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Word: Remove a stubborn watermark

November 16, 2011

Here’s one I solved for a work colleague…

Problem

Word 2007 document with a stubborn ‘DRAFT’ watermark that won’t budge, despite going to the section and trying to remove it the usual way (Page Layout tab > Watermark > Remove Watermark).

Solution

Watermarks have always been stored as part of the header in Word, so:

  1. Double-click inside the section’s header to open it.
  2. Move your cursor over some of the letters in the watermark until it turns into a 4-way arrow.
  3. Click to select the watermark (you’ll see colored selection handles around the watermark text when it’s selected).
  4. Press the Delete key to remove the watermark.
  5. Repeat for all other sections that have a stubborn watermark that you can’t remove.

Update February 2013: If the watermark still won’t delete, trying saving the document as XML — see Amy’s instructions in the Comments below (14 Oct 2012).

115 comments

  1. Worked for me, THANK YOU! Could not get rid of that thing.


  2. Thank you, thank you, thank you, such a simple solution, and it worked like a charm


  3. Thank you – Oh my goodness. Six month battle trying to remove watermarks – and there you go!


  4. Thank you! That was easy.


  5. Amazing how easy something is when you know how. Thanks.


  6. Thank you sooooooo much


  7. It didn’t work for me. Help


  8. Thank you sooo much. A life saver in a time crunch.


  9. Thanks, saved me a bunch of time….


  10. Thank you. Could not make the “remove watermark” option in Page layout>watermarks remove it. This worked


  11. Super easy fix! Thanks for the help! Many happy internets to you


  12. Thank you!


  13. I can’t seem to get rid of the watermark using ‘remove watermark’ or by clicking in the header/footer and selecting the watermark. I’ve been clicking for a really long time. it won’t go away. It’s the only watermark on the doc, so I don’t see why it won’t go away.


  14. I had to save the doc as xml, open with notepad, delete every occurrence of the word that was in the watermark, reopen with word. Presto, evil watermark was gone.


  15. Glad you found a solution, Amy! That’s weird that you had go to the XML file to delete it.

    –Rhonda


  16. many Thanks, Broke my heart for two hours trying to remove it


  17. Thank you worked a treat!


  18. THANK YOU!!!!!


  19. Amy, your XML fix is what worked for me! Thanks a lot!!


  20. +1: Worked for me in Word 2010 (main solution).


  21. YOU are amazing! Thanks!!!!!


  22. Thanks….It worked…Glen


  23. Microsoft Word Help was absolutely of no help! Your solution of starting in the header section, on the other hand, worked like a charm. Thanks so much!


  24. WHAT A LIFESAVER. I wasted 20 minutes trying to remove a DRAFT watermark from the final version of a document I need to send to a client. Microsoft Word Help was worthless. I spend 1 minute Googling the problem and perusing the results and voila I find your fabulous, simple solution, and a great kernel of knowledge about Word. Your instructions were great and simple. Worked like a charm. Thank you very much


  25. Thank you so much. Worked like a charm.


  26. I too had to save as an xml file and then delete. Thanks for the tip!!


  27. Excellent! Your blood is worth bottling!


  28. To remove the most common watermarks you can use web services like http://watermark-remover.com


  29. Yes…it does work. But here is an added question. I did a mail merge from an excel spreadsheet with like 1,500 letters that resulted. Each letter has the word “draft” on it. I can remove the watermark one document at a time…but the thought of doing it 1500 times will put me over the edge!! Any way to remove them all with one click? Thanks


  30. Hi Kevin

    Can you run the mail merge again, but this time remove the ‘Draft’ watermark from the source letter?

    Are all the letters in one long document? If so, have you tried the ‘save as XML’ option (comment above by Amy, 14 October 2012)?

    If that doesn’t work, you might have to create some sort of macro to remove them from all section headers, or separate docs if they’re already separated out. I wouldn’t know where to start with that, so try asking about how to do that on the Microsoft community forums: http://support.microsoft.com/ask-community/more?Family=Office. Someone there may be able to help you.

    –Rhonda


  31. Wow how easy, never woould have thought of that


  32. Thanks for the solution! It’s ridiculous that the “remove watermark” option does not work and we have to search for another option on our own.


  33. Whoooo hooooo… I knew to google it so I didn’t spen hours fixing the problem with your help, Thank you!!!!


  34. Thanks for the solution. I would have never figured it out.


  35. it worked like magic. Thank you. I was just about to quit…


  36. Thanks SO much:-).


  37. Thank you SO much! This saved me literally 2 months work after trying everything else worked.


  38. Thank you so much! I was ready to start over on a new document.


  39. THANK YOU!!


  40. Boy, you saved my life! Thank you for the info!


  41. Amy your a gem – I can’t believe that you have to go to such lengths just to get rid of a water mark


  42. You Sir are correct! Amazing how everyone in my office didn’t have a clue how to get the watermark of. We all assumed it wa something very easy to manipualte, right in front of our eyes; when in doubt, google!


