How to Lock Text in a Word Document

By Lynne Pettus

You can protect a Word 2013 document from being edited, either by [making it read-only]( or by restricting edits to just some text or modifications. If your intent is to restrict access completely, [protect the document with a password]( so it can be opened only by authorized users.To "lock" just *some* text or parts of the document, use the **Restrict Formatting and Editing** dialog available from the Protect section of the Review tab.

Restricting Formatting

To prevent your users from changing the look of your document -- for instance, by using unapproved styles -- use the Formatting Restrictions feature. This restriction has no effect on content, so does not protect your document from actual content edits. From the Restrict Editing Panel, check **Limit Formatting to a Selection of Styles**. Click the **Settings** link to launch the Formatting Restrictions dialog. The **Limit Formatting to a Selection of Styles** is enabled by default. This option restricts other users to only the selected styles, maintaining consistency in your document. If this is what you want, select which styles to restrict, or all. Choosing **Recommended Minimum** selects only the most common styles.Under **Formatting** are three options:* **Allow AutoFormat to override formatting restrictions**: Allows Word to automatically format certain text such as hyperlinks or bullets, even if the related styles are locked. This option is available only when the **Limit Formatting to a Selection of Styles** check box is enabled.* **Block Theme or Scheme switching**: Prevents users from changing the document's theme. * **Block Quick Style Set switching**: Prevents users from changing the style set.

Restricting Editing

The **Editing Restrictions** dialog is deceptively simple but powerful. When you check the box **Allow Only This Type of Editing in the Document**, a pop-up launches to define the specifics. To disallow any edits, check **No changes (Read only)** to protect text. Alternatively, you can limit edits to just elements of the document: tracked changes, comments or filling in forms. But what if you need to allow editing privileges to some users? You can now fine-tune exactly *who* can edit the document -- and exactly *what* they can edit -- whether entire paragraphs, just phrases or even a single word. Select the relevant text and choose whether to restrict editing permissions on the selected content to all users by checking **Everyone**, or to just specific individuals. To allow specific individuals, click the link **More users...** and enter one or more usernames in the pop-up, separating each with a semi-colon. You must **include your own name** to retain editing permissions yourself. All selected text on which you have allowed edits is highlighted in purple so you can easily identify it as you work on your document. This panel also includes access to [configuring Microsoft's Information Rights Management]( by clicking **Restrict Permission...** under the See Also section. IRM goes way beyond restricting editing to disallow data from being printed, forwarded or copied.

Choosing How to Enforce Restrictions

After you have gone through your document to identify exceptions, if applicable, and you are ready to turn on document protection, click **Yes, Start Enforcing Protection** to launch the Start Enforcing Protection dialog. You can select either **Password** to password-protect your document or **User authentication**. Unless you have set up IRM on your system -- unlikely for most people -- choosing a password is the only way to go, and the easiest; plus, it's the *only choice* if multiple people might be working on the document at the same time. Word cannot retrieve a lost password. Write down your password in a safe place. If you lose it, attempts to copy the document or edit a copy do not work.

Editing a Restricted Document

After you've set your password, the Restrict Editing panel switches from displaying configuration options to displaying your permissions. Click **Find Next Region I Can Edit** to identify areas you are permitted to edit. The **Highlight the Regions I Can Edit** check box is enabled by default. If you try to edit text for which you have no permission, the text does not change and the Restrict Editing panel displays "You may only view this region." To turn off protection, click **Stop Protection** and enter the password.


A [workaround]( exists if you do forget your password or if you simply must edit a document. This entails downloading and installing the free Z-Zip software, renaming the DOCX file extension to ZIP and editing an XML settings file within the archive. See Resources. Don't use this or any other method to avoid copyright protection or otherwise negate legal restrictions. You can also create forms in which users can edit only specific fields. Create a Word document with [form fields]( and select **Filling in forms** from the Editing Restrictions section on the Restrict Editing panel.