How to Lock Formatting in Google Sheets: A Step-by-Step Guide

Locking the formatting in Google Sheets protects the overall look of your spreadsheet. It’s a simple task to prevent any accidental changes to your carefully crafted sheets. Just follow these easy steps to ensure your formatting stays exactly how you want it.

Step by Step Tutorial: How to Lock Formatting in Google Sheets

Before diving into the steps, let’s understand what locking formatting in Google Sheets accomplishes. By following these steps, you will secure the formatting of specific cells, ranges, or the entire sheet, preventing any unwanted alterations.

Step 1: Open your Google Sheets document

Open the Google Sheet where you want to lock the formatting.

Once you have your Google Sheets document open, make sure you are on the correct sheet tab if your document contains multiple sheets.

Step 2: Select the cells or range you wish to format

Click and drag to select the cells, or click the grey square in the top left corner to select the entire sheet.

If you want to lock the formatting for specific cells, click on the first cell and drag across all cells you wish to include. If you’re going to lock the entire sheet, clicking the grey square will select everything at once.

Step 3: Right-click and choose ‘Protect range’

Right-click on the selected cells or range and select ‘Protect range’ from the dropdown menu.

‘Protect range’ is the option that allows you to set up the lock on your formatting. It will open a new menu where you can further customize your protection settings.

Step 4: Set permissions

In the new menu, set permissions for who can edit the range. You can also name the protected range for easy reference.

Here, you can choose to restrict editing to yourself, certain individuals, or anyone with the link, depending on your needs. Naming the range helps you keep track of different protections you may have on your sheet.

Step 5: Click ‘Done’ to lock the formatting

Once you have set your permissions, click ‘Done’ to lock the formatting in place.

After clicking ‘Done,’ the selected cells or range will be locked, and the formatting you have applied will be protected from any changes by unauthorized users.

After completing these steps, your selected formatting is now locked. Only those with permission can alter the formatting, giving you peace of mind and maintaining the integrity of your spreadsheet.

Tips: Maximizing Protection When Locking Formatting in Google Sheets

  • Always double-check the range you are about to protect to ensure you’ve selected the correct cells.
  • Use descriptive names for each protected range to help manage multiple protections.
  • Regularly review who has permission to edit protected ranges, especially if you collaborate with a large team.
  • Consider protecting entire columns or rows if they contain critical data or formulas.
  • Remember that locking formatting does not protect against adding or deleting rows or columns. For full protection, lock the entire sheet.

Frequently Asked Questions

What happens if someone tries to edit a protected range?

If someone tries to edit a protected range without permission, they will receive an error message and will not be able to make any changes.

Can I lock formatting for multiple ranges at once?

Yes, you can protect multiple ranges simultaneously by repeating the protection process for each range you wish to lock.

Is it possible to lock formatting on a cell-by-cell basis?

Absolutely, you can lock formatting for individual cells by selecting each cell and protecting them one at a time.

What if I need to change the formatting after it’s been locked?

If you have permission to edit the protected range, you can remove the protection, make your changes, and then reapply the protection.

Can I still filter or sort data in a protected range?

Filtering and sorting do not affect the formatting, so you can still use these functions on protected ranges.


  1. Open your Google Sheets document
  2. Select the cells or range to protect
  3. Right-click and choose ‘Protect range’
  4. Set permissions for the protected range
  5. Click ‘Done’ to lock the formatting


Locking the formatting in Google Sheets is an essential skill for anyone who regularly works with data. It helps maintain the visual consistency and integrity of your spreadsheets, which is crucial when sharing your work with others or relying on accurate data presentation for decision-making. By following the simple steps outlined in this article, you can easily protect your Google Sheets formatting, ensuring that your data looks exactly how you intended, no matter who accesses the file. Remember to revisit your permissions regularly and keep your protected ranges well-organized for optimal spreadsheet management. With these tips and techniques in your toolkit, you’re all set to master Google Sheets and take your data handling to the next level.