Microsoft Word comes pre-loaded with features that let you create and edit documents. One of these features allows you to restrict editing in Word. When you enable this feature, it prevents anyone from deleting or adding content to your documents, thus keeping them intact.
There are many ways to apply constraints to your documents, and you can use whichever suits your situation. For example, you can turn on formatting restrictions if you don’t want anyone to change the formatting of your document.
Restrict Editing in Word
You can restrict editing of both existing and new documents in Word. As long as you can open a document in an application, you can apply restrictions to it.
- Double-click your document and it will open in Word.
- Click the tab labeled Browse at the top to find the constraint setting you’re looking for.
- On the next screen, click Protect and select Restrict Editing to access the restriction option.
- A new panel will appear on the right side of the screen. It allows you to apply different types of restrictions to your document. First, enable the “Limit formatting to the selected style” option and click “Settings”.
- A window will open on your screen. This is where you can specify which formatting styles will be allowed for your document, while limiting others. Check the ones you want to keep.
You can click â€œAllâ€ to select all formatting options, or â€œNoneâ€ to select none of them. Finally, click OK to save your changes.
- The second type of restriction you can apply is editing restriction. Select the Allow only this type of editing in document check box, and then select one of the four options listed in the drop-down menu.
If you want to limit all changes, select the No Change (Read Only) option from the menu.
- Word gives you the ability to allow certain people to edit your document, even if that was limited. To use it, select the part of the document that you want to leave editable for the selected users.
- Click Other Users under Exceptions (optional) in the right pane to select users who are allowed to make changes to the document.
- Enter the names of the users you want to allow editing the document and click OK.
- Check the username you just added in the right sidebar.
- Click Yes, Start Enforcing Protection to start enforcing restrictions on your document.
- You will be prompted for a password for security. You can use this password to later remove restrictions on document editing. Enter a strong password and click OK.
If someone tries to make changes to the document, Word will prevent them from doing so, and a message will appear below informing them that the document is protected.
Find the editable parts of the document
If you’ve come across a restricted document, but you know there must be parts you can edit, Word makes it pretty easy for you to find the editable parts in a protected document.
You can easily find all editable parts in your document with just a few clicks.
- Launch your document in Word.
- Click the Review tab at the top.
- Select the Security option and select Restrict Editing.
- You will see three options on the screen, all of which are described below.
Find the next area I can edit – it finds the next editable part in your document.
Show all areas that I can edit – it will show all the parts in your document that you can edit.
Highlight the areas that I can edit – if you check – check this, all the parts that can be edited in the document will be highlighted.
- You can start making changes to editable areas right now.
Remove editing restrictions in Word
If you no longer want to restrict editing in Word, you can do so using the same option you used to apply restrictions.
- Open a restricted document in Word.
- Click the Browse option at the top.
- Select “Protect” and then “Restrict Editing” on the next screen.
- On the right sidebar, at the very bottom of the screen, you will find the Stop Protection option. Click on it to remove restrictions from your document.
- You will be prompted for a password. Do this and click “OK”.
- The restrictions need to be removed and you can start editing the document.
How to restrict editing in Word with password and read-only mode
The above feature is a great way to prevent people from editing your documents. But, as you can see, this is too complicated and requires about a dozen steps.
Another way to restrict editing in Word is to password protect the document. You can add a password and your document will ask for it every time you open it. You can combine it with read-only mode, and you will get a message that the document is read-only, even after entering the correct password.
- Start your document in Word.
- Click the File menu at the top.
- Several options will appear in the left sidebar. Click the icon labeled “Information” to open the information panel.
- On the next screen, click the small down arrow icon in the Protect Document section.
- Select “Always open for read-only” from the options available on your screen.
- Word will now always open this particular document in read-only mode. You will see a confirmation message on the screen.
- It’s time to lock the document with a password. To do this, select the “Protect document” option and select “Encrypt with a password”.
- Enter the password you want to protect your document with and click OK.
- You will be asked to enter your password again. Do this and click “OK”.
- Your document is now password protected and will only open if you enter the correct password.
- If you ever need to disable protection, return to the same Info menu, click Protect Document and select Always Open Read Only.
- Click “Protect Document” again and select “Password Encryption”.
- Remove everything from the Password field and click OK. This will remove password protection from your document.
Discourage modification by marking document as final
Word has a feature that lets you mark a document as final. When you do this, your document is considered the final version and no further changes can be made.
If the user opens the document, they will see a warning that the document is marked as final. If they still want to go ahead and edit the document, they can click the appropriate option.
This setting is only intended to discourage people from editing your document, and it doesn’t actually restrict editing in Word.
- While your document is open in Word, click the File button at the top.
- Select Information from the options available in the left sidebar.
- Click Protect Document from the right menu and select Mark as Final.
- You will receive a message that the document will be marked as final and then saved. Click OK to continue.
- Another message appears on the screen describing what marking as final means. Click OK to continue.
- The next time you open a document, you will see a message that the document is final. If you need to edit it, click the “Edit Anyway” button.
- To remove the last tag from a document, return to the same Info menu, click Protect Document, and select the Mark as Final option.
Disable editing in a document without Word
If for some reason you don’t want to use Word to enable restrictions, there is a way that doesn’t require it. It uses one of the options in File Explorer to prevent people from editing your document.
- Find your Word document using File Explorer, but don’t open it.
- Right-click your file and select Properties.
- Click General at the top if you haven’t already.
- You will see a Read Only checkbox. Check the box and click Apply and then OK.
Explorer has made your file read-only, which means people can read it but can’t edit it.
Are you limiting editing in your Word documents? If so, what methods do you use? Tell us and our readers in the comments below.