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: Allowing Only Form Field Changes.

Allowing Only Form Field Changes

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated November 12, 2014)

Word includes the ability to protect your document so users can only make changes to the document within form fields. Typically this is done just before saving your newly created form document as a template. Without such protection, people can still use the form fields, but they can also make changes anywhere else desired in the document. If you require this type of document protection, follow these steps if you are using Word 2002 or Word 2003:

  1. Choose Protect Document from the Tools menu. Word displays the Protect Document pane at the right of the document window.
  2. In the Editing Restrictions section of the pane, choose the Allow Only This Type of Editing in the Document checkbox. Word enables the drop-down list under the checkbox.
  3. Using the drop-down list, choose Filling In Forms.
  4. Click Yes, Start Enforcing Protection. Word displays the Start Enforcing Protection dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  5. Figure 1. The Start Enforcing Protection dialog box.

  6. Enter a password (twice) in the dialog box.
  7. Click on OK.
  8. Save the file as normal.

If you are using Word 97 or Word 2000, follow these steps:

  1. Choose Protect Document from the Tools menu. The Protect Document dialog box appears.
  2. Make sure the Forms radio button is selected.
  3. Enter an optional password. (This is a good idea, since anyone can turn protection off if you don't specify a password.)
  4. Click on OK. Word displays the Confirm Password dialog box.
  5. Enter your password again.
  6. Click on OK.
  7. Save your document.

With this type of protection turned on, people can still load and read the document. The only difference is that they cannot change anything in the document, except what you set up for them to change in form fields. (Don't confuse the protection discussed in this tip with the protection afforded by the file password options. That type of protection was discussed in other issues of WordTips.)

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (918) 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: Allowing Only Form Field Changes.

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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