Excel Watermark Step-By-Step Tutorial

Man viewing charts on laptop.

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Excel does not include a true watermark feature, but you can insert an image file into a header or footer to appear as a visible watermark. For visible watermarking, the information is typically text or a logo that identifies the owner or marks the media in some way.

These instructions apply to Excel 2019, 2016, 2013, 2010, 2007, Excel 2019 for Mac and Excel 2016 for Mac.

You can add up to three headers in Excel. These headers, which become visible in Page Layout or Print Preview views, can act as watermarks for spreadsheets.

Create a Header That Acts as a Watermark

  1. Click the Insert tab of the ribbon.

  2. Click Header & Footer in the Text drop-down menu on the ribbon.

    Header & Footer option on Insert tab of Excel's ribbon.
  3. Click Picture in the Header & Footer Elements group of the Header & Footer Tools tab. The Insert Picture dialog box will open.

    Insert Pictures dialog box in Excel.
  4. Navigate to the image file that you want to use as your watermark. Click on the file to select and then click the Insert button to add it. The watermark image is not immediately visible but a &[Picture} code should appear in the center header box of the worksheet.

    Picture code in header of Excel sheet.
  5. Click any cell in the worksheet to leave the Header box area.

    Excel spreadsheet with watermark on the bottom: not for distribution.
  6. The watermark image should now appear on the worksheet.

Removing the Watermark

You can also remove a watermark entirely.

  1. Go to the Insert tab of the ribbon.

  2. Click Header & Footer in the Text group of the ribbon. Excel will switch to Page Layout view and the Header & Footer Tools tab will open on the ribbon.

  3. Click the center header box to select it.

  4. Press the Delete or Backspace key on the keyboard to remove the &[Picture} code.

    Excel header.
  5. Click any cell in the worksheet to leave the Header box area.

Repositioning the Watermark

If desired, you can move the watermark image to the middle of the worksheet, as seen in the image above.

  1. Go to the Insert tab of the ribbon.

  2. Click Header & Footer in the Text group of the ribbon.

  3. Click on the center header box to select it. The &[Picture} code for the watermark image in the box should be highlighted.

  4. Click in front of the &[Picture} code to clear the highlight and to position the insertion point in front of the code.

    Excel header box.
  5. Press the Enter key on the keyboard several times to insert blank lines above the image.

  6. The header box should expand and the &[Picture} code move downwards in the worksheet.

  7. Click on any cell in the worksheet to leave the Header box area and check on the new position of the watermark image. The watermark image's location should update

  8. Add additional blank lines if necessary or use the Backspace key on the keyboard to remove excess blank lines in front of the &[Picture} code

Replacing the Watermark

You can replace an existing watermark with a new image, as well.

  1. Go to the Insert tab of the ribbon.

  2. Click Header & Footer in the Text group of the ribbon.

  3. Click on the center header box to select it. The &[Picture} code for the watermark image in the box should be highlighted

  4. Click Picture in the Header & Footer Elements group of the Header & Footer Tools tab. A message box will open explaining that only one picture can be inserted into each section of the header.

    Excel dialog box for replacing a header image.
  5. Click on the Replace button in the message box to open the Insert Picture dialog box.

  6. Browse to find the replacement image file.

  7. Click on the image file to highlight it.

  8. Click the Insert button to insert the new image and close the dialog box.

  9. Save the changes to your worksheet.