A lot of users prefer PDF documents over Word documents because they are read-only by nature, and hence tamper proof. But did you know that there are all kinds of security features built into Microsoft Word, and that it allows creation of Word documents that prevent users from editing it either completely or partially? That feature exist since Microsoft Word 2003 and an extra feature was introduced in Word 2007.
Let’s find out how to do it.
Doing it in Word 2003
- Open the document you want to make read only.
- From the Tools menu select Protect Document (you never noticed it, right?)
- A sidebar will appear on the right with “Protect Document” options.
- Check the box under “Editing restrictions”. Make sure the drop down menu is selected as “read only”.
- Click the button “Yes, start enforcing protection” and you will prompted for a password.
- Enter the password and save the document.
The document is now read-only. Users can still open and read the document without knowing the password. The password is required only if you want to edit the document. For this, you have to click on “Stop Protection”, that shows up at the bottom of the sidebar when you open such a protected document, and type the correct password.
Sometimes it may happen that you might need to make certain regions of the document editable. For example, you might issue a form that you need to protect but still enable users to type their names into it before printing.
That’s possible by checking the box against “Everyone”, under the section “Exceptions (optional)” as in the screenshot above. Then highlight the regions of the document which you want to make editable. Now click on “Yes, start enforcing protection”.
This time the document is read-only except the highlighted region. This region is shown with a yellow background.
Doing it in Word 2007
Protecting a document in Word 2007 involves the same steps as in Word 2003, except that the “Protect Document” option is under the “Review” tab in the ribbon.
I also mentioned about an extra feature in Word 2007. This feature is known as marking a document “final”, and it provides temporary read-only protection to a document to prevent accidental deletion or changes.
To mark a document final, click on the orb and select “Mark as Final” under Prepare sub menu. Click OK to make it final. The document now cannot be edited. To enable write mode, once again click on “Mark as Final”.
Password Protecting Word Documents
This option can be found in another section, and it’s the same in both Word 2003 and Word 2007.
When you click on Save or Save as, look for an item called “Tools” in the save dialog box. Click it to reveal a drop down menu. From it choose “Security Options”.
Here you can set your password, also access the protect features and further, choose to remove personal information (meta data) from the document before saving.