How to lock a column in Excel – our guide to protecting columns

Here's our step-by-step guide on locking columns in Excel!

Reviewed By: Kevin Pocock

Last Updated on July 15, 2024
A screenshot of a computer application showing a locked column in Excel.
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If you want to know how to lock a column in Excel, we’ve got you covered right here.

Microsoft Excel has a great feature that allows you to share your spreadsheets with others, but sometimes, your co-workers can accidentally make edits to the wrong column. To prevent this from happening, you can lock certain columns on your spreadsheet. But how you ask?

This is where we come in. In this guide, we will explain how to lock a column in Excel so you don’t have to worry about your co-workers making any mistakes.

1

How you can lock a column in Excel

Locking a column in Excel is a pretty straightforward process, and here’s how you can do it.

Step

1

Unprotect your spreadsheet

Before you start locking specific columns in your spreadsheet, you first need to unprotect the worksheet. Otherwise, you cannot edit any of the cells on your sheet and lock certain areas while leaving others unlocked.

So, first, head to the Review menu. You can find the Review tab button at the top ribbon menu of the Excel window. It is between the Data and View menu buttons.

Once you have opened the Review menu, you will need to find the ‘Unprotect Sheet’ button. This will be in the ‘Changes’ section of the menu on the right hand side, and will have an icon of a gold lock and a spreadsheet. Select it, and input the protected password if prompted.

How to create a workbook in Excel and lock columns.

This will unlock the whole spreadsheet and allow you to start making changes.

Step

2

Select the column

First, click and drag your cursor over all of the cells in the column. This will turn them all a gray or light blue color, indicating that they have been selected.

On your highlighted column, you will need to right click using your cursor and then select ‘Format Cells’ from the drop down menu that appears. Or, you can just press down the Control, Shift, and F buttons on your keyboard. 

A screenshot of a computer with a locked column in Excel.

Step

3

Lock the column

In the Format Cells menu, go to the Protection tab, and check the box next to Locked. This will lock the column in Excel.

A screenshot of a computer with a lock column in Excel.

If you want to lock separate columns, then you will have to repeat this process for each one.

Conclusion

And that is how you can lock an entire column in Microsoft Excel. The same process works for locking rows, single cells, and columns, so you can easily share your spreadsheet knowing that others cannot make changes to certain areas.

Learn more about Excel and its functions through these helpful guides:

Kevin is the Editor of PC Guide. He has a broad interest and enthusiasm for consumer electronics, PCs and all things consumer tech - and more than 15 years experience in tech journalism.