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Hide Formulas in a Worksheet

Updated on June 19, 2013

If you are using formulas in an Excel worksheet, you may not want to display these formulas to users such as clients or potential clients.

Excel provides a way to hide the formulas in a worksheet so they are not displayed in the Formula bar when a cell is selected. The formula result is displayed in the cell, but the user is prevented from seeing what calculation is being performed.

Hiding the formulas in a worksheet requires 2 stages. First we need to specify that we would like the cell contents to be hidden. Then we protect the worksheet to enforce these settings.

Set the Cell Properties to Hidden

Every cell of an Excel worksheet has two properties that are applied. These are locked and hidden. By default every cell is locked but not hidden.

1. Select the cells containing the formulas you want to hide.

2. Press Ctrl + 1 on the keyboard, or click the Format button and then Format Cells on the Home tab of the Ribbon.

Opening the Format Cells dialog box
Opening the Format Cells dialog box

3. Click the Protection tab in the dialog box.

4. Check the Hidden box. The Locked box should already be checked by default. If not check this box too to prevent users from editing the cell.

Select hidden to hide the formulas in selected cells
Select hidden to hide the formulas in selected cells

5. Click Ok.

Protect the Worksheet

Hiding the content of a cell has no effect until the worksheet is protected. Protecting a worksheet enforces these changes in the same way that a key locks a door. The lock on the door has no effect until the key is turned.

1. Click the Review tab on the Ribbon.

2. Click the Protect Sheet button in the Changes group.

3. Enter a password. This password will be required to unprotect the sheet at a later date.

Protect the worksheet to enforce the hidden formulas
Protect the worksheet to enforce the hidden formulas

4. Check the boxes of any features you may want your users to be able to use. By default they may only select cells.

5. Click Ok

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