sequence. Fortunately, we can freeze single or multiple columns in Excel without limiting the number of columns to be frozen. Because of this, Excel gives a more productive presentation, allowing us to read or compare data within a worksheet easily.
Let us discuss both the use-cases when we may need to freeze a column in Excel, including all the steps for freezing columns:
Freeze Single (side-Left) Column in Excel
Excel allows us to freeze a single column in an entire sheet. Depending on the requirement, we can choose to freeze the column from the beginning or middle of the sheet. Technically, when we need to freeze a column, Excel gives the option to freeze only the first column. The first column does not literally refer to the first column of the worksheet. Instead, it targets or refers to the first column that appears as the first column (side-left column) in the active or visible area of the Excel window on the screen.
For example, if our Excel window displays Column B as the first column in the visible area, it will be used as the first column for the Freezing tool. Therefore, we must place the desired column in the most side-left area of the visible Excel window before following the steps mentioned below:
In the above worksheet, we can see that column B is still visible on the far left side of the Excel window even after navigating to the most right side of the sheet. It's important to note that columns before Locked/Fixed/Frozen columns may not be visible. As in our example, column A is not visible.
Freeze Set of Columns in Excel
Excel also provides the option to freeze more than one column within a worksheet. However, there are some limitations. We cannot freeze non-contiguous (non-adjacent) columns. If we want to freeze multiple columns, they must be in a sequence. Also, Excel does not offer the flexibility of freezing columns from the middle of worksheets. This means that we cannot freeze any random set of columns in the middle of the sheet. Instead, we need to freeze all the columns between the desired column and the first column of the worksheet. For example, we generally cannot freeze columns B to E. We have to include column A and freeze all columns from A to E, and so on. If we strictly try to freeze column B to E, the data in column A which stays before the selected column set, will not be displayed in the sheet.
To freeze a set of columns or multiple columns (i.e., from column A to E), we can perform the following steps:
Unfreezing an Excel Column or Multiple Columns
There may be cases when we have frozen the wrong columns, or we no longer need frozen columns in the worksheet. In such cases, it's easy to unfreeze one or more columns in an Excel worksheet. We can follow the below steps and unfreeze the locked column in one go:
Important Points to Remember