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Info pane in Word 2010

In-depth with the new Info pane ‘Backstage’ in Word 2010.

When you click on the File tab in MS Office 2010 applications like Word, Excel and PowerPoint a page appears showing all the options that can be used to work around a document.

This is called as Office Backstage. Backstage can be considered as a collection of actions like encrypting, printing, sharing that can be taken on the entire document. Microsoft calls all the stuff under the ‘File’ menu in Office 2010 ‘Backstage’ though you won’t find that name used anywhere on the Backstage panes.

Office 2010 ‘Backstage’ looks very different from earlier versions of Office. However most of that is appearance, not substance. Backstage is about showing mostly existing Office 2010 features in new and, Microsoft hopes, more useful ways.

Info pane which is part of the File menu aka Backstage as the name suggests provides information pertaining to a particular document. This information includes details like file permissions, sharing, versions, file size, number of words and pages in the document, creation date, etc. The Info pane has four main segments which are “Permissions”, “Prepare for Sharing”, “Versions” and “File Properties”. Let us explore these segments in detail keeping Word 2010 as reference. To access the Info pane click on File | Info.

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Under Permissions all the document security related features have been grouped together. Here you have options to set password to the document, restrict access to the document and add digital signature. Click on the “Protect Document” icon under Permissions in the Info pane.

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You have 4 options related to setting permissions to the document.

Mark as Final

If you select the option “Mark as Final” then the document will be saved as Read only. This restricts any user who opens this document from making any changes as it will be in Read-only mode. Once you mark the document as final you will get a notification stating that you cannot add, delete or edit content in the document.

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As mentioned in the alert message a document that is marked as final is represented by an icon in the status bar and also in the info pane.

Mark as final icon.jpg image from Info pane in Word 2010 at

Encrypt with Password

If you would like to set a password to restrict access to the document then you can select the option “Encrypt with password”. Here you can enter password up to 255 characters. It can be alphanumeric. However it is case-sensitive. Only hitch is you have to take care not lose or forget the password as it cannot be recovered once lost.

Privacy and Security in Microsoft Office has plenty of detail about password features in Office 2010, as well as Office 2007, Office 2003 and even Office XP.

Restrict Editing

You can restrict the editing and formatting rights for a particular document. When you click on Restrict Editing option Restrict Formatting and Editing window opens. In the Restrict Formatting and Editing window you have options to restrict the formatting of styles applied to the document content along with editing restrictions.

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Add a Digital Signature

A digital signature is an encrypted form of authenticating a document. It confirms that the content signed by the signer has not been tampered and is original. It is usually used while sending emails. You can add digital signature to the document by click on “Add Digital Signature” option. A confirmation window appears wherein you can choose either Microsoft digital signatures or opt for third-party digital signature service providers.

Privacy and Security in Microsoft Office has step-by-step help to get a free digital certificate and use it to sign documents and encrypt emails.

Prepare for Sharing

Before you share a document with other users there are few options available to make the document user friendly and prevent any personal information from being read by others.

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Inspect Document

You can examine in the document if unintentionally you have saved personal information, hidden metadata and hidden or invisible text. A Document Inspector window will pop open where you can check the required options and inspect the document for the same. Based on the result you can remove unwanted data from the document.

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Just in the last week this feature or similar in earlier versions of Word would have saved a US Congressman some embarrassment.

Check Accessibility

You can check if the document content is easily accessible to people with disabilities related to reading. When you click this option Accessibility Checker window opens and if any inappropriate content found, it will be displayed.

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The issues can be fixed and the document made user-friendly for people with reading disabilities.

Check Compatibility

If you have upgraded your MS Office version then you can use this option to find any features which are incompatible with the current version when compared to earlier versions.

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When you click this option, Compatibility Checker window opens which lists out all the compatibility issues found based on different Office versions.


You can manage different versions of a particular document and open any of them for reference, comparison or even for restoring back. Different versions of the document you work on will be automatically saved with a timestamp and it can be opened as a separate document. If you have closed a document without saving then you can recover that by clicking on “Recover Unsaved Documents” option.

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All unsaved files will be stored in an UnsavedFiles folder by default.

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File Properties

On the right side of the Info pane all the properties pertaining to that particular document will be displayed along with a small thumbnail image of the document. If you click on the thumbnail image the control will be transferred to the document.

File Properties.jpg image from Info pane in Word 2010 at

Properties like file size, number of pages, number of words, tags, title, comments, creation date, author, file location, etc. will be displayed. By clicking on “Show more properties” few more advanced properties like status, subject and template will be displayed.

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