Q:  What do large datasets and spring blizzards have in common?

A:  Freezing!


Does that hit too close to home?  Never fear!  I’m here to help.  (Although you’re on your own with shoveling your sidewalk…)

Today, we’re going to talk about how to freeze rows and columns so that they are visible no matter how big your spreadsheet is, or how far you scroll.  Caveat: if you are having trouble with your spreadsheet freezing or moving super slowly (because you have so many data in there), that is outside the scope of this post, but you might find this resource helpful (certain functions and features can make Excel move slower than molasses).

I interrupt this important introduction with an announcement about my webinar series with The Working Families Party and ResistHere!

Last week, I hosted my first – ever – webinar covering Spreadsheets 101 for Changemakers (link to recorded version).  The sound quality isn’t perfect, but it gets better around minute 10.  Plus I learned a lot – to make the next one even better!

I’m excited to announce Webinar #2!  Data for Changemakers 201 ft. the VLOOKUP function.  We’ll use real data with a focus on local electoral campaigns to show how to merge data from two different sources.  Register soon – the webinar runs on Sunday, 3/25 at 7:00!  RSVP at the hyperlink above – or comment if you have any questions.

Ok, back to business: How to freeze rows and columns in Excel and Google Sheets.

But first, why?

  • Have you ever had so many columns in your spreadsheet that when you were scrolling over to see a certain piece of information, you forgot which row you were on?
  • Have you ever had so many rows that when you scrolled down, you forgot which column was which?

I bet if we were all in the same room, there would be a lot of hands in the air and facial expressions like “OMG yes!  This is the worst!”  Lucky for us, we can freeze rows and columns so that they are always visible – in Google Sheets AND in Microsoft Excel.  Here are mini-tutorials about how to do it.


In Google Sheets:  Select the “View” menu, navigate down to “Freeze Rows” and then select how many rows you would like to freeze.  You can navigate to the same area to UN-freeze rows or columns if necessary.

Check out additional documentation here (scroll to the middle of the page for the Freezing part).


In Microsoft Excel:  Select the “View” tab in your toolbar.  You will see a “Freeze Panes” option, and you can select from there whether you would like to freeze one row, one columns, or a custom combination.


Check out additional documentation here.

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