Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Excel in Microsoft 365, and 2021. If you are using an earlier version (Excel 2003 or earlier), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for earlier versions of Excel, click here: Protecting a Worksheet's Format.

Protecting a Worksheet's Format

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated March 19, 2022)
This tip applies to Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Excel in Microsoft 365, and 2021


Klara knows how to protect the contents of a worksheet by protecting cells. She wonders, however, if there is a way to protect only the format. She's not too concerned if the content changes, but she wants to protect the format.

You can easily protect the formatting of the worksheet, without regard for the contents. Just follow these steps:

  1. Select all the cells in the worksheet.
  2. Display the Home tab of the ribbon.
  3. Click Format in the Cells group, and then choose Format Cells. Excel displays the Format Cells dialog box.
  4. Make sure the Protection tab is displayed. (See Figure 1.)
  5. Figure 1. The Protection tab of the Format Cells dialog box.

  6. Clear the Locked checkbox.
  7. Click on OK to close the dialog box.
  8. With the Home tab of the ribbon still displayed, click Format in the Cells group, and then choose Protect Sheet. Excel displays the Protect Sheet dialog box. (See Figure 2.)
  9. Figure 2. The Protect Sheet dialog box.

  10. Clear the Format Cells check box.
  11. You do not need to change any information in the dialog box, nor enter a password. Just click on OK.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (11601) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Excel in Microsoft 365, and 2021. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Excel here: Protecting a Worksheet's Format.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

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