Allow changes to parts of a protected document

You can mark a document as read-only and still allow changes to selected parts.

You can either make these unrestricted parts available to anyone who opens the document, or you can grant permission to specific individuals so that only they can change the unrestricted parts.

What do you want to do?

Protect a document and mark the parts that can be changed

Unlock a protected document

Make changes in a restricted document

Find parts you can edit

Protect a document and mark the parts that can be changed

  1. On the Review tab, in the Protect group, click Restrict Editing.

    The Restrict Editing icon is shown on the Review tab

  2. In the Editing restrictions area, select the Allow only this type of editing in the document check box.

  3. In the list of editing restrictions, click No changes (Read only).

  4. Select the part of the document where you want to allow changes.

    For example, select a block of paragraphs, a heading, a sentence, or a word.

    Tip: To select more than one part of the document at the same time, select the part that you want, then press CTRL and select more parts while you hold down the CTRL key.

  5. Under Exceptions, do one of the following:

    • To allow anyone who opens the document to edit the part that you selected, select the Everyone check box in the Groups list.

    • To allow only particular individuals to edit the part that you selected, click More users, and then type the user names.

      Include your name if you want to be able to edit that part of the document. Separate each name with a semicolon.

      Important: If you intend to protect the document with user authentication rather than password protection, be sure to type e-mail addresses for user names.

    • Click OK, and then select the check boxes next to the names of the individuals that you are allowing to edit the part that you selected.

      Note: If you select more than one individual, those individuals are added as an item to the Groups box, so that you can quickly select them again.

  6. Continue to select parts of the document and assign users permission to edit them.

  7. Under Start enforcement, click Yes, Start Enforcing Protection.

  8. Do one of the following:

    • To assign a password to the document so that users who know the password can remove the protection and work on the document, type a password in the Enter new password (optional) box, and then confirm the password.

      Note: Use this option if you want other people to be able to work on the document at the same time.

      Use strong passwords that combine uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. Weak passwords don't mix these elements. Strong password: Y6dh!et5. Weak password: House27. Passwords should be 8 or more characters in length. A pass phrase that uses 14 or more characters is better. For more information, see Create strong passwords.

      Make sure you remember the password. If you forget the password, Microsoft cannot retrieve it. Store passwords you write down in a secure place away from the information they help protect.

    • To encrypt the document so that only authenticated owners of the document can remove the protection, click User authentication.

      Note: Encrypting the document prevents others from working on the document at the same time.

Unlock a protected document

To remove all protection from a document, you might need to know the password that was applied to the document. Or you might have to be listed as an authenticated owner for the document.

If you are an authenticated owner of the document, or if you know the password for removing document protection, do the following:

  1. On the Review tab, in the Protect group, click Restrict Editing.

    The Restrict Editing icon is shown on the Review tab

  2. In the Restrict Editing task pane, click Stop Protection.

  3. If you are prompted to provide a password, type the password.

Make changes in a restricted document

When you open a protected document, Word restricts what you can change based on whether the document owner granted you permission to make changes to a specific part of the document.

The Restrict Editing task pane displays buttons for moving to the regions of the document that you have permission to change.

The editing options are shown in the Restrict Editing pane.

If you do not have permission to edit any parts of the document, Word restricts editing and displays the message, "Word has finished searching the document" when you click the buttons in the Restrict Editing task pane.

Find parts you can edit

If you close the Restrict Editing task pane and then try to make changes where you do not have permission, Word displays the following message in the status bar:

This modification is not allowed because the selection is locked.

To return to the task pane and find a region where you have permission to edit, do the following:

  1. On the Review tab, in the Protect group, click Restrict Editing.

    The Restrict Editing icon is shown on the Review tab

  2. Click Find Next Region I Can Edit or Show All Regions I Can Edit.

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