Sometimes the confidentiality of certain documents is crucial, and preventing others from accessing these files is often not a practical option for everyday life. If this is a constant concern for you, you should know that Microsoft offers several ways to protect files in the Office suite.

Protecting your document with a password to prevent other users from accessing it, entering a digital signature to prove that you are the author of the document, restricting formatting and editing of all text or just certain parts, are the best methods we’ve explained in this article and here’s how you can do it.

Activate Word read-only mode

Strict read-only mode should be used if you don’t want the file to be accidentally modified. With this protection, a notice will be displayed when opening the document informing you that the author wants the file to be opened in read-only mode, but it will be optional for anyone to abide by this decision or open the file in text editing mode. Therefore, this option does not prevent editing of the document.

Step 1: Open a new document or open the Word document you want to protect. Then click on the Files option in the top right corner of the Word ribbon.

Step 2: In the sidebar, select the Information option.

Step 3: Next, click the Protect Document option.

Step 4: In the menu that opens, click Always open as Read Only.

Step 5: Finish by clicking Save in the left sidebar.

Encryption password

Using a password is a secure way to prevent others from viewing or editing Word documents without your authorization. To share encrypted files, remember that you must also share your password. But beware, Microsoft’s text editor doesn’t offer a way to recover file contents if the password is lost or forgotten.

Step 1: Open a new document or open the Word document you want to protect. Then click on the Files option in the top right corner of the Word ribbon.

Step 2: In the sidebar, select the Information option.

Step 3: Next, click the Protect Document option.

Step 4: In the menu that opens, click Password Encrypt.

Step 5: Create a password to open the document, click Ok and repeat the process to confirm the chosen password. Be careful, Word is case sensitive and it is not possible to recover the file if you forget the password.

Step 6: Finish by clicking Save in the left sidebar.

Now, to open the encrypted document, you will need to enter the added password and click Ok.

Restricting editing

It is possible to restrict the editing and formatting of your Word file. By restricting editing, you can allow users to read only your text, add comments or even select the parts of the document that can be edited.

Step 1: Open a new document or open the Word document you want to protect. Then click on the Files option in the top right corner of the Word ribbon.

Step 2: In the sidebar, select the Information option.

Step 3: Next, click the Protect Document option.

Step 4: In the menu that opens, click on Edit Restrictions.

Step 5: Under Formatting Restriction, leave Limit formatting to a selection of styles selected to prevent other users from editing the formatting of your file.

Step 6: Click Settings to select the changes that will be allowed.

Step 7: Under Edit Settings, select all the editing styles you want to allow. You can choose manually, choose to select all, the minimum recommended, or none. Click Ok.

Step 8: Under Editing Restrictions, leave Allow only this type of editing in document selected. Click on the drop-down menu and select one of the editing options: controlled edits, comments, form completion, or no edits (read only).

Step 9: By selecting the option Comments or No change (read only) you can create exceptions to allow editing of certain parts of the text. Select the part of the text you want to allow editing and click on All in the Exceptions part.

Step 10: Click Yes, Apply protection.

Step 11: Select the Password option to encrypt your document and make it more secure. Enter and confirm a password. Click Ok and save the document to complete.

When you open the document, you can see the formatting restrictions.

Adding a digital signature

A digital signature, also known as a digital ID, is a method of authentication that contains your information. Once signed, the document is marked as a final document, which means it will be available for reading only. Beware, however, signing a document is not a completely secure function, because if it is altered, the signature will become invalid and will be deleted.

Step 1: Open a new document or open the Word document you want to protect. Then click on the Files option in the top right corner on the Word ribbon.

Step 2: In the sidebar, select the Information option.

Step 3: Next, click the Protect Document option.

Step 4: In the menu that opens, click Add a Digital Signature.

Step 6: Add the type of commitment you want to have with the document.

Step 7: Add the purpose of the document signature and click Details if you want to add more information.

Step 8: Add the additional informative signature if you consider it necessary and click Ok.

Step 9: Finish by clicking on Sign.

When you open the document, it will be marked as final and you will not be able to edit it unless you want to remove the digital signature. To remove the signature, click Edit Even As It Is in the alert message.

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