How To Restrict Editing in Microsoft Word (With Tips)

Updated June 24, 2022

Many professionals use Microsoft Word to draft and edit a wide range of written documents. You might share Word documents using Microsoft SharePoint, which can allow multiple people to edit and add to a single document. Learning how to adjust the editing permissions on a Microsoft Word document can help you work collaboratively to create project plans, articles and handbooks for a wide audience. In this article, we discuss why you might restrict editing permissions in a Word document, explain how to add and remove editing restrictions and provide tips for using Microsoft Word in collaborative projects.

Related: How to List Microsoft Office Skills on a Resume

Why might you restrict editing on a Microsoft Word document?

You might restrict editing on a part or all of a Microsoft Word document to protect information for a shared project. You can adjust the editing restrictions on a document to allow certain people to edit the document while allowing everyone else to read the selected text without editing. This can be helpful if your document has a wide audience and several key authors. When you share a document with restricted editing on Microsoft SharePoint, only the specified users can edit the document or restricted section, depending on your settings.

For example, an HR team might create a handbook of company policies in a shared Microsoft Word document. If the HR director, who wrote the original document, restricts editing privileges to the HR team and upper management, then these people can add new policies and change existing ones, while everyone else can read and print the document. Restricting the editing privileges in this document can ensure no one changes or deletes content by accident.

Related: How To Rotate a Text Box in Microsoft Word

How to restrict editing in a Word document

If you're the creator or a verified administrator of a document, you can customize the editing permissions on the document to allow certain people to change the text. Here's how to restrict editing permissions in a Microsoft Word document:

  1. Open the document and click on the "Review" tab.

  2. Under "Protect," select "Editing restrictions" to open the editing permissions menu.

  3. To restrict editing for the entire document, select the check box next to the words "Allow only this type of editing in the document."

  4. To allow editing in certain areas, keep the "Editing restrictions" menu open and use your cursor to highlight any text you want to open for editing, holding the "Ctrl" button if you want to select multiple areas.

  5. Under "Exceptions," select "More users" and type the email addresses of anyone you want to allow to edit the highlighted area, separating each email address with a semicolon.

  6. To allow general editing in the highlighted area, select "Everyone" in the "Groups" list.

  7. Under "Start enforcement," click "Yes, Start Enforcing Protection."

  8. In the pop-up menu that appears, choose either password protection or user authentication to set the restrictions.

  9. If you choose password protection, create a password and write it down on a notepad or another document.

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How to remove editing restrictions on a Word document

You might decide to unlock a document to allow others to work on it. Here's how to remove any editing restrictions you've placed on a Microsoft Word document:

  1. Open the document and click on the "Review" tab.

  2. Under "Protect," select "Restrict editing" to view the current editing permissions.

  3. Click "Stop Protection."

  4. If you chose password protection, enter the password when prompted.

How to edit a partially restricted document

If you're working on a collaborative document in Microsoft Word, you might get an invitation to work on a shared version of the document through Microsoft SharePoint. Here's how to edit a document with partial restrictions:

  1. Open the document with the link the owner provided you.

  2. If the "Restrict Editing" pane doesn't appear, click on the "Review" tab, followed by "Protect" and "Restrict Editing."

  3. Read the "Restrict Editing" pane to find out whether you have full, partial or no permissions to edit the document.

  4. On the "Restricted Editing pane," click "Find Next Region I Can Edit" to move to the next section or "Show All Regions I Can Edit" to highlight all of your permitted areas.

  5. Write your content in the regions you can edit.

Tips for using Microsoft Word collaboratively

Learning how to customize editing permissions can help you manage collaborative projects while preserving finished parts of a document. Here are some other tips for using Microsoft Word for collaborative projects:

Understand file extensions

File extensions determine which programs can read certain files. From 2007 until the present, current versions of Microsoft Word have used .docx as the default file extension for documents. Prior to 2007, the default file form was .doc. You can change documents from one form to another, and many people change .docx files to .doc files so they can read and edit them using older forms of Microsoft Word.

While .doc files are compatible with older programs, only .docx files work with Microsoft SharePoint and OneDrive, which are the programs that allow live collaboration. To ensure other authors can edit your document, save the document as a .docx file until it's completed. At that point, you can save it as a .doc or a .pdf file, depending on your needs.

Related: How To Change DOCX to DOC To Optimize Your File Types

Consider using Word for the web

If your computer has an older version of Microsoft Word, such as Microsoft Word 2007 or 2003, you can edit a document while other authors are writing, but you can't see their changes until you save your document. One way to see live edits is to use the Word for the web option with your Microsoft account. To open a file in Word's web browser version, click the link that your document administrator sent to you and allow the browser to load. If you have a steady internet connection, you can use most web browsers to complete your documents.

Use track changes

If you're the administrator for a collaborative document, you might like to see what changes your editors make to your work. By using Microsoft Word's track changes option, you can see individual author and editor contributions to the document. To enable this function, click the "Review" tab on the document's main page. Then, select "Tracking," followed by "Track Changes." When you enable the function, the document shows deleted words with lines through them, underlines text added by external authors and puts each author's text in a unique color.

Access version history for comparisons

Another way you can measure individual authors' contributions is to look at the version history of a document. When an author saves a document, Word's online features save that version to Microsoft OneDrive. This way, if someone saves the document again, you can still access the version of that document. To access version history, open OneDrive and find the document's location. Right-click on the document and select "Version History" to see every saved version of the document. You might do this to compare different versions of a document and select one or the other.

Related: How To Include Microsoft Office Skills on a Resume (With Examples)

Use the comment feature

When a document has multiple editors and authors, it can be challenging to answer everyone's questions and respond to each suggestion. One way to manage feedback is by using the comment feature on a document. Comments allow authors and editors to express their opinions, ask questions and flag passages for additional review. You can also turn off the comment view if you want to focus solely on the document's written content. To write a comment on a word or passage, highlight the desired portion or place your cursor at the end. Click "Review," followed by "Insert Comment."

Consider using Word's extra features

Word has a range of native tools that can help you refine a document's language, grammar and tone or search the internet for relevant resources. For example, you might use Word's Researcher tool to find sources or images for a topic, which you can insert into your document. To use Researcher, click on the "Review" tab, followed by "Researcher." Enter your search topic into the search bar and choose from the results. The tool can also help you create a bibliographic entry for the new material.

Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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