Excel spreadsheets have a way of growing beyond the boundaries of your computer monitor and, as you navigate through your data, staying oriented becomes more difficult. Freezing cells allows you to keep information on your monitor to help you identify your data when you're not in the upper left corner of your worksheet. Excel 2013 reflects some minor updates, but similar features are available in previous versions.

Restrictions on Freezing

Consider Excel’s limitations when it comes to freezing information. You can only freeze rows along the top and columns along the left side of your worksheet, though you can choose more than one row or column. You cannot freeze a selection in the middle of the spreadsheet, but you can set up several spreadsheet areas that scroll separately using the related Split command. The Freeze Panes command is not available if you are currently editing a cell.

How to Freeze Cells

Select a cell immediately below the row you wish to freeze or a cell to the right of a column. You can choose one cell to freeze both the rows above it and the columns to the left. For example, click on cell C3 to begin freezing two rows and two columns. Select the "View" tab and click "Freeze Panes." Click "Freeze Panes" from the drop-down window to complete the freeze procedure. Thick lines indicate the data area you've frozen.

Using Split to Navigate

Similar to the Freeze Panes function, the Split command lets you divide your worksheet into separate sections that are independently navigable using scroll bars on screen or the scroll wheel on your mouse. As with Freeze Panes, select the cell below and to the right of the point you wish to split. Click the "View" tab and then click "Split." Your worksheet is now divided at your selection point. Both sections still have access to the entire worksheet, but each can scroll to its own area without affecting the other section.

Printing Considerations

Freezing panes allows easy navigation on-screen but the format benefit is lost when you print a worksheet that requires multiple pages. By default, title columns and rows print at the logical locations for each. To print titles on each page, click the "Page Layout" tab, and then click "Print Titles." On the Sheet tab, you can enter both row and column information in the boxes under Print Titles to establish which data prints on each sheet of your hard copies.