How to protect a Microsoft Word document from unauthorized changes?

Microsoft Word provides the feature to protect a Word document from unauthorized changes. Using this feature we can restrict the users to read-only the document, just allow to provide their comments in the document, allow to track the changes or just to filling in the forms etc.,

Step (1). Open Microsoft Word document.

Step (2). Click on Developer tab. It will display Developer ribbon controls in Developer tab.

Microsoft Word - Developer tab - Restrict Editing

Microsoft Word – Developer tab – Restrict Editing

Step (3). Click on Restrict Editing ribbon control which is under Protect section. It will display Restrict Formatting and Editing window.

Microsoft Word - Restrict Formatting and Editing

Microsoft Word – Restrict Formatting and Editing

Step (4). Restrict Formatting and Editing window allows to restrict formatting the Word document or allows to restrict editing the Word document. You can edit formatting restriction in Formatting restrictions section and editing restriction in Editing Restrictions.

Ste (5). Click on Settings… link from Formatting restrictions section. It will display “Formatting Restrictions” window.

Microsoft Word - Formatting Restrictions

Microsoft Word – Formatting Restrictions

Step (6). Select Limit formatting to a selection of styles check box to allow you to restrict on Word styles. Select the styles you want to allow the users to change in Word document. Unchecked styles are restricted the users to edit the styles. Click on None button to resrtict the users to not to edit any of the styles. Click on Recommended Minimum button to allow minimum styles to modify by the users.

Step (7). Check/Uncheck the styles based on your requirement and once you done with the selections click on OK to apply the changes and close the “Formatting Restrictions” window.

Step (8). Select Allow only this type of editing in the document: check box to apply restrictions on editing the Word document. Once you select the check-box other related controls are enabled and visible to allow you to apply edit restrictions.

Step (9). Select the option best suits to your requirement from the drop-down combo box. For eg: select No changes (Read only) to not to allow any changes in the document.

Microsoft Word - Editing Restrictions - Allowed Types

Microsoft Word – Editing Restrictions – Allowed Types

Step (10). Even through you restricted to edit the document, you can allow some users to edit some portion of the document by selecting the Groups from Groups: list.

  • If you want to add more users to the group, click on More users… link. It will display “Add Users” dialog to allow you to enter the list of user names you want to allow to edit the document.
  • Usernames must be separated by semicolon. Once you entered the user names click on OK button. The names will be displayed in Groups: list.
Microsoft Word - Restrict Editing - Edit Restrictions - Add User

Microsoft Word – Restrict Editing – Edit Restrictions – Add User

Step (11). If you want users to allow to edit some parts or regions of the document, select the portions or regions and select the Groups or Users to allow to edit the document from Groups: list.

Step (12). Click on “Yes, Start Enforcing Protection” button to apply all the selected settings. It will display “Start Enforcing Protection” window.

  • If you want to give your own password, check the Password option/radio button and provide the password details. Even you can select Password option without providing password details. Password details are optional. If set, it will prompt for password while stopping the protection.
  • You can select the User authentication option also.

Click on OK button once you are done with the changes.

Microsoft Word - Start Enforcing Protection

Microsoft Word – Start Enforcing Protection

Step (13). Now your document is protected and display the Your permissions window to allow you to navigate between the regions you can edit in the document.

Microsoft Word - Restrict Formatting and Editing - Your Permissions

Microsoft Word – Restrict Formatting and Editing – Your Permissions

You can navigate between the regions you can edit by clicking Find Next Region I Can Edit button. When you click on Show All Regions I Can Edit button, it will show all regions or portions you can edit from the Word document.

Step (14). Click on Stop Protection button, whenever you want to remove protection to the document (unprotect the document).

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