Locking Worksheet Tab Order

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated July 1, 2023)
This tip applies to Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Excel in Microsoft 365, and 2021


Chuck has a workbook that has a half-dozen worksheets, and they are in an order that is critical to his needs. He wonders if there is a way to lock the position of the worksheet tabs (the worksheet ordering) so that their position cannot be changed.

Yes, this can be done; it is referred to as protecting the structure of a workbook. There are two ways in Excel that you can get to the proper place to enable this protection. Here's the first method, which works just fine in Excel for Microsoft 365.

  1. Display the File tab of the ribbon. This accesses the Backoffice area of Excel.
  2. Click Info at the left side of the screen. Excel displays some options in the middle of the screen.
  3. Click Protect Workbook. Excel displays a drop-down list of protection options.
  4. Click Protect Workbook Structure. Excel displays the Protect Structure and Windows dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  5. Figure 1. The Protect Structure and Windows dialog box.

If the above steps don't work in your version of Excel, you can follow these alternative steps. (These steps are actually easier, so you may want to follow them anyway.)

  1. Display the Review tab of the ribbon.
  2. Click the Protect Workbook tool, in the Protect group. Excel displays the Protect Structure and Windows dialog box.

With the Protect Structure and Windows dialog box displayed—regardless of how you get there—all you need to do is make sure the Structure check box is selected. (It should be selected by default.) Then, provide a password, if desired. Clicking on OK results in being asked for the password a second time (if you provided one to begin with), and then your workbook structure is protected.

With the workbook structure protected, Chuck's desire to have the worksheet order locked is effected. In addition, Excel won't allow users to hide or unhide worksheets, add or delete worksheets, or rename worksheets. Otherwise, you can use Excel as normal. If you later want to make changes to the workbook structure, you'll need to follow the steps above to unlock the workbook.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (13898) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Excel in Microsoft 365, and 2021.

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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