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Protect targeted formulas in your Excel spreadsheet

Theresa Spiller
February 1, 2022

In addition to the familiar option of protecting a spreadsheet or an entire workbook, Excel also offers the option of only locking cells for editing containing certain formulas. This ensures that formulas are protected while still allowing normal working in the rest of the spreadsheet. Want to know how this works? Then keep reading. 

Protecting Excel formulas is easier than you think

You have created a spreadsheet, maybe from web imported data, with overviews in the form of tables in which cell contents are generated via complex formulas and now want to make this available to team members for further processing. However, it is important to you that you can work in the spreadsheet without changing your formulas.

  1. Select the entire worksheet (Ctrl + A) and then right-click to open the "Format Cells" window.

    protect excel formulas format cells
  2. Select the "Protection" tab and uncheck the "Locked" box.

    protect excel formulas protection tab uncheck locked
  3. Now activate all cells of the spreadsheet that contain formulas by selecting the "Go to" dialog box via "Ctrl + G" and clicking on "Contents" there.

    protect excel formulas open go to window

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  4. Another window will open. You activate the item "Formulas" and select all cells containing formulas you want to lock and protect.

    protect excel activate formulas in go to window
  5. Now open the "Format Cells" dialog box again and select the Protection tab. Check the "Locked" box again, which you unchecked before. Because you have only selected the cells that contain formulas, this format will only be applied to these cells and all other cells will be left out.

  6. In the last step, you now lock the worksheet via the "Review" "Protect Sheet" tab.
    protect excel formulas review tab protect sheetprotect excel formulas protect sheet lock cells

A dialog box opens again. Keep the checkmarks that have been preset here. Now only cells that contain formulas are locked instead of the whole spreadsheet.

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