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How to protect worksheet's formatting only in Excel?

Most of us may know how to protect worksheet contents not to be changed, but here, I want others can be able to change the cell values or type in numbers or text, but not mess up the cell formatting which I have applied, such as the Fonts, Background colors and so on. How do you protect the formatting of the worksheet without regarding for the contents?

Protect formatting of the worksheet with Excel feature (7 steps)

Protect worksheet's formatting only with Kutools for Excel (3 steps)

Protect multiple/all worksheets with same password in Excel

Easily protect/lock some cells (only part of sheet) from editing in Excel

Kutools for Excel provides a quite easy way to protect or lock specified cells from editing in Excel: unlock the whole worksheet by Selection Unlock button, next lock the specified cells you will lock from editing by Selection Lock button, at last protect current worksheet. Click for detailed steps. Full Feature Free Trial 60-day!

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Supposing I have applied the formatting to the range cells as following screenshot shows, and now I will talk about how to protect worksheet's formatting only step by step:

1. Select the range cells that you want others to be able to edit, and then right click and choose Format Cells from the context menu, see screenshot:

2. In the Format Cells dialog box, click Protection tab, and uncheck the Locked option. See screenshot:

3. Click OK to close the dialog box.

4. If you need to allow others to edit multiple ranges in this worksheet, please repeat above step 1-4 as you need.

5. Go on to click Review > Protect Sheet to protect the worksheet, see screenshot:

6. And in the popped out dialog box, make sure the Format cells is unchecked (it is not checked by default), and you needn't change any information in the dialog box, see screenshot:

doc protect format 4

7. Then click OK, and all the selected cells content can be edited as your need, but the cell formatting can't be modified.

Note: If you want to set a password to protect the sheet, you can enter the password as your need, but if you needn't, just only click OK button in the Protect Sheet dialog box.


If you have Kutools for Excel installed, you can simplify steps to protect current worksheet’s formatting only. Please do as follows:

Kutools for Excel - Combines more than 300 Advanced Functions and Tools for Microsoft Excel

1. Select multiple ranges that you will allow other to edit, and click the Enterprise > Worksheet Design to activate the Design tab, and then click the Selection Unlock button on the Design tab. See screenshot:

Note: Holding the Ctrl keys, you can select multiple non-adjacent ranges by selecting one by one.

doc protect format 1

Then a dialog box pops out and reminders you selected ranges have been unlocked. Just close it.

2. Click the Design > Protect Sheet or (Review > Protect Sheet) to protect current worksheet.

doc protect format 3

3. In the opening Protect Sheet dialog box, enter your password, and remember not to check the Format Cells option, and click the OK button. Next reenter your password in the Confirm Password dialog box, and click the OK button.

doc protect format 4

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Quickly mass password protect multiple/all worksheets in Excel

Normally Excel's Protect Sheet feature can only protect active sheet. However, Kutools for Excel's Protect Worksheet utility enables to mass protect multiple (or all) worksheets with same password by only 2 steps.

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  • To post as a guest, your comment is unpublished.
    Craig · 1 months ago
    Sorry, this is not fool proof. If you do the above (through Excel Feature) the formatting is not protected from the cut and paste feature. ex. if you have a row which has a light gray back ground and you cut it and paste it into a white row, the gray background is transferred to the new cells in place of the white.
  • To post as a guest, your comment is unpublished.
    Bob · 1 years ago
    This also doesn't work if a user enters a currency symbol in the cell. Excel will automatically change the cell's formatting to currency without asking you and no way to prevent it. Even data validation ignores input of currency symbols when instructed to allow numbers only.
  • To post as a guest, your comment is unpublished.
    Gina · 4 years ago
    I followed your instructions for protecting the formatting of a worksheet in excel, but it won't let me refresh the pivot table if the worksheet is protected. I have to un-protect it to refresh and then all my formatting is changed.
    How do I keep the formatting and be able to refresh the worksheet?
  • To post as a guest, your comment is unpublished.
    Jim R · 5 years ago
    It does not work when you copy into the cell. Formatting is replaced.
    • To post as a guest, your comment is unpublished.
      Brett · 1 years ago
      This is my problem - I want to make a tool that people can paste data into without messing up the formatting. Editable cells are light yellow and have conditional formatting and whatnot. Maybe a macro event can force a paste values or something... it's either that or a macro that replaces the correct formatting after any value change.