  43. Thank You so much!!!!!


  44. THANK YOU!


  45. amy’s XML tip saved my day!


  46. Thank You, my colleague was almost crying..


  47. Thanks so much


  48. Thanks heaps!


  49. Nothing worked for me, except going to print>properties>effects>watermarks .. There were 2 [none]‘s so I selected the first one and finally the watermark [none] is no longer there. :)


  50. Thank you so much for sharing the answer to such a pesky problem — you really are a PRO!
    Love, Jeanne


  51. That was very helpful too. Thanks a lot for sharing. Regards, Henry


  52. Great info, thanks so much!


  53. Simply perfect! thanks so much


  54. Another way to remove the Watermark behind a Table is to shrink a couple of the columns on the table (note your column settings before re-sizing), to “expose” the watermark. Then move the cursor over the outside of the table, and over a letter of the watermark until the 4 way arrow appears, then left click to select the watermark, once it is selected, hit delete, and re-size the table columns


  55. thanks so much! this has saved me tearing my hair out! so simple, but worked #smiling


  56. For those whom the Header>Select WM>Delete does not work… try using a instead of a backspace or delete. I had the persistent problem, wrassled it in a dozen ways with no success… did everything described above to no avail… but “cutting” in lieu of deleting/backspaceing, etc. DID WORK.

    One final thought… if none of that works, try two more “inelegant solutions”:

    1. Go into the header and select the WM and change the text fill to white… if on white paper/background it will work remembering you didn’t really get rid of it.

    2. MS Word also has under the MS Suite “logo” a Prepare>Inspect Document feature that when run, will identify if there are watermarks and offer to remove them. Problem is, it will remove headers and footers at the same time.

    Hope this may help.


  57. … the above should say… try using a <RIGHT-CLICK and select CUT" instead of a backspace and delete…. not sure why it dropped out when I saved it but I'm sure it was something I did. Sorry


  58. Worked in one second! Yay.


  59. YES!!! It worked for me too, just now. Thank you!!


  60. Are all of these solutions PC-based? Or for a newer version of Word? I’m running a Mac with MS Word 2004 Version 11.6. There’s no way to save as an XML document. There’s no way to “Prepare-Inspect Document.” When I open my Header, there’s nothing there so there’s nothing to select. Weirdest of all, this only happens on one printer. I have three printers connected to my Mac and on the other two, no water mark appears. But on my hp Laser Jet Pro, I suddenly have the word “Draft” printed horizontally on every page. This just started. I’ve had the printer for a month. Under “Insert Watermark” the button for “No Watermark” has been selected. I’ve re-selected it with no result. Can anyone help?


  61. Hi Glinda

    Yes, this is PC-based, and Word 2007/2010 instructions. I suspect Word 2004 for Mac is based on Word 2003 for Windows, which did not have XML options.

    You say you only see this on ONE printer and that you’ve only had that printer for a month. I wonder if it’s a printer setting??? The reason I ask is that in Acrobat Professional (which is effectively a printer driver for producing PDFs), you can set a watermark independently of Word. It’s possible that your new printer has a similar option, so I suggest you go hunting around in your printer options, and read the Help/manual for your printer to see if a watermark can be set via the printer options.

    I just Googled for your printer name and the word ‘watermark’ and came up with this: http://h30434.www3.hp.com/t5/Mac-Printing-and-Scanning/the-word-quot-draft-quot-prints-on-all-documents-from-the/td-p/1833805

    And this: http://h20000.www2.hp.com/bizsupport/TechSupport/Document.jsp?lang=en&cc=us&taskId=120&prodSeriesId=4337652&prodTypeId=18972&prodSeriesId=4337652&objectID=c03268519

    And this, where the user finally solved the problem by resetting the printer back to the factory defaults: http://www.justanswer.com/printers/7fm1z-new-hp-laserjet-pro-300-color-mfp-m375nw-printer.html

    –Rhonda


  62. Perfect! Thank you!!!!!!!


  63. You are a lifesaver. Your suggestion worked brilliantly. Thanks.


  64. Thank you so much! I tried everything else with no success, until now.


  65. Still working! And works perfect!! Thank you for saving me so many minutes…


  66. Thanks so much! One less grey hair and 30 mins of my life saved!


  67. Brilliant, thank you very much for this solution.


  68. thank guys


  69. Thank you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Hours wasted clicking remove watermark to no avail!!


  70. Whoever you are, I love you! Thank you!!!!


  71. Glad to help Jaimi!

    I’m a female technical writer/editor living in Western Australia, and I’ve been working with Word since about 1992 — you learn quite a bit in 20-something years working with a product ;-)

    –Rhonda


  72. Thank you, I had to figure this out real quick and was able to remove the watermark with your guidance here. Thank you!


