prevent editing in a Section of a MS Word template/document

Occasionally, I’ve needed to protect a portion of a Word template from accidental editing. There are many reasons to do this, but one example – the one I’ll be using in this particular #pragmaticcomputertip – is to protect the content and formatting of what I call “faux” letterhead. (Note: This tip applies to MS Word 2007 and later.)

Click HERE to read the previous #pragmaticcopmutertip about creating faux letterhead. After finalizing, it’s a good idea to to be protect that section of the form against accidental editing. Here’s how that’s done:

With the cursor just below the faux letterhead content, insert a Continuous section break to separate the letterhead from the rest of the document. In this example, the rest of the document will contain the date, address, re: block, body and closing of the letter.

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MS Word Insert Continuous Section Break

Once the document is divided into sections, a section can be protected by following these steps:

1. Click the REVIEW Tab of the ribbon to display the “Restrict Editing” tool, in the “Protect” group.

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MS Review Tab Restrict Editing within Protect Group

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MS Word Editing Restrictions2. Click “Restrict Editing” and the Restrict Editing task pane will display to the right of the document.

3. The second section of the Restrict Editing task pane is labeled “Editing Restrictions.” Select the check box. This enables the drop-down list in the section. Choose “Filling in Forms” from the drop-down list.

4. When “Filling in Forms” is selected, Word will display the “Select sections” link under the drop-down list. Click “Select sections” and Word will display the Section Protection dialog box.

(NOTE: The link will only display if your document contains at least one section break. If there is only one section in the document, then the whole document will be protected.)

MS Word Select Sections to protect

5. By default, all sections are checked, so UNcheck all sections of the document except the section to be protected and click OK to close the Section Protection dialog box.

6. Back in the “Restrict Editing” task pane, Click “Yes, Start Enforcing Protection” button to display the “Start Enforcing Protection” dialog box.

MS Word Enable Protection

If you prefer, enter a password for the protection and confirm the password by entering it again and click okay.

(Note: I usually don’t use a password. My motivation for protecting a section of the document is to prevent accidental editing, not intentional editing.)

7. Close the Restrict Editing task pane.

The section of the document specified in step 5 is protected.