Office 12 – Finalising and Protecting Documents

Four main areas:

  • Inspect the document, to make sure comments, review, meta-data etc is not left in by accident
  • Mark as final
  • Signatures
  • Digital rights management

Document inspector,  replaces the “remove hidden document” tool which is a free add-on and optionally removes the following:

  • Comments and revisions
  • Document information, document properties etc
  • Headers and footers
  • Hidden text

Finalise document:

  • Sets the document to read-only mode
  • Switches off all editing capabilities in the UI
  • Switches off spell and grammar check
  • The “final mode” can be switched off later,  if you or others want to edit it, it is not a security feature, it is a usability feature


  • “In document signing”.  Inserts a Signature line, that specifies who needs to sign the document, the visual experience looks like a paper signature area.  The document can be crypto-graphically signed, and then the only change that can be made is that the signatories can sign the document.  The signatories have a visual representation of their signature as well as a cryptographic one.
  • When people open the document,  the “business pane” shows the fact that the document has been finalised and is waiting for signature.
  • Every element of the above is pluggable, ie can be replaced by third parties
  • This is clever,  because it lets the author finalise and sign the document and then send it to other parties, the only changes these other signatories can make is to sign the document.
  • It is now a reality to sign documents electronically
  • This capability is provided in Word, Excel and PowerPoint (Infopath? – need to check)
  • In older versions of Office the signing line still appears and can be printed but the document can not be signed in Office

Protecting documents:

  • Builds on Office 2003 Information Rights Management
  • SharePoint document libraries can now implement IRM policies – wow this is really powerful
  • Because IRM gets applied during download,  the documents on SharePoint can be indexed and archived in un-encrypted form
  • The IRM policy can time out, for example for documents that are only sensitive until a particular date
  • The IRM policy for a document library can prevent a user from uploading a document type that can not be rights managed if desired
  • Password protection is still available and the encryption is now strong,  in fact the same as IRM.  Use password protection for sharing documents securely between third parties where Internet facing IRM is not available, but remember once you know the password you can do anything you like with the document
  • If IRM is available its best to turn passwords off
  • Infopath now supports IRM.  The IRM policy applies to the Infopath form template
  • Outlook now supports IRM protection of email threads, ie the reply gets the same IRM protection as the initial message
  • No desktop search of IRM protected documents

Steve Richards

I'm retired from work as a business and IT strategist. now I'm travelling, hiking, cycling, swimming, reading, gardening, learning, writing this blog and generally enjoying good times with friends and family

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