Microsoft Word lets us block all comments and Track Changes by saving files as Read Only. However, have you ever wanted to block just some comments or Track Changes instead of all of them? Today’s tutorial explains how to restrict editing in Microsoft Word. Specifically, we will (1) limit edits to comments only, (2) prevent users from making untracked changes, (3) allow users to fill in forms without making additional changes, and (4) mark the entire document as Read Only for specific users.
Reader Alert: This tutorial is for general knowledge only. The Microsoft Word protection features shown below are not “hacker proof” and should not be relied upon to protect sensitive or classified documents.
The images below are from Microsoft Word 2016; however, the steps are the same for Word 2019 and similar for Word 2013 and Word 2010.
How to Turn On Editing Restrictions
1. Select the File tab.
2. Select Protect Document in the Backstage view.
3. Select Restrict Editing in the drop-down menu.
4. Check “Allow only this type of editing in the document” in the Restrict Editing task pane.
5. Select the drop-down arrow in the Editing restrictions section.
6. Choose the type of editing you want to allow from the drop-down menu: Tracked changes, Comments, Filling in forms, or No changes (Read only).
- The Track changes option prevents other Word users from creating untracked changes in the document; if a change is made, it will be tracked.
- The Comments option allows other Word users to leave comments but not to use the Track Changes editing tools.
- The Filling in forms option lets other Word users fill in forms but not to leave comments or use the Track Changes editing tools.
- The No changes (Read only) option prevents other Word users from changing the document.
Optional Step: If you selected Comments or No changes, you can exempt groups of users from the restrictions selected above. Additional users can be exempt by selecting More Users and then following Word’s simple user-verification process.
The option to exempt users isn’t available if you chose the Track changes or Filling in forms options.
7. Select the Yes, Start Enforcing Protection button.
8. Enter a password in the Start Enforcing Protection dialog box and then select OK.
Word will allow you to turn on your editing restrictions without a password by selecting OK in the Start Enforcing Protection dialog box. However, without a password, other users can simply turn off your restrictions themselves.
How to Turn Off Editing Restrictions
To remove your editing restrictions, return to the Restrict Editing task pane, select the Stop Protection button, enter your password in the Unprotect Document dialog box, and then select OK. These steps, however, won’t turn off restrictions in password-protected copies of files you have shared with other users.
Visit my Microsoft Word Tutorials page for more information on commenting and editing with Track Changes. If you would like to restrict style changes rather than Track Changes and comments, visit my related tutorial “How to Restrict Style Changes in Microsoft Word.”