How to Create a Watermark in Microsoft Publisher

Watermarked Photo

S. Chastain

A watermark is a transparent image or text that appears in the background of your pages, both online and printed. Watermarks are often gray but can be another color as well, so long as it doesn't interfere with the readability of the document.

Watermarks have several good uses. For one thing, you can quickly identify the status of your document with a relatively large-scale light grey "DRAFT," "Revision 2" other identifier that unambiguously identifies the specific status of a document being distributed in one or more draft editions before its final publication. This is particularly useful when several readers are reviewing drafts and is a better way to make the status of the document clear than the usual footer notation, which is often overlooked. 

Watermarking is also a useful way of protecting your authorship status when a document is going into wide distribution — over the Internet, for instance. In such cases, you can identify yourself as the author in the watermark and, if you choose, can incorporate the trademark or copyright notice in the watermark itself. 

And, finally, a watermark can still have a useful function if it's only decorative. Most contemporary publishing software provides a watermark capability. In this short article, you'll learn how easy it is to add watermarks to your documents in Microsoft Publisher.

Adding Watermarks in Microsoft Publisher

Adding a text-based watermark to a Microsoft Publisher document is quite easy. Follow these simple steps:

  1. Open the document in Publisher, click page design, then master pages, then edit master pages.
  2. Now click insert, then draw a text box.
  3. Draw a box that's about the size you have in mind (you can easily change the size later), then type in the desired text. 
  4. Select the text you've typed, then right-click to change either or both the font and font size. With the text still selected, make any modifications you want to the text color. 

Adding a graphic-based watermark in Publisher is just as easy: 

  1. With the document open, click page design, then master pages, then edit master pages.
  2. Click insert, then either pictures or online pictures. 
  3. Locate the picture you want, then click Insert.
  4. Drag the pictures handles until it's the size you want. A Microsoft tutorial on the subject notes that if you want the resize the picture evenly — that is, to maintain the same ratio of height to width — hold down the shift key as you draft one of the picture's corners. 
  5. Lastly, you will probably want to change the degree of transparency in the picture you've selected. To do that, right click on the picture, then click on format picture. In the format picture box, select transparency, then type in the amount of transparency you want.
  6. In the same format picture box, you can make similar adjustments for brightness or contrast.


  1. The procedures outlined above apply to Microsoft Publisher 2013 and later. You can still add watermarks in most earlier Microsoft Publisher documents, but in most cases, you cannot enter text directly, but rather by entering the text using WordArt. This procedure is discussed for Microsoft Publisher 2007 here. Other editions, with minor differences, follow a similar procedure.
  2. If you enter text directly in earlier Microsoft publisher editions — that is, without using WordArt — the text will enter, but will appear in an opaque black and cannot be changed. If you're running into this problem, use the slightly different procedure given for Microsoft Publisher 2007.
  3. Some later editions of Microsoft Word have similar watermark capabilities.