Protecting specific cells in an Excel sheet is easy. Protecting cells in a Word table isn’t as easy, but it can be done: you insert a Text Form Field control into each cell where you want users to input or modify values. Then, you protect the document. Only those cells with the controls will allow changes. The solution’s a bit convoluted and works best with a simple document.

To protect and unprotect cells in a Word table, do the following:

  1. Create the table and enter the labels or values you want to protect as you normally would.
  2. Select a cell where you want users to enter information.
  3. Click the Developer tab.
  4. In the Controls group, click the Legacy Tools option and choose Text Form Field. In Word 2003, display the Forms toolbar and click Text Form Field.
  5. Continue to select input cells and insert controls until you’re done.
  6. Click Restrict Editing in the Protect group. In Word 2003, choose Protect Document from the Tools menu.
  7. In the resulting task pane, choose Filling In Forms from 2. Editing Restrictions, and then click Yes, Start Enforcing Protection. (In Word 2003, you can click Protect Form on the Forms toolbar instead.)
  8. Enter a password twice, and click OK.

After enabling protection, Word won’t let you select normal text. You can only select and input data in the cells containing a Text Form Field control. If the document contains elements and text other than the table, Word protects everything but the Text Form Field controls.

I recommend using an Excel sheet instead of protecting a Word table in this manner, because this Word protection technique isn’t very flexible. However, it’s a good one to know when your hands are tied.