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Microsoft Word/Word 2010 - lock margins, header/footer only


QUESTION: Good morning Suzanne,

        I am attempting to set up electronic letterhead for my company.  I've set the margins and made the first page header/footer different from the 2nd, 3rd, etc.  Now all I have to do is lock the header/footer and the margins so that anyone can create a letter or document as they wish but are unable to mess with my formatting :)  Any chance it's possible to ONLY lock the header, footer and margins without restricting anything else?

Thank you in advance,

ANSWER: Yes and no. The conventional wisdom is that content in the header/footer enjoys some natural protection from inadvertent changes (though this may be less true in Word 2010, where the header is somewhat easier to access) and that, if you have to protect it from intentional tampering, then you have a personnel problem rather than a technical problem. That said, there is an article at that purports to give instructions for "Word 2000 or higher"; the article hasn't been revised in a long time, so I can't promise that the macro will work in Word 2010, but I see no reason why it wouldn't.

The macro protects only header content (not footer, I think), and you can't protect the margins and other Page Setup setting without protecting the document itself. Again, this is really a training issue rather than a technical one. Better to give your users the benefit of the doubt and rely on their goodwill rather than frustrate them (and make them resent you) with unnecessary restrictions. If you make your template easy to use, users won't have any need to make changes.

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QUESTION: Thank you Suzanne, I appreciate the promptness and completeness of your response and I understand that there is nothing she can do to change how Word functions.  Though I think suggesting that people can easily be coached into not changing settings to better serve their needs seems naive.  People will always try to adjust settings ('just a little') to make their letter/document fit onto one page, etc.  

Am I the only one who feels that setting up consistent electronic letterhead by locking headers, footers and margins only should be an easy and functional option in a word document?

There are ways to protect documents from changes in formatting, but I'm not really familiar with them since I'm a one-person shop. But consider what you're asking. If a letter will all fit on one page except for, say, the enclosure notice, do you really want a second page just for that? I have letter templates that I use for clients, and they often ask me to try to squeeze a letter onto a single page. There's a certain amount that can be done with text editing, font size, and the like, but sooner or later I'm going to need to reduce the bottom margin or side margins just a little. In most cases, generous margins have been allowed (1.5" bottom, 1.25" sides) to make short letters look good, so reducing them all to 1" (which still clears the footer) doesn't hurt. I actually prefer to do that *before* reducing the font size from 13-point to 12-point. If such changes actually better serve users' needs, then isn't it counterproductive to prevent them?
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Suzanne S. Barnhill


I've been using Word for Windows since version 2.0 (1992), and the more I learn about it, the more I realize how little I know. But I may know a few things that you don't, and I'll help if I can. I answer many questions every day in Microsoft's peer support forums and as a result have been awarded the MVP (Most Valuable Professional) designation by Microsoft Corporation. You may be able to find the answer to your question at the Word MVPs' FAQ site or at my own Word FAQ site, so please check those first! Please, no questions about VBA (macros), Registry editing, networks, or complex merges, as I have no experience with these aspects of Word, nor do I have any experience with Word for Mac. Please indicate which version of Word you are using; if you are not sure, see "What version of Word do I have?".


I have a master's degree in classics (Latin), which is surprisingly helpful, though I no longer teach. The things I am proudest of: Having raised two children to maturity, both Merit Scholars, both college graduates (one a philosophy major!), one Phi Beta Kappa (from Harvard!); having been made a Paul Harris Fellow by my Rotary club; having been designated a Microsoft MVP.

Rotary Club of Fairhope, Friends of the Fairhope Public Library

B.A. (Latin), Agnes Scott College, 1966; M.A. (Classics), Emory University, 1972.

Awards and Honors
Microsoft Most Valuable Professional award every year since 1999; many Rotary honors

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