In this technology-driven day and age, piracy and plagiarism are an enormous problem for writers. However, another problem that no one speaks about is when someone tampers with a document you’ve worked so hard on and for so long. The worst is that the culprit usually is a friend or family member, and to be fair, said person usually believes he is “helping” you.  Please allow this blog to show you a way to protect your Microsoft Word document, and enable you to discourage others from “helping” without hurting their feelings. On the farther extreme is the person who will change a few snippets of your work so that it can be submitted as his own. It goes without saying that you should never lend your work to anyone whom you don’t know and/or trust, but you also need to be cautious with whom you share you work, even for criticism or a review. It is important to keep your intellectual property safe at all times.

In the top panel of Microsoft Word, click on the tab marked “Review.” Move the cursor all the way to the right, the “Protect” subsection, and click on “Restrict Editing.” A sidebar should pop up on your screen titled, “Restrict Formatting and Editing.” For the most generic, blanket protection, under number two, “Editing restrictions,” place a check in the box that states, “allow only this type of editing in the document.” You should see a drop-down menu under that statement. For the blanket protection, select “No changes (Read only), and scroll down to number three. Under number three, “Start enforcement,” click the button that says “Yes, Start Enforcing Protection.”

If you desire a different level of editing restrictions, in the drop down menu under number two, you can select from, “tracked changes,” “comments,” or “filling in form,” depending on what you want to allow your reader/user to do and how you want to protect the rest of the document. For example, if you are sending a form out to a client, you can highlight certain sections that the client is allowed to edit (fill in) and send back to you by using the “filling in form” button. After these steps, follow the last line of the paragraph above.

You may have noticed that when you selected “No changes (Read only),” a smaller subsection appeared in the sidebar titled “Exceptions (optional).” This is where you can select parts of your document and choose users or a group of users who are allowed to work in your document. To add users to your document, click on the link “More users” (this should have blue font) and add them, one at a time. Presto! The users appear in the sidebar for you to have listed. Again, when this step is completed, follow the instructions for number three.

Number one, “Formatting restrictions,” is a little trickier. You can click in the box to place a check mark next to “Limit formatting to a selection of styles;” however, after doing this, please make sure you click on “Settings,” a link that should appear in blue. When you click on this link, you will need to check the box at the top of the screen (and yes, it is redundant to the text you already clicked on). Then, it is very, very important that you scroll through the menu and select the styles for which you want to limit formatting. For example, perhaps you only want formatting in your bibliography. You would follow the steps listed in this paragraph, choose “bibliography” from the menu, and  click “OK.” This will enable the bibliography to be formatted. Again, this is only necessary when you are protecting your document.

I hope that you have found this guide helpful, and remember to protect your document. You worked hard on it! When having difficulty, remember that the professional editors at First Editing always are on call to help you.