How to Add or Change a Watermark In Microsoft Word

Word let you insert watermarks to appear over text

Young mixed race woman looking through paperwork
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You have a couple of options for inserting watermarks in your Microsoft Word documents. You can control the size, transparency, color, and angle of text watermarks, but you don't have as much control over image watermarks.

Watermarks work in Word 2016 all the way down to Word 2003, and the process for inserting or editing a text watermark or image watermark is almost identical in each version.

How to Make a Text Watermark

Microsoft Word comes with a handful of text watermarks by default that you can choose from. To use one, or to make your own watermark, enable Text watermark from the settings.

Screenshot of the text watermark settings in Word 2016
Text Watermark Settings (Word 2016).
  1. Open the watermark settings.

    • For Word 2016 or 2013, go to Design > Watermark > Custom Watermark from the menu at the top of the program.
    • For Word 2010 or 2007, go to Page Layout > Watermark > Custom Watermark.
    • For Word 2003, go to Format > Background > Printed Watermark.
  2. Select the bubble next to Text watermark.

  3. Enter the watermark text next to Text.

    Tip: You can also use this window to customize the watermark's font, size, color, and layout. By default, Word makes the watermark semitransparent, but you can disable that (to make the watermark easier to see) by removing the check mark next to Semitransparent.

  4. Click OK.

  5. You can instead click Apply to keep the watermark settings open to see how the watermark changes with the different options.

How to Make an Image Watermark

If you want a ghosted image in the background of the document, you can add an image as a watermark by enabling the Picture watermark option.

Screenshot of the Word 2016 image watermark settings
Picture Watermark Settings (Word 2016).
  1. Open the watermark settings.

    • For Word 2016 or 2013, go to Design > Watermark > Custom Watermark.
    • For Word 2010 or 2007, go to Page Layout > Watermark > Custom Watermark.
    • For Word 2003, go to Format > Background > Printed Watermark.
  2. Choose the Picture watermark option.

  3. Click Select Picture.

  4. Insert the picture you want to use as the watermark.

    In some versions of Word, you can upload a watermark image from not only your computer but also Bing or your OneDrive account.

  5. Click OK.

Before saving the image watermark, you can change the Scale setting to make the image larger, and disable Washout to lessen the transparency (to see more of the image).

Changing the Position of a Watermark Image

Word does not provide a way to control the position of an image watermark or to fine-tune the watermark's transparency, but you do have some options if you're willing to do the work in an image editor program.

For example, while you can turn off Washout in the settings, as described above, the transparency is pre-configured for you. The image might end up being too revealing or not revealing enough.

The only way to change the transparency of a watermark image in Word is to first change the transparency of the image using Photoshop or some other image editor. For example, if you make the image 50% transparent to begin with, then it will be half as revealing once you insert the watermark into Word.

Similarly, if you need the watermark image to be in the upper-left corner, or in the center but a few paragraphs below where Word is putting it by default, you can't just click-and-drag the watermark to adjust it. You have to open the image in an image editor and add empty space elsewhere on the canvas so that the image ends up being where you want it to be once it's ultimately used in Word.

To look at this another way, remember that right now your image is probably a large square or rectangle that, when inserted into Word, goes in the exact center. However, if you load the picture into Photoshop, increase the canvas size to the size of a regular sheet of paper, drag the watermark wherever you want it to appear, and then save it as a PNG or JPG.

The drawback to this method is that it could take quite a while to get it perfect, with lots of trial and error to position the watermark exactly how you want it to appear. However, if you plan on using the watermark as part of a template, the process might be worth your time.