How to Mark an Excel Workbook as Final?

After proofreading and final editing of our Excel workbook and all the changes have been approved, we may mark the workbook as the final version to prevent or discourage further editing by team members.

Excel provides options for marking an Excel workbook as final.

This tutorial shows one technique for marking an Excel workbook as the final version.

It also gives five methods for preventing unauthorized editing of workbooks.

‘Mark as Final’ Using the File Tab Options

In Excel, we can use the Mark as Final button on the Excel’s Backstage window to mark a workbook as final.

Suppose we have finished collaboratively working on an Excel workbook, “Sales Data,” with team members, and we want to mark it as final to prevent further editing.

Below are the steps to mark the Excel file as Final:

  1. Click File on the Ribbon to open Excel’s Backstage window.
Click the file tab in the ribbon
  1. On the Backstage window, select Info on the left sidebar, open Protect Workbook drop-down on the panel on the right and click the Mark as Final button.
click on the mark as final option in the protect workbook dropdown
  1. Click OK on the Microsoft Excel warning message box that shows up.
  1. Click OK on the information message box that shows that the workbook has been marked as final to indicate that editing is complete and the file is the final version of the document.
prompt mentioning that the Excel workbook has been marked as final

Notice that the words Read-Only appear next to the file name, meaning that the workbook is now read-only.

In addition, the Quick Access Toolbar is disabled, and a yellow strip with the message, “MARKED AS FINAL An author has marked this workbook as final to discourage editing,” has replaced the toolbar. 

martha's final yellow color strip

We can also see that the workbook has been marked as final by observing the Marked as Final symbol on the status bar. 

mark this final icon in the status bar

Please note that the Mark as Final is not a security feature.

Anyone who receives an electronic version of the workbook can remove the Mark as Final status and make the workbook editable by clicking the Edit Anyway button on the yellow strip. 

Other Ways to Prevent Unauthorised Editing of an Excel Workbook

If you want to prevent unauthorized people from editing the workbook, consider using the techniques explained below.

Method #1: Protect the Workbook With a Password

This method prevents others from making changes to the workbook unless they have the password.

To add password protection to the Excel file, use the following steps:

  1. Open the Excel file to which you want to add password protection.
  2. Click File to open the Excel Backstage window.
click the file tab
  1. Select Info on the left sidebar of the Backstage window, open the Protect Workbook drop-down on the panel on the right, and choose the Encrypt with Password option. 
click on the encrypt with password option
  1. Type a strong password in the Password text box on the Encrypt Document dialog box that appears.
enter a strong password

Note: A strong password should be at least eight characters long and include a combination of lowercase and uppercase letters, numbers, and special characters. Remember to take heed of the caution on the dialog box and ensure that you keep a list of the password you have entered and the corresponding workbook in a safe place for future reference. 

  1. Click OK on the Encrypt Document dialog box. 
  2. Re-enter the password on the Confirm Password dialog box that shows up and click OK.
re enter to confirm the password

Henceforth a password will be required to open the workbook.

excel file has been protected

Method #2: Protect the Worksheet with a Password

We can password-protect individual worksheets in a workbook so that no editing can be done on those worksheets by anyone unless they have the password.

We use the following steps to add password protection to a worksheet. 

  1. Open the workbook containing the worksheet to which we want to add password protection.
  2. Open the worksheet to which we want to add password protection.
  3. On the Review tab, choose Protect Sheet in the Protect group.
keep the protect sheet option in the ribbon
  1. Enter a strong password in the Password to unprotect sheet box on the Protect Sheet dialog box that appears and click OK to accept the selected default options where only the selection of cells is allowed without a password. 
enter the password
  1. Re-enter the password on the Confirm Password dialog box that appears and click OK.
re enter the password

Henceforth the worksheet is viewable, but only those with the password will be able to make changes to the worksheet. Any unauthorized attempt to edit the workbook will only trigger a warning message shown below:

prompt shown when you try to edit a cell that has been protected

Method #3: Make the Workbook Read-Only

When we make a workbook read-only, others can view the contents but are prevented from making any changes to the workbook.

We use the steps below to make a workbook read-only:

  1. Open the workbook that you want to make read-only.
  2. Click File on the Ribbon to open the Excel Backstage window.
  3. Select Save As on the left sidebar of the Backstage window and click Browse on the panel on the right.
click the browse option
  1. Navigate to the folder in which you want to store the file. 
  2. Type the file name to which you want to save the file in the File name box, and select Excel Workbook in the Save as type box.
  3. Open the Tools drop-down at the bottom of the Save As feature and choose General Options.
click on general options from the tools drop down
  1. Select the Read-only recommended option on the General Options dialog box that appears and click OK.
check the read only recommended option
  1. Click Save on the Save As feature.
  2. Close the workbook and save the changes.

When one opens the file, a message box alerts them that the workbook author of would like them to open the file as read-only unless they need to make changes.

from showing that the Excel file has been made read only

If someone clicks Yes on the message box, the file is opened as read-only, and any changes made to the file are not saved.

When one attempts to save the file after making changes, a warning message box indicates that the file cannot be saved, and if they want to keep the changes, they must save the workbook with a new name in a different location.

Changes can't be saved in a read-only file

Method #4: Share the Workbook in View Mode

We can share the workbook with others in view mode, meaning they can view it but cannot make any changes.

We use the following steps to share the workbook in view -mode:

  1. Open the Share drop-down in the top right corner of the Excel window and choose Share.
click the share option
  1. On the Send link feature that appears, enter the recipients’ email addresses in the space provided, click the down arrow next to the pencil icon and choose the Can view option.
select the Can view option
  1. Click the Send button.
click on the send blue button

The recipients will receive links in their inboxes that will lead them to the workbook in view mode. They will only be able to view the file and not make any changes.

Method #5: Save the Workbook as a PDF

Saving the workbook as a PDF will allow others to view the data but will not be able to make any changes to it.

To save a workbook as a PDF, use the below steps:

  1. Open the workbook that you want to save as a PDF.
  2. Click File to open the Excel Backstage window.
click the file tab
  1. Select Save As on the left sidebar of the Backstage window, and click Browse on the panel on the right.
click on save as and then the browse option
  1. Navigate to the folder where you want to store the workbook as a PDF.
  2. Open the Save as type drop-down on the Save As feature and choose PDF.
select to save the file as PDF
  1. Click Save on the Save As feature.

Excel saves and opens the workbook as a PDF. You can now share the PDF version with others.

They will be able to see the data, but they will not be able to make any changes.

This tutorial showed how to mark an excel workbook as final.

It also explained five other techniques that we can use to prevent unauthorized editing of workbooks. We hope you found the tutorial helpful.

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