  73. Worked like a charm. Thanks!!


  74. You are Amazing – thank you so much!


  75. Awesome, thanks!


  76. Thank you for this amazing tip. It worked.


  77. Wow, Microsoft ‘help’ page was no help, your tip worked like a charm, thanks so much for sharing!


  78. Thank you much, worked like a charm


  79. This was extremely helpful and so simple. Thank you so much.


  80. Thank you so much – this has caused me no end of problems, and such a simple solution. Microsoft word help writers – please update your guidance to be this useful!


  81. Thank you!! i was at a loss how to get rid of that thing


  82. THANKS!!!


  83. Brilliant. Thank you VERY much. amazing that this is all necessary though !


  84. WORKED!! thank you so much. I was removing the headers to get rid of it.. but this is great because you don’t have to rebuild the header.


  85. worked for me too ! The bug is also present in 4 years younger Word for Mac 2011


  86. You are a life-saver. I spent 3 hours + trying to get the watermark removed from a very long document. The document had all kinds of pictures, graphs and formatting, so it would have been a very long process.


  87. Awesome! Worked perfectly! :)


  88. “Watermark” may actually be WordArt, also held captive in the header. In your actual header, select words by holding your left mouse button down and scrolling over them and see if a box appears around your “watermark” as well, highlighting it. If so, it may actually be WordArt. Go back and begin scrolling over words in your header more slowly to select them to find out just when the box around your “watermark” appears. That’s the text area where your “watermark” lives. Delete that text in your header, noting that your “watermark” went with it, and retype the text. Mine was hidden in the first few words of the header.

    If it’s WordArt, you can select the “watermark” by running your cursor over it when you’re in your header, but “Delete” or “Cut” won’t remove it.


  89. Thanks for sharing, Jolene. I rarely/never use WordArt, so hadn’t thought that it might be an option for a ‘watermark’.

    –Rhonda


  90. Awesome solution – saved me hours.


  91. thanks a lot! super helpful!


  92. Awesome thanks soooo much


  93. thanx the page layout >watermark>remove … works


  94. The xml method works perfectly, thanks a lot


  95. Thanks – wasted 2 hours following Word help instructions until I found your post!


  96. Thank you! I was ready to throw my laptop out of the window trying to figure this issue out!


  97. Thank you very much. I don’t know why that stubborn watermark in that remaining section could not be deleted, but it’s gone now. So easy too (once you know how) – thank you again!!!


  98. OMG – you are absolutely fantastic! I’ve spent an hour on this!!!!!!!!!!!! Give that person a MEDAL.


  99. Well, you can always thank me by clicking the Donate button to buy me a coffee ;-)


  100. I came here first and it still works in Word 2010. made me smile for the first time today


  101. Thanks so much. I wasn’t looking forward to re-keying in the copy.


  102. Thanks, that was driving me mad!


  103. Thank you so much!!! This is a life saver :)


  104. Thank you! What a relief! Bob


  105. awesome – you guys really helped me out, thanks!!!


  106. I was at the point that I was going to set up a new document then cut and paste. What would we do without the internet and people who share. Thanks!


  107. HI,
    I’m desperate. Somehow all my Word documents end up with a watermark when printed. The watermark is not there in the Word document when making print preview:s or when going to the “Watermark function”. When I add a watermark it is printed on top of the one not visible within Word. When I print them as PDF:s they are Ok. Anyone having an idea?


  108. Thank you so much – I puzzled over this for ages!!


  109. Thank u ….sosososoosos much.. solved my puzzle…


  110. There is a second option. You can insert a picture in the header and have it work like a watermark. To remove the “watermark” in the header you open the header and delete it or add a blank as the header. http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/word-help/remove-a-watermark-HA101881319.aspx


  111. Awesomeness. Solved. BTW, I meant to leave 5* instead of 4*, but the mouse was doing it’s own thing.


  112. This may seem like a silly add, but better late than never. I had difficulty deleting the watermark via the header method and then realized I was in review mode. As soon as I changed to No markup view, the watermark was gone!


  113. What a relief! I left work Friday frustrated and then came in today and tried the same and it continued to NOT WORK. I was thinking about copying and pasting as well and then I thought “google the question” and problem solved. Thanks


  114. Worked Great! Thank You



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