How to Add & Remove a Watermark in Excel Spreadsheet

Have you ever created a beautiful Excel template but were afraid someone will alter it? Without even getting your permission?

Or have you ever wondered how some of the Excel reports got confidential watermarks on them 🤔

To the point that it got you thinking, how did they do that?

Then wonder no more!

In this tutorial, I will teach you how to add watermarks to your precious templates and reports! 🤩

This is a fun exercise and you can follow through using this workbook.

How to insert a watermark in Excel

First things first – what is a watermark?

A watermark is a mark or a symbol embedded in an object to identify its ownership and authenticity 🤯

Typically, you can see this on hard copies of documents. Especially legal documents where validity and authenticity are always required.

But did you know that you can apply it as well to digital content? Not only Microsoft word documents but also Microsoft Excel documents and workbooks.

And it is a very easy thing to do 😁

But before we dive in, let’s start with the basics, shall we?

There are two types of Excel watermarks:

  1. Watermark image
  2. Watermark text

So what are their differences you ask 🧐

Watermark image is using a picture to embed a watermark on the worksheet.

Watermark text on the other hand is using words to create the watermark.

But enough of the terminologies and let’s head straight in!

Note that Excel has no dedicated or built-in watermark feature 😭

But the good news is that it can be achieved easily by using the Header & Footer menu in Excel!

Follow the below steps using the sample workbook provided:

Add a Watermark image in Excel

  1. On your Excel ribbon, go to the Insert tab
This is a default menu in Excel so you can see it right away
  1. Under the Insert tab, go to the Text section at the right-most part of the menu
The same section where you can see the wordart option
  1. Under the Text section, click on Headers & Footer
This is where we can see all the footer elements we need for the watermark!
  1. Note that clicking the Header & Footer will change the page layout view 🙀

But do not worry as it can be changed to a normal view once we are done.

Layout view has been changed after clicking the Header & Footer menu

Interesting isn’t it? Let’s try and add a watermark image first 😁

  1. You should be seeing three boxes in the Header section.

You may double-click any of those but for this exercise, let’s use the middle one

You can use these three box for your watermarks!
  1. Once clicked, a new menu named “Header & Footer” will appear on the Excel ribbon
This will only be available in the worksheet if any of the box is selected
  1. Click Header & Footer menu and select Picture under Header & Footer elements.
This will allow us to select an image file for the picture watermark
  1. Click Picture and select an image you want to use

Let’s choose from a file option as it is the most common method to get an image

Any of the methods will work but getting a saved file from local folder is most common
  1. Once you have selected an image, Excel will read the picture as a code &[Picture]

You should have the same Header section box as mine now

This is a normal behavior in Excel and nothing to be worry about
  1. Click on any part of the worksheet to deselect the box

Doing so will apply the watermark in the Excel sheet 😊

Example of a fully completed watermark

Adjusting the watermark image in excel

We have successfully added the watermark image in Excel 🎉

But it looks kind of odd, isn’t it?

The good thing is we can adjust the image to our liking!

Let’s try adjusting the position of the watermark!

  1. Select the box where the image watermark is located
  1. Move the cursor to the leftmost part of the Picture code (before &)
This should be the position of the cursor. Otherwise, the inserted watermark will not move.
  1. Add line breaks by pressing enter
Add enough line breaks to position the watermark correctly
  1. Click on any part of the worksheet to deselect the box
Watermark has been adjusted after adding line breaks

What if we want to resize the image?

  1. Click the header box where the picture is located. This is the same as the first step in adjusting the position of the watermarks.
  2. Under Header & Footer > Header & Footer elements, select Format Picture
Format picture is beside the picture tab
  1. Clicking the format picture will prompt a format picture option box
Resize the image using the height and width option under size section

You may now easily resize the watermark in Excel by adjusting the Height and Width of the image

  1. Click Ok once you are done with the resize
You will immediately see the changes on the watermarks
  1. Click on any part of the excel worksheet to deselect the box

Always enable the Lock Aspect Ratio under the format picture option. This will make picture watermarks more intact and not distorted due to the change in size 🤩

Kasper Langmann, Microsoft Office Specialist

Add a Watermark text in Excel

  1. The first set of steps is identical to adding a watermark image 😙

Go to Insert Tab > Text Section and select Header & Footer

  1. Select any of the three boxes under the headers
Same as picture watermark, let's select the middle box
  1. This box will now act as a text boxt. You can type in any word you wanted to add as a watermark
Using as example

Excel will set the font size to 11 by default.

