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 turn on editing restrictions and then (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.
The final section shows how to turn off editing restrictions.
Reader Alert: This tutorial is for general knowledge only. Microsoft Word’s basic protection features are not “hacker proof” and should not be relied upon to protect sensitive or classified documents.
This tutorial is available as a YouTube video showing all the steps in real time.
Watch more than 100 other writing-related software tutorials on my YouTube channel.
The images below are from Word for Microsoft 365. These steps also apply to Word 2021, Word 2019, Word 2016, Word 2013, and Word 2010.
How to Turn On Editing Restrictions
- Select the File tab in the ribbon.
- Select the Info tab in the Backstage view.
- Select the Protect Document button.
- Select Restrict Editing in the drop-down menu.
- Check Allow only this type of editing in the document in the Restrict Editing task pane.
- Select the menu arrow in the Editing restrictions section.
- 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: Exceptions
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 user-verification process.
The option to exempt users isn’t available if you chose the Track changes or Filling in forms options.
- Select the Yes, Start Enforcing Protection button.
- Enter and then reenter a password in the Start Enforcing Protection dialog box.
- Select the OK button to close the Start Enforcing Protection dialog box.
Important Note: 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
You can turn off editing restrictions added to your own documents. However, these steps won’t turn off restrictions in password-protected copies of files you have shared with other users.
- Select the File tab in the ribbon (see figure 1).
- Select the Info tab in the Backstage view (see figure 2).
- Select the Protect Document button. Note that the text near the button now says, “Certain types of changes are restricted in this document.”
- Select Restrict Editing in the drop-down menu (see figure 4).
- Select the Stop Protection button in the Restrict Editing task pane.
- Enter your password in the text box in the Unprotect Document dialog box.
- Select the OK button to close the Unprotect Document dialog box.
Updated February 20, 2022