How to protect your Word documents

Office_June18_CThere are many tools that business owners and managers have at their disposal that enable them to do their jobs more effectively. One of the most important is the word processor, with the most popular being Microsoft Word. Word is favored because of the multitude of features available for users. There are many features that often go unused however, one being the ability to protect documents and set who can access and edit your documents.

Here’s how you can protect your Word 2007 documents.
To access the document protection window you can:

  1. Click on the Review tab at the top of the document.
  2. Select Protect Document which can be found by clicking on the Protect group.

You will see a new window pane open with three options:

  1. Formatting restrictions – Allows you to set restrictions based on styles used in your document. Hitting the radio beside this option will enable this. You can click on Settings to select which styles can be edited. Pressing OK will input the changes.

  2. Editing restrictions – Allows you to select how users will be able to edit the document. If you press the radio button beside this option, you will be able to select from four options:

    1. Tracked Changes – Users can make changes which are automatically tracked.

    2. Comments – Users can only comment, not make changes.

    3. Filling in forms – Only forms may be filled in.

    4. No changes – No alteration can be made to the document.

  3. Start Enforcing – Clicking Yes, Start Enforcing Protection will implement the protection you have picked in one of the options above.

You should see a new option in the window pane: Exceptions. This is where you can make exceptions to the level of document protection you have established. If you have set up User Groups in your network, you will see them in this option. Clicking the button beside a specific group will give them full permission to edit documents. You can also click More users… and add users by their name or email address who will become an exception to these rules.

When you have the settings established, click the Yes, Start Enforcing Protection button. If you need to make changes, or remove protection, open up the Protect Document window pane again and untick the box beside the protection option you choose. This will remove document protection.

Here’s how you can protect your document in Word 2010 and 2013:

  1. Click on File followed by Info
  2. Select the black arrow beside Protect Document.

You should see a drop down menu with the following options:

  • Mark as Final – Will change the document into a read only format, which indicates this is the final version. 
  • Encrypt with a Password – Allows you to set a password to encrypt the document. It will need to be entered whenever you open it. If you choose this option write the password down as Microsoft does not offer the ability to retrieve forgotten passwords.
  • Restrict Editing – Will bring up a window with the three options listed above (Formatting Restrictions, Editing Restrictions and Start Enforcement.
  • Restrict Permission By People – Allows you to set who can access the document from your network, or by their email address.
  • Add a Digital Signature – Allows you to set a digital signature that can be either visible or non-visible. This signature is often used to authenticate the document.

Protecting your documents is a good idea, especially if you are going to send these out to clients or a third party who you don’t want to be able to make changes, or edit. Some practical examples of this in action include a contract you send out to potential clients or employees, or sending out marketing materials with price lists.

If you would like to learn more about how you can leverage Word’s vast features to improve documents, please contact us today to see how we can help.

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