Excel allows you to protect the contents of specific cells in a worksheet. In doing so, you can choose whether users are allowed to select or edit a cell or range of cells, insert or delete rows or columns, alter formatting, and sort and filter, among other options. Exercising this level of control in Excel requires you to do two things: 1) unlock the cells you wish to allow others to edit and 2) enable worksheet protection settings.

To unlock cells, highlight the cells to be unlocked and then right-click and select Format Cells on the context-sensitive menu. On the Protection tab of the Format Cells dialog box, uncheck Locked, as shown in Figure 1. Note that, by default, Excel locks all cells on a worksheet.

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Figure 1 - Unlocking Cells in Excel

Next, select Protect Sheet on the Review tab of the Ribbon to open the Protect Sheet dialog box, as shown in Figure 2. In the Allow all users of this worksheet to list, check the objects that users are allowed to act upon, then enter a password, and click OK. Confirm the password and then click OK again to protect the sheet. The password prevents users who do not know the password from un-protecting the worksheet. Repeat these steps for every worksheet that you wish to protect.

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Figure 2 - Protecting an Individual Worksheet

Unlocking cells and establishing worksheet protection settings are great ways to maintain the integrity of your data and formulas on a specific worksheet. Keep in mind that this is a two-step process and that you must apply to every worksheet you wish to secure using this methodology.

For a video demonstration of this tip, please visit www.tinyurl.com/k2tips91.