If you practice the kind of law that often requires sending around draft documents for others’ review, you’ve probably gotten more feedback that you actually asked for. When you only want your reviewers to submit changes to selected sections of your document, here’s how you can restrict others’ edits in Microsoft Word documents.1
In Microsoft Word, you can designate certain portions of your documents as editable while locking down other sections to prevent text changes.
To start, go to the File tab and click Protect Document, then choose Restrict Editing:
You can also go to the Review tab and click Restrict Editing.
Either method will pop up the Restrict Editing pane on the right side of your document:
The parts of this pane we’ll be using are 2. Editing restrictions and 3. Start enforcement.
To ensure reviewers can only edit certain sections, we’ll first block editing on the entire document:
Then we’ll select the text to be excepted from the editing restriction:
When you click Yes, Start Enforcing Protection, you’ll be prompted for a password:
Whatever you do, don’t lose or forget this password! Even Microsoft can’t help you retrieve it. Either write it down or make it something you’ll remember but others cannot guess.
Once the document’s locked, your reviewers will see this when they open it:
Save your document and send it on, knowing it’s secure from any unwanted input.
Unless otherwise noted, all instructions and screenshots are from Microsoft Word 2016 for Windows. ↩