Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016. If you are using an earlier version (Word 2003 or earlier), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for earlier versions of Word, click here: Allowing Only Form Field Changes.

Allowing Only Form Field Changes

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated November 14, 2015)


Word includes the ability to protect your document so users can only make changes to the document within form fields. Typically this is done just before saving your newly created form document as a template. Without such protection, people can still use the form fields, but they can also make changes anywhere else desired in the document. If you require this type of document protection, follow these steps:

  1. Display the Review tab of the ribbon.
  2. Click the Protect Document tool (Word 2007) or the Restrict Editing tool (Word 2010 and later versions) within the Protect group. Word displays the Protect Document pane (Word 2007) or the Restrict Formatting and Editing pane (Word 2010 and later versions) at the right side of your document.
  3. In the Editing Restrictions section of the pane, choose the Allow Only This Type of Editing In the Document check box. Word enables the drop-down list under the checkbox.
  4. Using the drop-down list, choose Filling In Forms.
  5. In the Start Enforcement section of the pane, click Yes, Start Enforcing Protection. Word displays the Start Enforcing Protection dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  6. Figure 1. The Start Enforcing Protection dialog box.

  7. Enter a password (twice) in the dialog box. (You can get by without entering a password, but that would mean that anyone can turn off your protection.)
  8. Click on OK.
  9. Save your document.

With this type of protection turned on, people can still load and read the document. The only difference is that they cannot change anything in the document, except what you set up for them to change in form fields. (Don't confuse the protection discussed in this tip with the protection afforded by the file password options. That type of protection was discussed in other issues of WordTips.)

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (10414) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Allowing Only Form Field Changes.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...


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What is 2 + 2?

2018-01-23 12:17:05


I created a read-only form with only the fields to be edited by everyone. So far so good. But I would like to use the form to be sent to others, they fill in only the fields and then save the form... but without knowing the unlock/edit password. Is that possible?

2017-12-01 13:53:17

Richard Kappler

I completed every step you mentioned above, yet when I open it, it does not go to the first field; rather it just stays there. When I click to close the document, it saves over itself. What could I be doing wrong?

Please advise

2017-08-04 10:53:48

Samuel Roberson

I have a question and it deals with form filled changes. I created a sworn statement document where I take people's testimony and record everything what they said in a basic word document. I created form fields on the documents such as name, place, and the date of the interview, and I included a rich text field where I can type the questions that were asked and type their answers. However, the problem with navigating the text field is becoming problematic because I have to use the mouse to navigate the field instead of using the arrows keys.

Is there a way to disable the arrow keys from jumping to the next form filled and just let them move up and down like normal in any regular word documents. Right now, the tab key and the up and down arrow keys jump from one place to fill in information. I need the arrow keys to move up one line of text or down one line, so I can navigate the text field area easily. Is this possible?

2016-04-09 12:27:47


I believe you must first add form fields otherwise the document sees nothing there for you to edit.

2016-01-29 14:52:43


Using MS Word 2007.
Had a file set up as a Form, with appropriate protection described here to allow only editing of the form fields.
Now all of a sudden, when I open the file - absolutely no editing is allowed of any form fields.

Have previously had multiple users complete the form with no issues, but now I cannot even edit previously completed forms.

What went wrong?

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