Freezing Both Rows and Columns

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated May 22, 2023)
This tip applies to Excel 2019 and Excel in Microsoft 365


Arvid notes that in older versions of Excel he was able to freeze both a row and a column by selecting a cell at the required intersection. Once done, the left and top portions of the worksheet would remain visible when scrolling. Now Arvid can only find the option to freeze either a row or a column, but not both. He wonders if he is missing something.

Somewhere over the past few versions of Excel, Microsoft changed how you freeze both columns and rows. Actually, they didn't change how you freeze them; they changed how the freezing is displayed in the various options available from the ribbon. Here's how you go about it.

First, select a cell above which you want the rows frozen and to the left of which you want the columns frozen. For instance, if you want to freeze the first 2 rows and leftmost column, choose cell B3.

Now display the View tab of the ribbon and click the Freeze Panes tool. Excel displays some options that you can choose from. (See Figure 1.)

Figure 1. The Freeze Pane Options

It is the very first option—Freeze Panes—that you want to select. If you select either of the other two, then you'll only freeze either the rows above or columns to the left of the select cell.

There is a caveat here, and it could be the cause of the confusion for Arvid. When you click the Freeze Panes tool, what you then see may not match what is shown in the previous figure. It is very possible that the first option will not be Freeze Panes but will instead be Unfreeze Panes. This is the case if there are already frozen panes in the worksheet. (In other words, someone previously chose any of the three options available through the Freeze Panes tool.) Microsoft refers to this ability to modify tool options based on the actual conditions in the workbook as "dynamic menus," and it can throw users for a loop at times.

If you see the Unfreeze Panes option, simply select it (this removes any panes already defined) and then click the Freeze Panes tool one more time and you should see the Freeze Panes option available in that first position.

If you are a keyboard type of person, you can instead use the keystrokes Alt+W, F, F to both freeze and unfreeze panes—it acts as a toggle.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (13616) applies to Microsoft Excel 2019 and Excel in Microsoft 365.

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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What is 3 + 4?

2023-05-10 21:49:43


There is more to freezing columns and rows. For example, if you scroll your display so that the first few columns and/or rows are invisible, then place the cursor in, say, third visible column and third visible row, then click on freeze panes. The two visible rows and columns will be frozen. below and to the right will scroll. But it also means that the invisible columns and rows will be hard to access. You can go-to and edit the invisible cells using the F5 or other Go-To shortcuts, or using arrow keys, but you will not be able to see what is in those cells, except in the Formula Bar.

I use this trick often to hide the help columns and rows that other users do not need to see, and make it hard for them to inadvertently modify the data there. Of course they can unfreeze the panes, but we are talking about inadvertent changes, not intentional.

2019-03-14 15:23:34

John Mann

Resonding to Karen: It is possible to both Freeze Panes and add/edit Headers and Footers, but it takes a slightly devious procedure to add/edit the header and/or footer, either before or after freezing the panes.

Instead of using Page Layout view, stay in Normal view and go to the Page Layout tab on the ribbon, find the Page Setup group and click the down arrow at the bottom right of the group. This opens the Page Setup dialogue box. Click the Header/Footer tab. Use this dialoge box to create or edit the header and footer for the sheet. Clicking the Custom Header or Custom Footer buttons will allow you to create or edit the Header of Footer.

Note that you can go directly to the Print Preview from this dialogue box, but I haven't found a direct way to return from the dialogue box to the Header/Footer dialogue box.

All this can be done without entering Page Layout View and without interfering with any Frozen Panes if they already exist, nor will it prevent you from freezing panes after adding header or footer.

If you try to go into Page Layout View, after freezing panes, then you do get a message advising that Page Layout View is incompatible with Freeze Panes and asking if you would like to unfreeze the panes. I also find that you can use the Page Break Preview without unfreezing panes.

I tested this in Excel 2010.

2019-02-11 13:07:45


I have noticed that if you have a header or footer, Freeze Panes will not work and the option will be grayed out. If you have frozen rows, columns or both and then add a header or footer, your rows and columns are no longer frozen.

2019-02-04 09:57:55


Ah... Gotta love the English language. We don't all process spatial aspects the same way, so one may have to find their own way of remembering how the Freeze Panes feature works relative to the selected cell. I like how John Mann expresses it: "In other words the frozen area is above and left of the selected cell". If it helps, another way to put it is that the selected cell is the top left corner of the scroll (scrollable) area. And don't read too much into the Ribbon icons. I don't think the asterisk was meant to represent the selected cell. (Eg - If one clicks on Freeze Top Row or Freeze First Column, it doesn't matter what cell is selected.)

2019-02-04 09:14:04

MIchael Armstrong

So, if the little icon in the Freeze Panes icon is to be believed, then rows beneath and columns to the right of the selected cell will scroll. Or, put another way, rows equal and above and columns equal and to the left will be frozen.

2019-02-03 19:09:13

John Mann

Allen & Mile,
I wonder if your arguing at cross puropses. If I select cell C3 and then choose "Freeze Panes", the result is rows 1 & 2 are frozen, as are columns A & B In other words the frozen area is above and left of the selected cell

2019-02-03 17:27:42

John Mann

Allen & Mile,
I wonder if your arguing at cross puropses. If I select cell C3 and then choose "Freeze Panes", the result is rows 1 & 2 are frozen, as are columns A & B In other words the frozen area is above and left of the selected cell

2019-02-03 08:59:38


Mike: No, it is above and to the left. It is those areas that are frozen. The areas below and to the right are free to scroll.


2019-02-03 08:23:06


I presume you mean "select a cell BELOW which you want the rows frozen and to the RIGHT of which you want the columns frozen."

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