Locking Paragraphs So They Cannot be Edited

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated May 16, 2020)
This tip applies to Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Microsoft 365


Karen edits environmental reports and develops templates for them. She wonders if she can lock boilerplate text, only a few paragraphs, so that the user of the template cannot modify that text. Karen doesn't want to restrict writing or password protect the template; she just wants to lock particular paragraphs.

There are three ways you can approach this task. First, the absolute foolproof way to include the text is to simply take a picture of it using a screen-capture program and then include the picture in your document. Someone could obviously delete the image, but they cannot change text that is no longer text.

The second approach is to use one of the controls available through the Developer tab of the ribbon:

  1. Select the paragraphs you want to protect.
  2. Display the Developer tab of the ribbon.
  3. In the Controls group, click the Group tool and then, from the resulting options, click Group.

That's it. The text in the selected paragraphs cannot be edited. You can later edit the paragraphs, if you desire, by again selecting the paragraphs and then choosing to ungroup them. (That's an option available when you click the Group tool.)

The third approach is more traditional, and it should be used if you want to protect the text using a password. (That way you can, at a later point, unprotect the text so you can update it in some way.) Basically, what you do is to insert Continuous section breaks before and after the text you want to protect, and then use the tools provided in Word to protect just those sections of the document. The detailed instructions for this approach can be found in this WordTip.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (13759) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Microsoft 365.

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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