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 a Worksheet's Format.

Protecting a Worksheet's Format

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated April 20, 2016)

Klara knows how to protect the contents of a worksheet by protecting cells. She wonders, however, if there is a way to protect only the format. She's not too concerned if the content changes, but she wants to protect the format.

You can easily protect the formatting of the worksheet, without regard for the contents. Just follow these steps:

  1. Select all the cells in the worksheet.
  2. Choose Cells from the Format menu. Excel displays the Format Cells dialog box.
  3. Make sure the Protection tab is displayed. (See Figure 1.)
  4. Figure 1. The Protection tab of the Format Cells dialog box.

  5. Clear the Locked checkbox.
  6. Click on OK to close the dialog box.
  7. Choose Protection from the Tools menu, and then choose Protect Sheet from the submenu. Excel displays the Protect Sheet dialog box. (See Figure 2.)
  8. Figure 2. The Protect Sheet dialog box.

  9. If you see a Format Cells check box in the dialog box (it isn't there in all versions of Excel), make sure it cleared.
  10. You do not need to change any information in the dialog box, nor enter a password. Just click on OK.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (3515) 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 a Worksheet's Format.

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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