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Excel Guide

How to Lock Formulas in Excel: A Step-by-Step Guide

If you've ever created complex formulas in Excel, you know the frustration of someone accidentally changing or deleting cells used in the formula. By locking formulas in Excel, you can protect them from such unintentional modifications. Here's a step-by-step guide on how to lock formulas in Excel.

Step 1: Protect the Sheet

  1. Click on the Review tab on the Excel ribbon.
  2. Click the Protect Sheet button. A dialog box will appear.
  3. In the Protect Sheet dialog box:
  4. Check the Select locked cells checkbox to prevent changes to locked cells (formulas).
  5. Optionally, check the Select unlocked cells checkbox to prevent changes to any cells, locked or not.
  6. Choose a password for added security (optional).
  7. Click OK. You may be asked to re-enter the password for confirmation.

Step 2: Specify Which Cells Contain Formulas

  1. Select the cells containing formulas.
  2. Click on the Format tab on the Excel ribbon.
  3. In the Cells section, click the Format button. A menu will appear.
  4. On the Format menu, click Protection. A dialog box will appear.
  5. In the Protection dialog box:
  6. Uncheck the Locked checkbox. This will unlock the selected cells containing formulas.
  7. Click OK to apply.

Step 3: Test the Protection

  1. Try changing the value of a cell used in a formula. You should see a message stating, "The cell or chart that you're trying to change is protected and therefore read-only."
  2. To change a protected cell, unprotect the sheet:
  3. Click the Review tab.
  4. Click the Unprotect Sheet button.
  5. Enter the password (if used) and click OK.
  6. Make the necessary changes, and then protect the sheet again.


In this guide, you've learned how to lock formulas in Excel by protecting the sheet and specifying which cells contain formulas. Testing the protection ensures that your formulas are secure. If you have any questions, feel free to post a comment.