Protecting a Table Column

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated March 16, 2013)

3

You may wonder if Word provides a way that you can protect the contents of a table. For instance, you may want to set up a table where the first column is used for text you don't want changed, and the other columns are used for text that users of your document would answer. Unfortunately, there is no native way to protect a column in Word. There are a couple of workarounds, however.

The first potential solution (and perhaps the best) is to create the table using Excel. Within Excel you can protect the contents of cells. You can then insert the portion of the worksheet into Word. The protection remains, and people can still enter information in the cells that you have not protected.

If you don't want to use Excel, you can instead modify your Word document so that it uses the form capabilities of the program. You would create form fields in the table columns where you want people to enter information, and then protect the rest of the document so it cannot be changed. The only drawback to this, of course, is that when you apply protection, the entire document is protected, not just the table column you didn't want changed.

If you decide to use the form field workaround, follow these general steps:

  1. Create a new document.
  2. Insert a table with two columns and as many rows as desired.
  3. Type the text you don't want changed into the left-hand column.
  4. Display the Forms toolbar (use the Toolbars option from the View menu).
  5. Place the insertion point in a table cell where you want the user to enter information.
  6. Click the Text Field button on the Forms toolbar. Word inserts a text form field in the cell.
  7. Repeat steps 5 and 6 for every other cell where you want the user to enter information.
  8. Click on the Protect button on the Forms toolbar. Nothing can be edited in the document now, except any text entered in the form fields.

This last step is the important part—it locks the document so that the user can only enter information in the form fields. Of course, the protection provided by locking the document as a form is very minimal, since anyone with any knowledge of Word can unlock the document by using the same steps you used to lock it. The way around this is to password-protect the document. (Full information on how to password protect a document is available 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 (3810) applies to Microsoft Word 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003.

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

Splitting Table Cells

When formatting tables, you can both merge and split cells. Here's a couple of ways you can easily perform the latter task ...

Discover More

Filling a Range of Cells with Values

When writing a macro, you may want to fill a range of cells with different values. The easiest way to do this is to use ...

Discover More

Problem with Missing Context Menu Option

When you right-click a cell, does it seem that the Context menu is missing an item or two? Here's how to get those items ...

Discover More

Learning Made Easy! Quickly teach yourself how to format, publish, and share your content using Word 2013. With Step by Step, you set the pace, building and practicing the skills you need, just when you need them! Check out Microsoft Word 2013 Step by Step today!

More WordTips (menu)

Converting Tables to Text

Need to convert all the tables in your document into plain text? This tip provides a macro that can make quick work of a ...

Discover More

Creating a Split Page

In WordPerfect terminology, a split page allows you to put information side-by-side on opposite halves of the page. If you ...

Discover More

Setting Consistent Column Widths in Multiple Tables

Tables are great for organizing and presenting information in a document. If you have a document containing multiple tables, ...

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

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is six more than 8?

2015-02-20 06:47:59

Charles Pilcher

Where is the "Lock the whole document option? I'm using Word 2013


2014-02-21 10:34:56

awyatt

What version of Word are you using, Peter? This is for older (2003 and before) versions.


2014-02-21 10:32:44

peter wallach

THIS IS WRONG. SIMPLY GO INTO REVIEW, LOCK THE WHOLE DOCUMENT, AND THEN CHOOSE AREA EXCEPTIONS. IT WORKS GREAT AND I DO IT ALL THE TIME. Where did you get the idea that you can't do it???


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.

Newest Tips
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.