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An Excel spreadsheet has data that extends to many rows and columns. When you scroll down or move sideways, the row header and the first column are hidden, sometimes making it difficult to view the data you need.

To improve readability, you need to keep an area of a worksheet visible while you scroll or move the worksheet left or right. You can lock the first row and the first column so that the headers remain, which makes data readable.

The Excel Freeze Panes option means you can keep one section readable at all times. The column or row you need remains on the screen.

Select the option View → Freeze Panes → Freeze Top Row to freeze the top row, and the option View → Freeze Panes → Freeze First Column to freeze the first column.

Freezing top row in Excel

In the example above, the spreadsheet has the columns Product, Branch, Salesperson, and Sales. When you is scroll down, the row header is hidden, and only the values are visible.

When you look at a value, say $125, you may not understand what that is and the parameter it is referring to. You need to scroll up to the row header to understand that it is the sales figure for the product Computer Case in February.

This is where freezing the row comes in handy. Go to View, and in the Window group, select Freeze Panes, and then select, Freeze Top Row. Now scroll, and you will find that the row header remains constant, and you can see what each cell relates to.

The same applies to column data. When you move the spreadsheet across columns, the first column is hidden. When you are interested in viewing the sales in February, move the columns near the first column where the products are listed. It is more readable as you get the sales data near the product name itself.

The feature of locking a row or a column in Excel is useful when there is a huge database with hundreds of columns and rows.

Freeze Panes in Excel

What if you want to freeze both the row and the column? The Freeze panes function in Excel will lock a specific row and column in place, and you can scroll both the rows and columns without the headers getting hidden.

Freezing first column in Excel

Place the cursor at the cell you want to move, and select the option View → Freeze Panes → Freeze Panes. This will keep the cells static that are before the selected cells. In the example above, the cursor is placed at cell D2, and the option to freeze is enabled.

When you move column-wise, the columns from D are dynamic, and columns A, B, and C remain static. Also, the rows from the second row are dynamic, and the first row or the row header is locked.

A thin line appears between rows 1 and 2 and between columns, C and D. This separates the panes locking row 1, as well as columns A, B, and C.

how to freeze panes in Excel

Example of frozen panes in Excel

Freeze Top Row or First Column, or Multiple Rows and Columns

The top row is the row header containing the name of each column, describing what data would follow in the sheet downwards. You can freeze the top row by following this step, select View → Freeze Panes → Freeze Top Row. A thin line appears between rows 1 and 2, and you can scroll the sheet with a fixed row header.

How to freeze panes in Excel

Similarly, you can freeze the first column by following this step, select View → Freeze Panes → Freeze First Column.

Freezing multiple panes in Excel

We’ve looked at how to freeze a row in Excel, as well as a column. If you wish to freeze the first two columns or rows, or it can be a situation where you wish to freeze two or more rows and columns, what would you do?

Other than locking the first row and the first column, you can lock more than two rows and columns for better readability and ease of use. Place the cursor on a cell from where you wish to freeze. For instance, if you want to look at the rows from R8 onwards, keeping the first 7 rows locked, and in the column space, you wish to lock the first 2 columns, place the cursor in cell C8, and select the option View → Freeze Panes → Freeze Pane.

Dynamic panes in Excel worksheet

You can notice a thin grey line appearing after row R7 and column B. This separates the static and dynamic panes in your worksheet.

Unfreeze Panes Excel

To unlock the rows and columns, select the option View → Freeze Panes → Unfreeze Panes.

Unfreeze panes in Excel

Other Options to Improve Readability

Besides freeze panes in Excel, there are other options to improve readability. Let’s look at each of these options.

Improve readability in Excel

1 – Split
This option divides the window into different panes that each scroll separately.

2 – Hide Window
It hides the current window.

3 – Unhide Window
Unhides any window that’s hidden by the hide feature.

4 – View Side by Side
Instead of toggling back and forth between workbooks, this option allows you to view them side by side to make comparisons.

5 – Synchronous Scrolling
This allows you to scroll two documents at the same time. This feature allows you to compare documents line by line or scan for differences. To use this feature, turn on View Side by Side.

6 – Reset Window Position
You can place the documents that you are comparing side by side, so they share the screen equally. You need to turn on the View Side by Side feature before working with this option.

There’s another option in the Window group, New Window. This option allows you to open another window of your Excel book so you can work in different places at the same time. After opening two or more windows, you can arrange them in a way that is convenient for you to read and compare.

Reset window position Excel

The Arrange All feature gives you the option to arrange the windows in the style you want. It allows you to stack your open windows, so you can see all of them at once. You can arrange them in any of the following ways; tiled, horizontal, vertical, or cascade.

Excel arrange all feature

Switch Windows – It quickly switches to another open window so that you can view it side by side.

Excel switch windows icon

How to Print a Header on Each Page in Excel

When you have the header row frozen, you can easily scroll up and down the document without losing the column titles. But, when you have to print the document, the top row is printed only on the first page. The following steps explain how to print the header on each page in Excel.

Step 1: Select Page Layout, and in the Page Setup group, select Print Titles. Once the page setup dialog box appears, you should see four tabs, Page, Margins, Header/Footer, and Sheet.

Step 2: Go to the Sheet tab and select Rows to repeat at the top.

Step 3: It opens a dialogue box and finds the rows with column titles.

Step 4: Next, click the Collapse Dialog icon
Collapse dialog icon

Step 5: Go back to the Page Setup dialog box.

Step 6: Click on Print Preview.

Step 7: Scroll the sheet, and you can find the column title on all the sheets.

Print header on each page in Excel


  1. What are methods you can use to freeze panes?
    The Window group in the View tab has freeze pane options. It provides three options: Freeze Panes, Freeze Top Row, and Freeze First Column. It freezes the part of the workbook either on top or left of the active cell or both.
  2. When can’t you freeze the panes in Excel?
    The most common reason why you can’t freeze the part of the workbook is that your Excel file is not in normal file preview mode.
  3. How to freeze a row in Excel?
    Place a cursor on a row and select the option View → Freeze Panes → Freeze Top Row. The rows above the active cell where the cursor was placed freeze.

Final Thoughts

Most of the users who work in Excel are not aware of how to freeze panes in Excel. Most of them would scroll repetitively up, down, or sideways to look at the headers. This simple feature, the option to freeze panes in Excel, makes for a better user experience.

Learning such shortcuts and features can save a lot of time. You can learn Excel formulas, list and guide, and master new skills. Check out our courses in Excel and Microsoft Office Applications to learn more about Excel functions and formulas. You can enroll in all these courses on our website and earn micro-credentials when you complete these courses.