I Can't Start Enforcing Protection on a Word Document

By Chad Davis

Apply formatting and editing restrictions in Word using the Restrict Editing panel.
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Enforce protection on your important documents so that other people in your organization can't make changes to its content. In Microsoft Word 2013 you can use the Restrict Editing panel to enforce protection in your document. If you're unable to start enforcing protection, then the document may be in use by another person, protection may already be enabled or another attribute may be disabling the function. Documents that have been marked as the final version, or read-only, will restrict the level of protection you can enforce. Document protection may also be removed whenever Design Mode is enabled.

Word Document Protection Settings

Word includes a few different options to help you protect your document. You can access the document protection options in Word via the Info pane of the File menu. Click the "Protect Document" drop-down button and then select one of the available options. You can also enable the Developer ribbon to access additional document protection commands. Right-click on one of the tabs and then click "Customize the Ribbon…" Check the box next to "Developer" under Main Tabs and then click the "OK" button to enable the Developer ribbon.

Restrict Editing Panel

To access the Restrict Editing panel and enforce protection, click "Restrict Editing" in the "Protect Document" drop-down button of the File menu, or click "Restrict Editing" in the Protect group of the Developer ribbon. Check one or both of the boxes in sections one and two of the panel and then click "Yes, Start Enforcing Protection." Enter an optional password and then click the "OK" button to begin enforcing protection. If the boxes are grayed out in the Restrict Editing panel, your document may be marked as final or read-only or Design Mode may be enabled.

Marked as Final

If your document has been marked as the final version, then a small Mark as Final icon, resembling a rubber stamp, will be present in the bottom status bar. In order to make changes to the document, you must click the "Edit Anyway" button in the yellow information bar that appears at the top of your document. Once you've enabled editing, the "Restrict Editing" option will be made available again. Check with the author of the document before making changes to document marked as final.

Read-Only File

Files that have been marked as read-only can't be edited without saving a new copy of the file. While you can edit the document in Word, you won't be able to save the file with the same name. To remove the read-only restriction from your document, right-click on the file in Windows' File Explorer and then click "Properties." Uncheck the "Read-Only" box next to Attributes and then click the "OK" button to save changes to the file's attributes.

Design Mode

When Design Mode is enabled you won't be able enforce protection. To disable Design Mode, click on the "Developer" tab and then click the "Design Mode" button in the Controls group. The Design Mode button appears with a blue background when it's enabled. Once you've disabled Design Mode, the Restrict Editing button in the Protect group will no longer be grayed out. Alternatively, you can press "Alt," "L," "D" and then "N" to toggle Design Mode.