Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. If you are using a later version (Excel 2007 or later), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for later versions of Excel, click here: Protecting Your Conditional Formatting Rules.

Protecting Your Conditional Formatting Rules

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated January 1, 2020)
This tip applies to Excel 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003


Larry wrote about a problem he was encountering with protecting a worksheet he developed. He has cells that contain both formulas and conditional formatting. He can protect both of them in a worksheet, but if someone selects a cell and copies it to another worksheet, the conditional formatting is visible.

When you copy a protected cell from one sheet to another, if the formulas in the source cell were hidden in the protection process, then the results of the formulas are pasted, unprotected, into the target cells. This is probably no big deal, as you wanted the formulas—not the results—protected.

Excel is not as protective about conditional formats, however. The conditional formats of the cells that you paste, since they are in an unprotected worksheet, can be viewed and modified, as desired. This can be a problem if the conditional formats contain formulas that you want to also keep private.

The only way around this problem is to disable the ability to copy anything from your protected worksheet. You do this through the use of a macro, added to the worksheet object, that would disable copying.

Private Sub Worksheet_Deactivate()
    Application.CutCopyMode = False
End Sub

This macro works because anytime the worksheet is deactivated (meaning, the target worksheet is selected), then CutCopyMode is set to False. This results in the "marching ants" that appeared around the source cells when the user pressed Ctrl+C being removed, and pasting is therefore no longer possible. Copying and pasting on the same worksheet is still fine; just not to a different (unprotected) worksheet.

Note:

If you would like to know how to use the macros described on this page (or on any other page on the ExcelTips sites), I've prepared a special page that includes helpful information. Click here to open that special page in a new browser tab.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (3301) applies to Microsoft Excel 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Excel (Excel 2007 and later) here: Protecting Your Conditional Formatting Rules.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

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