How to Enable or Disable Editing on Word Documents

By LaDonna Hadley

Learn the types of editing restrictions and how to enable and disable editing in Microsoft Word and from a file's location to make a Read-Only document.

Whether you're sharing a work document or publishing a document online, there are times when you want to protect your document from changes. Restrict others from editing or reformatting a Word document by disabling editing and using a password to make a read-only document in Microsoft Word 2013. You can also manage permissions using the file's properties, without opening Word.

Protecting Documents Within Word

Restricting Editing

To restrict editing, select the Review tab and click Restrict Editing. Check the box under Editing Restrictions and choose No Changes (Read Only).

Tip

Other restrictions without making the document read-only include tracking changes, comments and filling in forms.

To set a password, click Yes, Start Enforcing Protection. Enter and confirm a password, and then click OK.

Start Enforcement

Tip

A password isn't required. To proceed without a password, leave the password fields blank and click OK.

Warning

The password cannot be recovered if lost, so choose one you'll remember or store the password in a safe place.

To disable the protection, click Stop Protection. If a password was used for protection, enter it and click OK.

Undo Protection

If an unauthorized user tries to make changes, a note appears cautioning that modifications aren't allowed.

No Changes Allowed

Tip

Use the Exceptions option to allow specific people editing access.

Restricting Formatting Changes

To restrict formatting changes, choose Restrict Editing from the Review tab and check the box under Formatting Restrictions. In the pop-up window, check the box to limit formatting. Uncheck all of the styles to restrict, check the desired formatting choices and then click OK.

Formatting Preferences

Warning

Checked styles are allowed, so make sure to uncheck the styles you want restricted.

Blocking Authors

To restrict changes to a specific area of a shared document without making it read-only, select the area to be restricted and click Block Authors from the Reviewtab. The protected area is shown by a dashed line and icon. To undo, click Release All of My Blocked Areas. Changes take place after saving.

Select Specific Areas

Restricted Area

Marking as Final and Encrypting with a Password

Marking a Word document as final makes it read-only and disables editing and formatting. From the Info option, click Mark as Final from the Protect Document menu. This option is not intended to be secure if used alone: if the document is not protected in some other way, any user can remove the Mark as Final status. Pair this option with other editing restrictions if you want to ensure no further edits are made to the file.

If the document has already been restricted to read-only status, marking as final signals that the owner has finished editing the document and considers it complete.

Final Version Protection

Warning

If the file is opened in a Word version older than 2010, the "Marked as Final" document is not read-only.

Alternatively, activate read-only status by encrypting the document with a password. From the Info option, choose Encrypt with Password in the Protect Document menu.

Password Encryption

Protecting Documents Without Opening Word

To make a Word document read-only without opening Word, right-click on the file in File Explorer and click Properties. From the General tab, check Read-Only and then click Apply.

Change Properties

To change the permissions, open the Security tab and click Edit. Check the permissions to deny and then click OK.

Choose Permissions

Getting Around Read-Only Status

To circumvent read-only permissions and editing restrictions, copy and paste the text into a new Word document. Make changes and save with a new name.

Warning

To avoid copyright infringement, obtain permission from the owner before changing a document that is read-only or otherwise protected.