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Lesson 4: Restricting and Protecting Documents and Templates

Restricting and protecting a document ensures you’re the ultimate authority over its progress.

Even though you might want other reviewers to suggest changes and make comments to a document, there may be times when you want to restrict them from making editing and changing the formatting.

Further, you may want to force all change tracking or limit reviewers to only commenting. The whole point of doing this is to make sure your document cannot be altered in such a way that doesn’t comply with your vision or style.

In this lesson, we’ll show you how to restrict the formatting and types of editing other reviewers can perform on your document. Once your document is close to the final state, you can mark it as final to avoid making inadvertent changes.

Aslo, you may want to limit access to your document to include only your team of reviewers. We’ll show you how to password protect your document. Then, you can tell only your team the password and no one else will be able to open the document.

We’ll start things off by introducing you to restricting formatting in a document.

Restrict Formatting in a Document

When you distribute a document for other to review, you may not want them to change the formatting of the document. Word allows you to restrict all or some of the themes and styles, as well as permitting reviewers to change some of the themes and styles. To do this, click “Restrict Editing” in the “Protect” section of the “Review” tab.

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The “Restrict Editing” pane displays to the right of the main text. In the “Formatting restrictions” section, select “Limit formatting to a selection of styles,” and click the “Settings…” link.

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On the “Formatting Restrictions” dialog box, all styles in the “Checked styles are currently allowed” box are selected by default. To select only certain styles to be used in the document, you can use the “None” button to de-select all the styles and then select the ones you want to allow. You can also use Word’s recommended minimum styles to allow by clicking “Recommended Minimum.” Choose additional restrictions in the “Formatting” section at the bottom of the dialog box, if desired, and click “OK” when done.

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The following dialog box displays asking if you want to remove styles that are not allowed. We recommend you do not. It may turn out that you want to use these styles in the document in the future. Other reviewers will not be able to change them or apply them.

Click “No” to keep the styles that are not allowed in your document.

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Before these restrictions can be applied, you must start enforcing protection. We will discuss this after showing you how to restrict editing.

Restrict Editing in a Document

In addition to restricting the formatting for reviewers of a document, you can also restrict the type of editing reviewers can perform on a document. On the “Restrict Editing” pane, select the “Allow only this type of editing in the document” check box and select an option from the drop-down list to indicate the type of editing that you want to allow in your document. You can allow other reviewers to only track changes, enter comments, or fill in forms. You can even restrict the document such that other people can only read it and make no changes.

You may ask what the difference is between restricting editing to only tracked changes and keeping “Track Changes” locked on, as discussed in Lesson 2. There actually is no difference; the functionality is the same. You can use whichever method is easier for you.

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You can specify exceptions to the restricted formatting and editing, or people who are allowed to freely edit the document. Click the “More users…” link in the “Exceptions (optional)” section of the “Restrict Editing” pane.

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On the “Add Users” dialog box, you can add users from the current computer, from a domain of which the current computer is part, or by entering someone’s email address. Separate all users and email addresses with a semicolon and click “OK” when done.

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The people you added on the “Add Users” dialog box display in the “Individuals” box in the “Exceptions (optional)” section of the “Restrict Editing” pane. Select the all or part of the document that you want a person to be able to edit and then select the check box for that person in the “Individuals” box.

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Now that you’ve restricted formatting and editing for the document as desired, you must tell Word to start enforcing the protection for it to take effect. In the “Start enforcement” section of the “Restrict Editing” pane, click “Yes, Start Enforcing Protection.”

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On the “Start Enforcing Protection” dialog box, make sure the “Password” option is selected, enter a password twice, and click “OK.”

Note that a password is not necessary and does not fully protect the document (the document is not encrypted). It simply helps to prevent people from turning off the formatting and editing restrictions.

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If you choose “User authentication” you’d likely see the following error:

“Your machine isn’t set up for Information Rights Management (IRM). To set up IRM, sign in to Office, open an existing IRM protected message or document, or contact your help desk.”

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We recommend using a password. It’s much simpler.

Once the restrictions have been enforced, the “Restrict Editing” pane displays the appropriate text allowing the reviewer to perform only the permissible editing and formatting tasks.

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Lori Kaufman is a freelance technical writer who likes to write geeky how-to articles to help make people's lives easier through the use of technology. She loves watching and reading mysteries and is an avid Doctor Who fan.

  • Published 03/20/14

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