Microsoft Word 2007: Bullets and numbering in unprotected sections

Let’s assume you have a template where you only want users to be able to write to a few sections of the document but not in the rest e.g. because the rest is automatically generated, you would protect the document and make these 2 sections unprotected. In Word 2003, it is possible to write text in there and format things however you want including numbered or bulleted lists.

Now if you open a document based on this template in Word 2007, you’ll still be able to write text in the unprotected document but when you select text and right click to open the context menu, you’ll see that bullets and numbering are dimmed (disabled). Also the buttons for bullets and numbering in the toolbar are disabled.

What’s strange (apart from the fact that it worked fine in Word 2003 but not in Word 2007) is that writing a start and space (or a 1 and space) will automatically create a bulleted list. So it’s not just that bullets and numbering doesn’t work but just that it’s disabled in the context menu and toolbars.

The only solution for this is to defined quick styles  (the ones you see in the Styles group of the Home tab) with the appropriate formatting and use them to apply this formatting to the text in the unprotected section. So just define all the styles you want to use in a protected document as quick styles and the problem is solved ! This doesn’t seem to make much sense but it works. It looks like Word 2007 feels that applying existing styles in an unprotected section of a protected document is fine but using the formatting options in the context menu or toolbar is actually modifying styles.

Also if all you need are bullets, you can also use the shortcut for the bulleted list: Ctrl+Shift+L.