Here’s a quick top for protecting a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet. When you protect a spreadsheet, it prevents other people from making changes or you from accidentally changing the document.

Note that this is NOT the same thing as password protecting a file to keep others out of it. To protect a worksheet, click the Review tab in the top ribbon.

Select Protect Sheet.

When the Protect Sheet window opens, you tick the boxes next to the actions you want to allow users of the worksheet to perform. You can also add a password that allows users to turn off protection.

Here’s what the various options do:

  • Select locked cells – Move the pointer to cells for which the Locked box is checked on the Protection tab of the Format Cells dialog box. By default, users are allowed to select locked cells.
  • Select unlocked cells – Move the pointer to cells for which the Locked box is unchecked on the Protection tab of the Format Cells dialog box. By default, users can select unlocked cells, and they can press the TAB key to move between the unlocked cells on a protected worksheet.
  • Format cells – Change any of the options in the Format Cells or Conditional Formatting dialog boxes. If you applied conditional formatting before you protected the worksheet, the formatting continues to change when a user enters a value that satisfies a different condition.
  • Format columns – Use any of the column formatting commands, including changing column width or hiding columns (Home tab, Cells group, Format button).
  • Format rows – Use any of the row formatting commands, including changing row height or hiding rows (Home tab, Cells group, Format button).
  • Insert columns – Insert columns.
  • Insert rows – Insert rows/
  • Insert hyperlinks – Insert new hyperlinks, even in unlocked cells.
  • Delete columns – Delete columns.
  • Delete rows – Delete rows
  • Sort – Use any commands to sort data (Data tab, Sort & Filter group).
  • Use AutoFilter – Use the drop-down arrows to change the filter on ranges when AutoFilters are applied.
  • Use PivotTable reports – Format, change the layout, refresh, or otherwise modify PivotTable reports, or create new reports.

Edit objects – Doing any of the following:

◾Make changes to graphic objects including maps, embedded charts, shapes, text boxes, and controls that you did not unlock before you protected the worksheet. For example, if a worksheet has a button that runs a macro, you can click the button to run the macro, but you cannot delete the button.

◾Make any changes, such as formatting, to an embedded chart. The chart continues to be updated when you change its source data.

◾Add or edit notes.

Edit scenarios – View scenarios that you have hidden, making changes to scenarios that you have prevented changes to, and deleting these scenarios. Users can change the values in the changing cells, if the cells are not protected, and add new scenarios.