You may opt to change the font size by going to the Home tab

Changed to font size to 36
  1. You have the option to add the watermark here. But it will show at the top part of the excel spreadsheet 😭
Word is too big and not aesthetically pleasing
  1. To adjust, select the header box and add enough line breaks. Up until it reaches the desired position on the worksheet.
Same process as adjusting the position for picture watermark
  1. Click on any part of the worksheet to deselect the box 😎
Word used as an Excel watermark

You can also change the font color of the text watermarks in Excel. Just go to the Home tab and choose your desired font color!

Kasper Langmann, Microsoft Office Specialist

Printing the Excel sheet with watermarks

You have now added the Excel watermark but you need to check first if it looks nice when printed.

Let’s discuss it here!

But first, we will change the page layout view to the normal view. This way we can see the document without any watermarks.

Note that changing the page layout view will not remove the watermark in Excel.

It can still be viewed or edited by going to the Header and Footer menu

Kasper Langmann, Microsoft Office Specialist
  1. Go to the View tab
This tab enables you to switch between page layouts
  1. Select Normal under the Workbook views
As shown on the example, the Excel sheet layout view is back to normal

Now that is it back to Normal view, let’s check how it looks when printed!

  1. Go to File
File tab contains MS Excel basic commands such as Open, Save, and Print.
  1. Select Print
You can print entire or partial worksheets and workbooks, one at a time, or several at once!
  1. You will then be directed to the print preview page.

As shown below, this is what a printed worksheet would look like 😇

If the watermark positioning is not perfect, you can always adjust it on the Header & Footer menu

You may also modify the format of the sheet before you print it.

Just go to Page Layout > Page Setup and play with the settings!

You can change the paper size and file orientation here

How to remove a watermark in Excel

Now that we know how to insert watermarks, let’s discuss how to remove them

This is a very simple task and will not take even a minute 😲

This is also applicable for both word and image watermarks!

  1. The first set of steps is identical to adding a watermark in Excel

Go to Insert Tab > Text Section and select Header & Footer

  1. Select the header box of the inserted watermark
The same header box we used to store the image
  1. Highlight the image or word used for the Excel watermark. Press backspace or delete
Include the line breaks if any
  1. Click on any part of the sheet to deselect the box
There you have it! That is very straightforward, right?

There you have it! That is very straightforward, right?

More than one watermark is not allowed per header box 😥

This means that you can only use up to 3 watermarks.

But the good news is that they can be a combination of word and image watermarks 😍

Kasper Langmann, Microsoft Office Specialist

That’s it – Now what?

You made it this far ✈

Well done!

And I believe you have already mastered the art of adding watermarks in Excel😎

It is simple yet a very useful tool if you want to put a “copyright” on your Excel masterpiece.

Do you know that aside from watermarks, other Excel features can also assist you with your daily tasks?

Do you need to clean your data before adding watermarks? Then Text functions LEFT, RIGHT and MID are your friends!

You will learn them (and much more) for free when you join my 30-minute email course!

Other resources

If you like this tutorial, then perhaps adding comments in Excel will pique your interest as well. A powerful tool especially when you are sharing the spreadsheet across your organization!

How about learning advanced project management tools? This will level up your project management skills! Read it here 😊

I hope you find this article helpful!

Frequently asked questions

  1. Go to the Header & Footer menu
  2. Select the watermark you want to add
  3. 2a. If it is a picture watermark, go to the format picture option and select washout as the color
  4. 2b. Text watermarks can’t be changed to transparent but you can select a lighter color
  5. Or you can use Word art as the watermark in Excel. This way, it can be modified using the format shape tool.

By default, Excel will apply the inserted watermark to all pages.

To quickly add a “Draft” watermark to your Excel spreadsheet, follow these steps:

  1. Access the Header & Footer tools by selecting the Insert tab
  2. In the Text section, click Header & Footer.
  3. In the header, type “Draft” into one of the boxes to set it as your watermark.
    1. You can adjust the watermark’s position and appearance by adding line breaks for vertical placement and using the Home tab for font size and color adjustments.
  4. When you’re satisfied, click any cell to exit Header & Footer – and you’re done!

This method is quick and doesn’t require any special graphics, making it straightforward to indicate that your document is a draft.

For more details, please see