Hiding and Protecting Excel Formulas

After taking the time to create an Excel spreadsheet laden with formulas that actually work correctly, the last thing you want to have to deal with is some adventurous rogue user messing with your hard work. While the majority of people will leave formulas that they don’t understand alone, others will attempt to tinker with formulas or even overwrite them completely. For cases where you’re creating Excel spreadsheets for other users and don’t want your formulas messed with, one of your best options is to hide the formulas completely.

Hiding your formulas and preventing changes by other users is a multi-step process. Begin by right-clicking on the cell (or multiple cells) where the formula exists and select Format Cells. Next, click the Protection tab. Ensure that both the Locked and Hidden checkboxes are checked, and then click OK.

At this point you’ll notice that the formula is still visible when you click on its cell. To change this you need to complete step 2, where you actually protect the worksheet. To do this, click Tools > Protection > Protect Sheet. In the Protect Sheet window, you can either click OK to protect the sheet without a password, or enter a password that will need to be supplied to unprotect the sheet and make changes and then click OK. Note: don’t forget the password or you’ll lock yourself out!

After enabling protection, you’ll notice that the formula in the cell you applied the Locked and Hidden settings to is no longer visible. If a protection password was not applied, any user will be able to select Tools > Protection > Unprotect Sheet to make the formula visible once again. If a password was applied, it will be needed to unprotect the sheet to make changes.

Author: Dan DiNicolo

Dan DiNicolo is a freelance author, consultant, trainer, and the managing editor of 2000Trainers.com. He is the author of the CCNA Study Guide found on this site, as well as many books including the PC Magazine titles Windows XP Security Solutions and Windows Vista Security Solutions. Click here to contact Dan.