Restrict or Permit formatting changes in Word Documents

Word 2007 lets you restrict the styles and formatting people can use in documents based on a particular template. I suspect that this will be useful for me in restricting the styles used in SharePoint’s Rich Client Authoring (aka Smart Client Authoring – I wish they’d pick a terminology).

Just as a quick example, though, you get do this through the manage styles dialog. To open this, open the styles menu from the ribbon, and select the manage styles option:

Opening Manage Styles in Word 2007

This will open a dialog box for you:

Word Manage Styles Dialog

The Restrict tab lets you see the styles in your template or document:

Manage Styles in Word - Restrict

You can sort the styles various ways, view all the styles, just those in use or ‘recommended’ (see below). There are some buttons for quick selection for the styles, (All, Built in, Visible (although I’m not entirely sure what ‘visible’ means…). The ‘Permit’ and ‘Restrict’ buttons, um, permit and restrict the use of the selected styles – restricted styles are shown with a little padlock next to them. In the screenshot above the only visible styles that are permitted are Normal and Heading1 (side note: you can’t restrict the use of Normal!)

Note that at this point ‘restricted’ styles can actually still be used. This was a bit of a surprise to me, but there is one more step…

The other control of note is the checkbox for ‘Limit formatting to permitted styles’. If checked, this disables the Word buttons for controlling the font, text colour, text size, bold/italic/underline (all that stuff) and disables ‘restricted’ styles. Essentially, it makes you style your document using just the permitted Styles in the ribbon. This is good for SharePoint as it means that if you use the Document Conversion Service (or as one of our customers is doing, cut and paste content into a SharePoint Page’s content editor control) you won’t have any inline styles – the document’s styles can be entirely controlled by a style sheet.

Anyway, one further tab is of interest – the Recommend tab:

Manage Styles in Word - Recommend

This tab controls what items are shown on the Style control on the ribbon. It controls the order in which the styles are recommend, and when they should be visible (some styles can be hidden until they’re used). Not that restricting styles and then checking the ‘Limit formatting to permitted styles’ checkbox removes restricted styles from the recommended styles ribbon anyway, but you may want to set the priority or visibility settings for the styles in your template.

Restrict or Permit formatting changes in Word Documents

13 thoughts on “Restrict or Permit formatting changes in Word Documents

  1. Donna says:

    Is there a way to only restrict certain aspects of a style. For example, I have a style named Body Text. It is set at .63 from the left, 12 points after, Arial 12 point.

    My template users would like to be able to highlight text, maybe make a font bigger, etc.

    Thanks for any help!

  2. Not that I’m aware of, to be honest. I reckon that you’d probably have to have a style like “Body Text Highlighted” defined, or maybe “Body Text 16pt”.

    The ‘aspects’ of a style are too numerous to restrict some and not others – and when multiplied by the number of styles in a document it would become an administrative nightmare. Avoid.

    Besides, how would ‘highlighting’ work? For some people, that means changing the text colour, for others it’s changing the background colour, or underlining – it results in inconsistent very styles, which is exactly what we’re trying to avoid.

    Yup, my recommendation – give your users ‘utility’ styles for the extra types of format that they might need. If nothing else, you’re still in control of the formatting then…

  3. Jill says:

    If the highlighting is only for collaboration, you can still use the commenting feature to highlight text…even with styles restricted.

  4. Yup! Though I’m pretty sure that those get stripped out when you use the SharePoint Document Conversion Service (which is why I was looking at this!)

  5. Jayzie716 says:


    You could define a highlight character style (instead of paragraph style). However, isn’t the point of restricting styles and formatting so users don’t make formatting changes (e.g., font size/type)? Otherwise, most untrained folks would use Comic Sans, 72…

    An idea: you could define some styles that have different sizes, so they have a little freedom, but within your defined styles…

  6. Hi Jayzie716,

    Yup, that idea was what I had – maybe to have something like ‘normal’, ‘normal with emphasis’, ‘normal bloody loud’, etc..

    Give them styles – but control what those styles are…. …that’s why the restrict tab is so interesting…

  7. sumeet gandhi says:


    I would like to know is there some way which will prevent users from changing the formatting styles while filling up a form in InfoPath 2007. They should fill the form as per the predefined styles and should not able to change any style like font, size etc.

    Quick reply would be appreciated.

    Sumeet Gandhi

  8. mary says:

    I thought this was a great way to keep writers consistent with styles when multiple authors work on separate documents that are later edited and compiled into 1 large doc (over 150 pages).
    If an author cuts and pastes text from a foreign document into the document he/she is working on (which is based off the restricted template), Word also imports the styles from the previous doc. This is bad news!
    The only way I know around this is demanding that authors paste in plain text only- however, I’m afraid they will forget and restyle documents, creating a mess.


  9. arizona says:

    does anyone know how to program a word template to automatically delete any fields that are left unsed. For example i have a mailing label that has the following template fields.

    company name
    address 1
    address 2

    say, one of the authors doesn’t need the “title” or “company name” field, is there any way to get the template to automatically delete that field and raise or lower the field to fill the unneccessary field?

  10. Paul says:

    In the Word options -> Advanced dialog, there is a section titled “Cut, copy and paste”. Within that section, you can select how the formatting of cut and copied text is determined: options include “keep source formatting” and “use destination formatting.” That should fix your problem.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.