Create watermarks in Microsoft Word 97 and 2000

Watermarks can play a vital role in how your important documents are perceived by your audience. Depending on your version of Microsoft Word, watermarks can be frustrating to create and use. Here's a quick tutorial and a Word macro that make the process much simpler.

Using watermarks to convey specific information to your audience about the document they are reading can be very important for successful communication. For instance, in technical documents such as engineering specifications or procedure manuals, there can be a significant difference between a draft proposal and an approved final version. Your readers need to know what version they are reading.

Depending on the version of Microsoft Office you are using, creating and inserting a watermark can be a simple process or frustratingly annoying. For example, if you are using Word 2002 or newer, creating a watermark is automated in the form of a menu item. You can get to it by navigating to Format | Background | Printed Watermark. Once there, you only need to fill out some text and answer a few layout questions and then you have a watermark.


However, in Word 97 and Word 2000, you have to work through a few more steps, as ron2495 found out in the TechRepublic Discussion Center. Before you actually begin the process, you should decide what the watermark will be—text, graphic, logo, or a combination. The type of watermark will factor into the other decisions you will make in the process. There are several ways to create watermarks in Word, which can often lead to confusion. But approaching the problem from the keep it simple perspective, I believe that WordArt is the most efficient tool.

For our example, we will assume you are creating a watermark that indicates the document is a "draft" and that you want the watermark to appear on all the document pages. The best way to apply the watermark to all pages is with the header function. Here are the steps:

  1. Navigate to View | Header And Footer.
  2. Navigate to Insert | Picture | WordArt.
  3. Choose a style from the selection (the choices on the first row work best for watermarks).
  4. Insert the watermark text (in our example, Draft).
  5. Choose a font and make the size 96 pixels (the longer the text, the less pixel size).
  6. Right-click on the text (Draft) and choose Format WordArt.
  7. On the Colors And Lines Tab, change the Fill color to 25 percent gray and 75 percent transparency.
  8. Change the Line color to No Line.
  9. On the Layout Tab, change the Wrapping Style to Behind The Text.
  10. Click the Advanced button (See Figure A).
  11. Click the Horizontal and Vertical alignment radio buttons.
  12. Change both the Horizontal and Vertical alignment to Centered Relative To Page.
  13. Close the Header and Footer toolbar

Figure A

The Advanced Layout dialog

Under Format WordArt you can also choose to rotate the text, choose to make it bigger or smaller, or adjust the color to make the text lighter or darker.

In our example, we created a text-based watermark, but the procedure is very similar if you want to use a logo or some other graphic. The key is to center the watermark on the page, place it behind the text, make sure it is in grayscale, and make it light enough not to interfere with the words in your document.


Creating a watermark in Word 97 and Word 2000 involves numerous steps. So many steps in fact that you would not want to run through them every time you wanted to create a watermark. To automate the process, you could create templates that already have the appropriate watermark. The next time you were working on a draft document, you could just start it with the "draft" template.

Of course, there is always an exception. Sometimes you may want to create a document that is both a draft and confidential. You could create a new template for such occasions or you could create a Word macro that can handle any situation you may come across. The attached macro will turn the text currently residing in the Windows clipboard into a watermark. Just copy and paste it into your list of Normal template macros and give it the name Watermark. Copy the text you want to watermark into the clipboard and run the macro from the Word menu. (Download the Word QuickStart if you are unfamiliar with Word macros.) Watermarking in older versions of Word is now just a little easier to manage.

About Mark Kaelin

Mark W. Kaelin has been writing and editing stories about the IT industry, gadgets, finance, accounting, and tech-life for more than 25 years. Most recently, he has been a regular contributor to,, and TechRepublic.

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