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How to restrict formatting changes in Microsoft Word

If you are collaborating on a document and want it in a specific style or format, Word has a feature that lets you set your format and restrict changes in case it is going to be viewed and edited by another user.

  1. Select ‘Review’ on the Ribbon.
  • In the upper-right corner, select ‘Restrict Editing’ in the ‘Protect’ section.
  • A ‘Restrict Editing’ pane will appear on the right side of the document.
  • Under ‘Formatting Restrictions,’ check the box next to ‘Limit formatting to a section of styles.’
  • Right below it, click ‘Settings.’
  • Doing this displays the ‘Formatting Restrictions’ dialog box.
  • Under the ‘Checked Styles Are Currently Allowed’ list, uncheck the checkbox next to every style you want to restrict.
  • Alternatively, use the buttons below to populate the different checkboxes automatically.
  • All – This option activates all the checkboxes. With this button, unauthorized users can only use existing styles; they cannot change predetermined styles or create new ones.
  • Recommended Minimum – This option activates the checkboxes for only those styles that Word deems essential for the document.
  • None – This option unchecks all the checkboxes preventing unauthorized users from changing any format already being used in the document.
  • Next, we are going to the ‘Formatting’ section.
  • Below are your choices with their actions:
  • Allow AutoFormat to Override Formatting Restrictions- Checking this box means any AutoFormats that the user applies will affect restricted styles.
  • Block Theme or Scheme Switching- Checking this box prevents the user from modifying formatting by applying a formatting theme or scheme.
  • Block Quick Style Set Switching- Checking this box prevents the user from modifying formatting by applying a Quick Style.
  • When you are done with all the sections, click ‘OK.’
  • Depending on your choices, MS Word may inform you that the document contains formatting or styles that are not allowed. It will then give you the option of removing or keeping these styles and formats. Click ‘Yes’ to remove them or ‘No’ to keep them.
  • Now, you can go back to the ‘Restrict Editing’ task pane.
  • Click ‘Yes, Start Enforcing Protection.’
  1. When you do this, the ‘Start Enforcing Protection dialog box will appear.
  2. Type the same password in both boxes to confirm it.
  3. Click ‘OK.’

Note: If you or another authorized user decide to change the document formatting, you can follow the same process. When you get to the ‘Restrict Editing pane, select ‘Stop Protection.’ Then, type the password, and click OK. Finally, uncheck the ‘Limit formatting to a Selection of Styles’ box.

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