Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. If you are using a later version (Word 2007 or later), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for later versions of Word, click here: Protecting Fields.

Protecting Fields

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated January 9, 2016)

Jonathan expressed frustration with some of the users in his company. His technical authors use a standard template for documentation. The template has fields in it that are populated by completing the information in the Properties dialog box (File | Properties). If other people use the template, they don't have their version of Word set to display fields, so they often type information directly into the document created by the template, thereby destroying the fields. Jonathan was looking for a way to protect the fields so that they can't be typed over and destroyed.

There is no way to protect only the fields in a document. There are ways around this, however. One way is to "notify" users where all the fields are located. With a visual reminder, users may be less likely to type over the fields and destroy them. Word can, of course, shade fields so that they are visible, but a user may not have this setting turned on. You can, in your template, set up AutoNew and AutoOpen macros to turn on the shading:

Sub AutoNew()
    With ActiveWindow.View
    .FieldShading = wdFieldShadingAlways
    End With
End Sub
Sub AutoOpen()
    With ActiveWindow.View
    .FieldShading = wdFieldShadingAlways
    End With
End Sub

This approach, of course, doesn't prevent overtyping the fields; it simply makes sure that the user can't say "I didn't know a field was there." You can get more complex in your macros, developing one that continually checks the Fields collection to make sure that the number of fields in the document does not change (increase or decrease). If a change in the number of fields is detected, the macro could then take whatever remedial action you deem necessary.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (214) applies to Microsoft Word 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Word (Word 2007 and later) here: Protecting Fields.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He  is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

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