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: Safely Relocking Forms.

Safely Relocking Forms

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated December 25, 2015)

Many people use Word to create forms that are then used by others to input information. I am not talking about your average, run-of-the-mill forms that are printed out and reproduced on a copier. I am talking about using forms with Word's special form fields to create templates that are used as the basis for data-collection documents that are individually saved with the data in place.

By design, these forms are protected. This can be both good and bad. It is good because it stops a user from changing information they shouldn't. It is bad because it stops you from changing any information you may want to. What happens is that when a user creates a document based on a forms template, the information they put into the form fields is saved in a new document. If you reload the saved document, unlock the form to add a new field or make some other change, and then relock the form prior to saving it, the information the user added to the form is automatically eliminated by Word and all the form fields are set back to their defaults.

Believe it or not, this is a feature of Word. Some would question that characterization, but it is how the forms feature was designed by the powers-that-be. The only way to overcome this problem is through the use of a macro. The natural place to save the macro is in the template on which your forms are based. You will probably want the macro to be available through a custom toolbar button or a custom menu command. (Adding macros to toolbars and menus is covered in other issues of WordTips.)

Remember that the problem manifests itself only when relocking a form; unlocking them causes no data loss. Thus, you only need to use a special macro to relock your form and you can use the regular unlock tool in Word to unprotect your form prior to your changes. The following macro will safely relock your unlocked forms:

Sub SafeFormLock()
    If ActiveDocument.ProtectionType = wdNoProtection Then
        ActiveDocument.Protect _
          Password = "" _
          Type:=wdAllowOnlyFormFields, _
          NoReset:=True
    End If
End Sub

The reason for the If...Then check is that VBA will generate an error if you use the protection method on the active document and it was already protected. Notice, as well, that this macro doesn't set the protection password. If you want to use a password, you will need to supply it in the macro.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (1570) 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: Safely Relocking Forms.

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. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Checking for a Text Selection Length

Need to know if the user selected some text before running your macro? Here's how to make that check.

Discover More

Determining if Calculation is Necessary

When processing a worksheet with a macro, it may be helpful to periodically recalculate the worksheet. Wouldn't it be nice if ...

Discover More

Select All Changes by a Particular Reviewer

The Track Changes feature in Word allows you and other editors to easily collaborate on the development of a document. If you ...

Discover More

Create Custom Apps with VBA! Discover how to extend the capabilities of Office 2013 (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and Access) with VBA programming, using it for writing macros, automating Office applications, and creating custom applications. Check out Mastering VBA for Office 2013 today!

MORE WORDTIPS (MENU)

Entering Many Items In a Drop-Down Form Field

One of the controls you can add to a Word form is a drop-down form field. This field is similar to drop-down lists used in ...

Discover More

Entering a Name in the Header of a Locked Form

When you lock a document as a form, then Word limits what you can do with that document. That includes not being able to ...

Discover More

Undesired Font in Form Fields

If you get unwanted formatting in your form fields, it could be because of the way you are formatting the line on which the ...

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WordTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.

Comments for this tip:

There are currently no comments for this tip. (Be the first to leave your comment—just use the simple form above!)

This Site

Got a version of Word that uses the menu interface (Word 97, Word 2000, Word 2002, or Word 2003)? This site is for you! If you use a later version of Word, visit our WordTips site focusing on the ribbon interface.

Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WordTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.

Links and Sharing
Share