Freezing panes in Excel

Excel offers a few extremely helpful user interface features that make viewing our sheet easy: zooming and freezing panes. In this tutorial, we'll take a look at both of these features to get a feel for how they can help us navigate our sheets.

Zooming in and out

Our Excel sheets can contain quite a bit of data, and often it's helpful to be able to zoom in and out to either magnify data, or fit more data on the screen. Fortunately, Excel makes zooming easy: we can do it using the slider on the bottom-right of the screen:

Zoom slider

We'll drag this slider to the right to zoom in:

Zoom in

And drag it to the left to zoom out:

Zoom out

If we want to set a specific zoom level, we can also click the current zoom level (by default, 100%), which is shown next to the zoom bar on the bottom-right hand side of the screen. Hitting this button will open up a zoom options box that allows us to select a specific level of zoom for our sheet. Choosing the 100% zoom option will reset zoom settings to the Excel default.

Zoom settings

Freeze panes

When we're working with large sheets of data, it's easy to forget what pieces of data certain rows and columns represent. Check out the following screenshot, for example, in which we've scrolled around a large data set. We've got data on the screen, but we're not sure which column headings correspond to which columns:

Unclear data

To fix this problem, Excel has a handy feature called Freeze Panes. Let's scroll back up to the top of our sheet and position our cursor directly below and to the right of the rows and columns that are important to keep when we scroll:

Freeze panes cursor position

Then, we'll head to the View tab and select the Freeze panes option from the Freeze panes menu: Freeze panes menu

Magically, the top rows and left columsn of our sheet are frozen in place when we scroll. Reading our chart is now much, much easier:

Frozen panes

If we decide that we no longer want our panes frozen, we can select the Unfreeze Panes option from the same menu:

Unfreezing panes

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