Oct 21 2008

Protect Cell Formats

I received a comment from a reader the other day asking this question: How can I protect the formatting of a sheet without preventing changes to the cell contents? In other words, she wanted to the sheet’s users to be able to be able to type in numbers, but not mess up her border, fonts and background colors. This Excel tip can be done in just a few easy steps. Let’s take a look at how it can be done.

Format the Sheet
The first thing you want to do is go ahead and format the sheet they way you want it to look.  Add borders, cell shading, bold, italics, anything.  Once you finish this walkthrough, you won’t have to worry about setting it again.
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Unlock the Cells
Excel provides an easy way to unlock your cells for editing. 

  1. Select all the cells you want users to be able to edit. 
  2. Right click and select Format Cells from the right-click menu. 
  3. Click on the last tab, “Protection” and uncheck the “Locked” checkbox (it is checked by default.

You cells are now unlocked and you are ready to protect your sheet.

Protect the Sheet
Protecting the sheet can be done in one easy step.  From the main menu, select Tools–>Protection–>Protect Sheet.  If you want the default settings without a password, just hit OK and your formatting is now protected while still being able to change the cells contents. 

You’ll notice however there are many other options available for you to choose.  Check the options you want the user to be able to do (You’ll notice “Format Cells” is unchecked by default).

  • Select locked cells (Default: Checked)
  • Select unlocked Cells (Default: Checked)
  • Format Cells (Default: Unchecked)
  • Format Columns (Default: Unchecked)
  • Format Rows (Default: Unchecked)
  • Insert Columns (Default: Unchecked)
  • Insert Rows (Default: Unchecked)
  • Insert Hyperlinks (Default: Unchecked)
  • Delete Columns (Default: Unchecked)
  • Delete Rows (Default: Unchecked)
  • Sort (Default: Unchecked)
  • Use AutoFilter (Default: Unchecked)
  • Use PivotTable report (Default: Unchecked)
  • Edit Objects (Default: Unchecked)
  • Edit Scenarios (Default: Unchecked)

The only other decision left to make is whether you want password protection on the sheet as well.  If you don’t put a password on the sheet protection, any user can turn it off the exact way you turned it on.

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