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How to create watermarks in Microsoft Word

Microsoft Word logo
(Image credit: Microsoft Word)

Microsoft 365 (opens in new tab) ranks highly in our list of the best online collaboration tools. The functionality of Microsoft Word is a big reason why the Microsoft Office suite remains so popular after all this time.

Knowing how to create watermarks in Microsoft Word 2021 can make your documents compelling yet professional. Watermarks are often used to protect confidential information, claim ownership of a document, or indicate the validity of a legal document.

Watermarks in Microsoft Word can be text or image. You can use one of Microsoft Word’s template watermarks, or you can set your own text or use your own image. We’ve outlined all these options below.

Note that while this guide focuses on Microsoft Word 2021, the steps for adding watermarks are almost identical for earlier versions of Word.

Related: The best Microsoft Office alternatives (opens in new tab).

Step 1: Inserting a template watermark

Word has pre-made watermark templates for common terms like confidential, draft, and urgent. 

To insert a template watermark, click on the Design tab at the top of the screen. There, you’ll find the Watermark dropdown. Click on this dropdown and select the template you want from the list. This will apply the watermark to all of the pages of your document.

Screenshot of how to insert a template watermark in Word

Word includes several common templates you can use as a watermark. (Image credit: Microsoft)

Step 2: Placing a watermark onto a single page

Sometimes you might want to place a watermark only on certain pages of your document. You can do this by going to the Design menu as you did in the step above and choosing the Watermark dropdown. But instead of clicking the watermark you want, right-click it and select Insert at Current Document Position. 

This will add the watermark to the current page only, so you’ll need to already be on the page where you want to add the watermark.

Screenshot of how to place a watermark onto a single page in Word

You can insert a watermark on one page only by right-clicking on the template. (Image credit: Microsoft)

Step 3: Creating a custom text watermark

You don’t have to stick with the small selection of text watermarks included with Word. You can create your own watermark text and format it as you please. In the Watermark menu, choose Custom Watermark.

Select the Text Watermark radio button. You now have text, font, size, color, and layout options. Change the options as you see fit and click Apply to see your changes. You can decide between a diagonal or horizontal watermark and choose whether the watermark will be semi-transparent.

Screenshot of how to create a custom text watermark in Word

You can set various options for how you want your custom text watermark to look. (Image credit: Microsoft)

Step 4: Inserting an image watermark

You can use an image instead for a more elaborate watermark. This is available in the same Custom Watermark menu in the Watermark dropdown.

Choose Picture Watermark and click Select Picture. You can now choose between images on your computer, images from OneDrive (opens in new tab), or perform a search for images on Bing. 

Once you’ve selected your preferred image, you can set its scale and choose whether it will be washed out.

Hit Apply to see your new watermark appear in the document.

Screenshot of the Printed Watermark dialog box in Word

You can source images for your custom watermark by using a built-in Bing search feature. (Image credit: Microsoft)

Step 5: Adjusting the placement of a watermark

If you want to adjust the position of a text watermark, you can usually just click on it to edit it. However, for image watermarks and some text watermarks, you won’t be able to select the watermark directly.

Instead, you’ll need to edit the header of the document. To edit the header, go to the Insert menu and find the Header dropdown. Click on this dropdown and choose Edit Header.

Now that you’re in header editing mode, you will be able to select the watermark. You can drag it around the page and alter its size and shape. Changes to your watermark will be reflected on all pages. 

When you’re happy with how your watermark looks, press Close Header and Footer to return to editing your document.

Screenshot of a watermark with an adjusted placement

You can move a watermark around on your pages to fit around your content. (Image credit: Microsoft)

Step 6: Removing a watermark

You can remove a watermark by following the step above and editing the header. Choose the Header dropdown from the Insert menu and select Edit Header. Then, click on the watermark and press the delete key on your keyboard to remove it completely from the document.

Screenshot of the method to remove a watermark in Word

You can remove a watermark by editing the page header. (Image credit: Microsoft)

Summary

Microsoft Word offers multiple ways to insert watermarks into documents. You can use a set template watermark, a custom text watermark, or an image. You can also move the watermark around and adjust how it appears on the document’s pages.

While Microsoft Office still rules the roost in terms of office suites, there are also many alternatives to Microsoft Office (opens in new tab). We like Google Workspace (opens in new tab) for its tight integration with other Google products and Zoho Workplace (opens in new tab) for its long list of useful apps.

Now that you’ve learned how to insert watermarks, you can also check out how to insert and edit footnotes in Microsoft Word (opens in new tab) or learn about the benefits of using Microsoft 365 for small businesses (opens in new tab).

Richard brings over 20 years of website development, SEO, and marketing to the table. A graduate in Computer Science, Richard has lectured in Java programming, and has built software for companies including Samsung and ASDA. Now, he writes for TechRadar, Tom's Guide, PC Gamer, and Creative Bloq.