Microsoft Word: Protect Your Sections!


Restrict EditingHave you ever thought about protecting certain areas of your Word document? In some cases you really don’t want users to change any text in a particular paragraph. Microsoft Word has the option to protect the document but in that case it shuts done the entire document. So we are looking for functionality that enables us to protect certain areas of our document while the rest of the document stays editable. Here’s one way to achieve that goal.

Starting with some text
If you would like to follow the steps create a document to perform the next steps. I started with a new blank document and added some random text in it by using =rand(20). This creates 20 paragraphs of random help text in your document.

Setting up the document: Breaks
The first thing we have to do is create page breaks in our document. For practice purposes I’ve just added breaks after each paragraph. There are various kinds of page breaks available. The one we are looking for is the continuous section break. This will keep your text in place but breaks down your document in various sections.

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So choose the spot and after each paragraph insert a continuous page break. Your document should look something like this: see pic below

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Restrict Editing possibilities
The next step we have to do is set the restriction on the document. To do so click on the Review Tab and look for the button that states “Restrict Editing”.

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Click on that and the Restrict Editing task pane will appear on screen. In the task pane you will see three sections.

Restrict Editing IIIWe will use the second section here: Editing Restrictions. Enable the check box that says: “Allow only…. Document”. From the combo box select the Filling in forms option. When done you should see a text appear below the combo box which states “Select sections…”. It will be no surprise that we need to click that text. A new dialog will pop up right in the middle of your screen. In this dialog every section you have created in your document is protected by default. Uncheck the sections you don’t want to protect leaving only those you do want to protect enabled.

 

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Enforce protection
Now the last step we need to take is to enforce the protection. To do so click in the last section of the task pane and click the button that states “Yes, Start Enforce Protection”. A dialog will appear asking you to provide a password. As usual you need to type your password twice. So choose wisely and make sure you don’t forget the password. When done try editing the specific sections that you have protected and try editing sections that you did not protect. Pretty cool right?

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Protecting documents
During my work I see a lot of documents. Especially when we are helping a customer migrating his documents from an earlier version of Office to the current version. That’s when a lot of documents pop up asking us for passwords. And yes you have guessed it, most of the times those passwords have been forgotten or set by employees that are long gone from that company. So my advice would be to use passwords wisely and in reduced numbers. Don’t just go about protecting every document you might create. There will be a day when it will bite you back if you don’t know the password anymore 🙂

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