How to Restrict Word Document Editing

Microsoft Word comes preloaded with many features to help you create and edit your documents. One of those features allows you to restrict editing in Word. Enabling the feature prevents anyone from removing or adding content to your documents, leaving them intact.

There are many ways to apply restrictions to your documents and you can use whatever is appropriate for your situation. For example, you can enable formatting restrictions if you don’t want anyone to change the formatting of the document.

Restrict editing in Word

You can restrict editing of both your existing and new documents in Word. As long as you can open a document with the app, you can apply restrictions to it.

  1. Double click on your document and it will open in the Word app.
  2. Click on the tab with the text Review at the top to find the restriction option you are looking for.
  3. Click on the next screen To protect and select Restrict Editing to access the Restrictions option.
  1. You will see a new window appear on the right side of your screen. It allows you to apply different types of restrictions to your document. Start by enabling the Limit formatting to a selection of styles option and click Settings
  1. A box will open on your screen. Here you can specify which formatting styles are allowed for your document, while restricting the others. Check which one you want to keep.

    You can click on All to select all formatting options or No to select none. Finally click Okay to save the changes.

  1. The second type of restriction you can apply is editing restrictions. Check the box that says: Only allow this type of editing in the document and then choose one of the four options from the drop-down menu.

    If you want to restrict all changes, choose the No changes (read only) option from the menu.

  1. Word gives you an option that allows certain people to edit your document, even if it is restricted. To use it, select the part of your document you want to keep editable for your chosen users.
  2. click on More users below Exceptions (optional) in the right pane to select users who are allowed to make changes to the document.
  1. Enter the usernames you want to allow to edit your document and click Okay
  1. Check the username you just added in the right pane.
  2. click on Yes, start enforcing protection to apply restrictions to your document.
  1. It will ask you to enter a password for protection. You can use this password to later remove editing restrictions from the document. Enter a strong password and click Okay

If someone tries to make a change to the document, Word will prevent them from doing so and a message will appear at the bottom to let you know that the document is protected.

Find editable parts in the document

If you have come across a restricted document, but you know that it must have parts in it that you can edit, then Word makes it quite easy to find the editable parts in a protected document.

You can easily find all editable parts in your document with just a few clicks.

  1. Start your document in the Word app.
  2. Click on the Review tab at the top.
  3. Select the option that says: To protect and choose Restrict Editing
  1. You will see three options on your screen, all described below.

    Find next region I can edit – it finds the next editable part in your document.

    Show all regions I can edit – it shows all parts in your document that can be edited.

    Mark the regions I can edit – if you check this, all parts that can be edited in your document will be marked.

  1. You can now start making changes to the editable regions.

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 the restrictions.

  1. Open your restricted document in the Word app.
  2. Click on the Review option at the top.
  3. Select To protect followed by Restrict Editing on the next screen.
  1. In the right pane, at the very bottom of your screen, you will find an option that says Stop protection† Click it to remove restrictions from your document.
  1. It will ask you to enter your password. Do this and click Okay
  1. Restrictions should be removed and you can start editing the document.

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, it’s a bit too complicated and you have to go through about a dozen steps.

Another way to restrict editing in Word is to password protect your document. You can add a password and your document will ask you for it every time you open it. You can combine it with read-only mode and you’ll get a prompt stating that the document is only meant to be read, even after you’ve entered the correct password.

  1. Start your document in the Word app.
  2. Click on the File menu at the top.
  3. Several options will appear in the left sidebar. Click on the one that says: Info to open the info panel.
  1. In the next screen click on the little arrow down below Secure Document
  1. Select Always open read-only from the options available on your screen.
  1. Word will now always open this particular document in read-only mode. You will see a confirmation message on your screen for this.
  1. It’s time to lock your document with a password. To do this, click on the Secure Document option and select Encrypt with password
  1. Enter the password you want to protect your document with and click Okay
  1. It will ask you to re-enter your password. Do this and press Okay
  1. Your document is now password protected and will only open if you enter the correct password.
  2. If you ever need to turn off the protection, go back to the same Info menu, click Secure Documentand choose Always open read-only
  1. click on Secure Document again and select Encrypt with password
  1. Get everything out of the password field and click Okay† It removes the password protection from your document.

Discourage editing by marking the document as final

Word has a feature that allows you to mark a document as final. When you do this, your document will be considered the final version and no further changes may be made to it.

When a user opens the document, they see a warning that the document has been marked as final. If they still want to go ahead and edit the document, they can click an option to do so.

This option is only meant to discourage people from editing your document and doesn’t really limit editing in Word.

  1. With your document open in Word, click the File option at the top.
  2. Select Info from the available options in the left sidebar.
  1. click on Secure Document in the menu on the right and select Mark as final
  1. You will be notified that the document will be marked as final and then saved. click on Okay Get on.
  1. You will see another prompt on your screen describing what mark as final means. click on Okay Get on.
  1. The next time you open the document, you will see a message that the document is final. If you want to edit it, click the Edit anyway knob.
  1. To remove the last tag from your document, go back to the same Info menu, click Secure Documentand select the Mark as final choice.

Disable editing in a document without Word

If for some reason you don’t want to use Word to enable restrictions, there is a method that doesn’t require it. It uses one of the options in File Explorer to prevent people from editing your document.

  1. Find your Word document with Explorer but not open.
  2. Right click on your file and select Properties
  1. click on General at the top if you’re not there yet.
  2. You will see a checkbox labeled as Read only† Check the box and click Apply followed by Okay

File Explorer has made your file read-only, meaning people can read it, but not edit it.

Do you restrict editing in your Word documents? If so, what methods do you use? Let us and our readers know in the comments below.

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