Watermarks are semitransparent words, phrases, or images that identify ownership (e.g., Copyright Generic Brand, LLC), indicate confidentiality (e.g., Confidential, Do Not Copy), or show status (e.g., Urgent, Draft). Last week, we added watermarks to PDFs with Adobe Acrobat. Inserting watermarks in Microsoft Word is more complex than in Acrobat, so we are going to divide the topic into three separate tutorials.
In this first tutorial, we are going to insert, modify, and delete text watermarks in Word. In the second tutorial, we will insert and modify image watermarks in Word. In the third tutorial, we will insert text and image watermarks on specific pages in Word.
This tutorial is also available as a YouTube video showing all the steps in real time.
Watch more than 100 other videos about Microsoft Word and Adobe Acrobat on my YouTube channel.
The images below are from Word for Microsoft 365. These steps will also work in Word 2019, Word 2016, and Word 2013. However, your interface may look slightly different in those older versions of the software.
How to Insert Text Watermarks in Microsoft Word
The following steps show how to insert built-in and custom text watermarks on every page of your document.
- Select the Design tab in the ribbon.
- Select Watermark in the Page Background group.
- Select a built-in watermark (i.e., Confidential, Do not copy, Sample, ASAP, or Urgent) or Custom Watermark from the drop-down menu.
- If you chose Custom Watermark, select the Text watermark button in the Printed Watermark dialog box.
- Enter your custom text into the text box.
- (Optional) Adjust the font, size, color, and diagonal or horizontal layout, as necessary.
- Ensure the Semitransparent is checked if you want your text and images to be visible through the watermark. (The transparency can be customized, as shown in steps 7 and 8 in the modification section below.)
- Select the OK button.
The Printed Watermark dialog box should close, and your text watermark should appear in your document.
How to Modify Text Watermarks in Microsoft Word
The following steps show how to modify the size, position, text, color, font style, and transparency of an existing text watermark.
Important Note: If you want to replace your watermark, repeat all the steps in the section above. Every time you add a watermark, it replaces the existing watermark.
- Double-click the top of any page to open the Header & Footer tab. (In Word, watermarks are part of the header even though they typically appear in the middle of the page.)
- Hover your cursor over the watermark until your cursor becomes two crossed arrows. Then, select the watermark.
Small, gray adjustment handles (squares and circles) will appear when the watermark is selected.
Resizing and Repositioning
- Select, hold, and drag the adjustment handles to change the size of your watermark. (The top, center handle tilts the watermark to the left and right.)
- To reposition your watermark, hover your cursor over the watermark until the cursor becomes two crossed arrows (see figure 10). Then, click, hold, and drag your watermark to a new position.
Text, Color, and Font Style
- Right-click the watermark with the crossed-arrow cursor, and then select Edit Text from the shortcut menu.
- Edit the text, font style, font size, boldness, and italics in the Edit WordArt Text dialog box. Then, select the OK button.
- Right-click the watermark with the crossed-arrow cursor, and then select Format Autoshape/Picture from the shortcut menu.
- Adjust the transparency in the Format WordArt dialog box. (The higher the number, the greater the transparency.)
Pro Tip: Explore the rest of the Format WordArt dialog box, particularly the Fill Effect button, for additional customization options.
- Select the OK button to close the Format WordArt dialog box.
Additional WordArt Options
- (Optional) Explore the WordArt tab for additional options such as Shadow Effects and 3-D Effects. (Note that this tab only appears when a watermark or piece of WordArt is selected.)
Finalize Your Modifications
- Select the Header & Footer tab (see figure 9).
- Select the Close Header and Footer button.
Your watermark modifications should take effect immediately.
How to Delete Watermarks in Microsoft Word
These steps will delete text and image watermarks.
- Select the Design tab in the ribbon (see figure 1).
- Select Watermark in the Page Background group (see figure 2).
- Select Remove Watermark from the drop-down menu.
Your watermark should be removed immediately.