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8. Understanding Document Protection
When sharing documents, it can be useful to limit what kind of interactions other users can have. Learn how to limit document editing by restricting a document with a password.
Learn how to interact with suggestions made by collaborators.
Why protect a document?
As we learned in the previous lesson, the best way to add suggestions to a document is to ensure that all changes are being tracked.
Giving access to multiple people and ensuring that they all track their changes can be difficult. Some users may forget to track changes and other users may not be very adept at Word, so they might not understand how to Track Changes.
We can add a layer of protection to our document which can limit the extent to which collaborators can interact with our document. This prevents them from making drastic changes to the document which can be difficult or even impossible to undo.
Different types of document protection
To start protecting a document we need to click the Restrict Editing command in the Review tab. This opens the Restrict Editing pane to the right.
In the second section of this pane, we can choose the type of restrction from a dropdown box. If we choose Track Changes, other users will be able to add text to the document, but they will not be able to turn off Track Changes.
If we set it to Comments, other users won’t be able to add text to the document, but they will be able to add comments.
If we set it to Filling in Forms, the users will be able to add text to the document, but only to Word forms. To learn more about Word forms, feel free to have a look at our course on Word’s Specialized Functionality.
Finally, if we set it to No Changes (Read Only), the user will not be able to type at all. They will only be able to read the document.
To finish, add a password and ensure you remember it. This password cannot be recovered if it is forgotten.
In the previous lesson, we learned how to suggest and review changes to the document. In this lesson we'll learn how to control how collaborators can interact with shared documents.
For trusted collaborators, sharing a document and asking for suggestions is straightforward. However, distributing a document to multiple collaborators can carry risks, especially if the text should not be altered.
This is because if the reviewer does not track changes, they can erase or overwrite critical elements of the document. There are methods for recovering this text but they can be complicated and aren't guaranteed to work.
Instead, we can add protections to our document that keeps Track Changes on for certain users.
This means that all changes made by these users will be added as suggestions which we can choose to accept or reject.
We'll return to the document from the previous lesson to apply these changes.
We'll start by navigating to the Review tab where we'll find the Protect group.
We'll click the Restrict Editing command to bring up the Restrictions pane to the right.
Restricting documents is a three-step process. First, we can choose to limit how much other authors can change the document's formatting.
We'll click Settings to get a closer look.
We can see that we have a lot of control over which formatting we can permit. We'll click the first checkbox to enable other options below.
We can lock all styles, none of them, or choose to lock certain styles in this list.
There are a lot to choose from, so to save time we'll click Recommended Minimum to let Word decide which style should be locked.
Below this we also have additional options.
Note that we have options for preventing users from changing themes and clip arts. We'll click OK to set restrictions to the recommended minimum.
Next, we'll choose the specific editing restrictions.
We'll click the checkbox to enable this feature.
The dropdown gives us a few options.
As stated before, selecting Track Changes means that any changes made by collaborators are stored as suggestions, rather than permanent edits. By selecting Comments, collaborators will not be able to interact with a document, but they will be able to leave comments.
Filling in forms restricts editing to filling in Word forms.
Finally, we can select No Changes to remove all editing privileges.
We'll select Track Changes and move on to the final step.
We'll click Yes, start enforcing protection, to open a new window. Note that this won't immediately start enforcing protection. First we have to choose a protection type.
We'll opt to use a password to protect these restrictions.
This is very useful when we want to control access to the document. For example, let's assume that we're working with two groups of collaborators. The first group must have full access to the document, and the second group should have restricted access.
When sharing the document to the first group, we'll also share the password so they can bypass the restrictions.
We'll enter the password cubicle in all lowercase characters and click OK to enforce the protections.
Be sure not to lose or forget your password.
There's no easy method for removing or bypassing it, so you stand to lose important information.
Now that we've set up restrictions on the document, we'll stop the lesson here. In the next lesson, we'll learn how we can compare and consolidate two competing versions of the same document.