Word: Add a watermark to all sections at once

May 1, 2013

My colleague, C, was trying to add a DRAFT watermark to her Word 2007 document. She could add it successfully to the cover page, but as soon as she tried to add it to the even page section or the odd page section, whatever she’d added previously disappeared. This document had several sections, and each section is set for odd/even pages and a different first page for the cover page. Without investigating too closely, I suspected that a combination of odd/even pages, different first page, and Same as previous settings for the headers were at play here. I suggested she start at the end of the document and work her way back to the beginning, but that didn’t work either.

However, I found what did work and that was to set a custom watermark. First, I got C to delete all watermarks she’d just added (otherwise she would get two different watermarks on some pages), then I got her to do this:

  1. Go to the Page Layout tab.
  2. Click the Watermark button in the Page Background group.
  3. Select Custom Watermark (at the bottom of the shortcut menu).
  4. Select the Text watermark option.
  5. Change the Text field to DRAFT.
  6. Click OK.


All sections (odd/even, and first page) had this watermark applied to them at once.

C was very happy and so was I, as it ended up being such a simple solution.

These same instructions apply to Word 2010 and possibly Word 2013.

See also:

[Links last checked April 2013]


  1. Rhonda: I had a user with the reverse issue in Word 2007. He wanted to restrict the watermark to one section of a document, but it kept appearing on all pages. Turning off the Link to Previous function in the page header didn’t help. Oddly enough, changing the watermark from custom text to a built-in option fixed the problem. Another workaround is to open the page header and insert a graphic with the text wrap set to Behind Text.

  2. was very useful, thanks a ton!

  3. thank you! this solution worked for me! :-)
    i am really happy. the other watermark non custom did not work for some reason. it kept toggling different pages on and off when all i wanted is for the watermark to appear on all the pages.

  4. How do add watermark for several pages at one time and instead of doing it one by one.

  5. Hi Kam La

    Watermarks are associated with sections, as far as I know, not pages. So you should be able to just insert a watermark (Page Layout tab > Watermark > then select one of the predefined watermarks, or select Custom and follow the instructions above) and it should apply to all sections at once, unless you have different off/even page settings for your sections.


  6. Thanks! I have the same situation: multiple sections, different odd/even headers, and I could not get a watermark to appear on every page. I actually started to set a Custom watermark, but it was not clear that it would do the job for me. After failing with everything else, I went to the cloud and found this. For once, something really *was* “that simple”; I just missed it on the first try.

  7. I just tried this with a Word 2013 document, and it worked. Thanks! My client thinks I am a genius now.

  8. Awesome! very useful! thanks heaps.

  9. hi, i need to apply watermark to more than 1 page on an existing docuemnt that has a table in it? how can i do this?

  10. Hi

    I’m currently away at the moment and don’t have access to Word. However you should be able to just select Watermark from the Page Layout? tab, and it should go in for all sections.

  11. thankx

  12. Thanks. It worked.

  13. Thanks so much! The “official” Word tutorials weren’t working for me at all (would only appear on certain pages, and then disappear when I added on others) but this did the trick!

  14. Thanks a lot, worked like a charm. I had a watermark that kept disappearing after I saved and reopened the document.

  15. I want to insert a Custom watermark that is a picture and it always goes to all sections. I am in 2010. I have different sections etc. but cannot get the watermark for just one page. Help! Please!

  16. Hi Laura

    It does this for me too, even if I have ‘Link to Previous’ etc. turned off for a section. The only thing that worked for me was to add the watermark (yes, it goes to all sections), then to turn off the Link to Previous for the sections where you want to keep it, then delete the watermark manually from the other sections. Very clunky, but it worked.

    See here for instructions on deleting the watermark for the other sections: https://cybertext.wordpress.com/2011/11/16/word-remove-a-stubborn-watermark/


  17. Hi – thank you, I just ended up adding the picture and putting it behind the text – then adjusted the color to washout. It worked too and so less clunky. I wanted different watermarks on different pages. Thanks again~

  18. I have a 2 page document which has multiple pictures on it.The texts in the document have been made with multiple text boxes of different sizes.when I try to watermark with text,it appears beneath the document (the document is enclosed by a coloured box).when the font size of the watermark is increased a part of the watermark is seen beyond the coloured box.I cant individually watermark the pictures as well.What can I do to get the pictures individually watermarked and the text also watermarked.
    I am not able to copy and paste the entire document finally to outlook from where I need to send the document.How can I do this.

  19. Hi Minu

    In my opinion, text boxes should rarely (or never!) be used in documents, especially for the main text.

    Back to your question, I would expect you’ll need to add a watermark to the pictures in a graphics software program, then insert them in your Word document — I doubt you can add a watermark to them via Word as watermarks are part of the the document’s header.


  20. Thank you Rhonda.That was new knowledge for me and I can stop worrying about thinking how I can watermark in word.
    Can you tell me as to what specific graphic software are you referring to?I am trying to do something which I have not done till now which is the reason i am seeking help and I want to gain knowledge and want to fulfill my assignment.Are graphic software programs user friendly and easily available?
    Also I found that the size of my document is very large that i’m not able to send it from outlook.I know that the pictures are contributing to the large size.How can I decrease the size of the document without affecting the quality of the pictures?

  21. There are plenty of graphics software packages out there, but for something simple and easy to use, consider SnagIt from http://www.TechSmith.com, which is fairly cheap and easy to use. It does lots of stuff, but two features in SnagIt Editor (part of SnagIt) are the ability to reduce image sizes, and to add a watermark (you’ll need to create an image to use as a watermark first then store it on your computer). Both functions are on the ‘Image’ tab in SnagIt Editor. The Techsmith website has lots of free video tutorials on using SnagIt.


  22. That was quick and wonderful.Thank you again Rhonda and I appreciate it.Got it done the way I wanted.

  23. It definitely did the trick for me. Thanks a lot for the great tip, and please keep up the good work!


  25. it worked with word 2013 thanks a ton!

  26. thank you so much – I couldn’t understand why I had this problem with my document and watermarks but now I have this solution I don’t care what the cause was because it doesn’t matter :)))

  27. I had an issue with a document, I wanted a particular water mark on 2 different pages, nothing worked. Using the custom watermark applied the water mark to whole document (All pages separated by section breaks and header AND footers delinked with previous) If it applied to one page in question it turned off for the other page, I tried everything. Then frustrated I COPIED it from one page and just Pasted it on the other page.. and finally I got it….still no clue how does that happen… phew….

  28. Thanks to you, but i need to add two watermarks in one page it is possible?

  29. Hi Naqeeb

    I don’t think this is possible using the standard watermark insertion method. But there is a ‘Custom Watermark’ option, which has a ‘picture’ option. If you create an image with both watermarks on it, and then insert it as a picture via the custom Watermark option, you may get what you want.


  30. Thanks, exactly what I was experiencing in Office 365 / Word 2013

  31. Thank you so much. Was going nuts trying to figure out how to place on every page. This was easy to follow. Great job.

  32. Thanks so much, this solved my problem!

  33. WORKS – Thanks –

  34. Thanks! I was also struggling with this issue (or is it a bug?)

  35. Thank you, this worked for me with Word 2010. I now have a (custom) DRAFT watermark on every page of my report, with just a few clicks of the mouse.

    However, the real question is, why on earth did Microsoft create a product with built-in watermarks that can only be added to a single page in a document. Mine would disappear from the first page of a report, when I added them to the second (different first page headers), or they would be removed from one section when I added them to another. It makes you wonder whether Microsoft ever properly test their products before they issue them. This is just basic functionality, that doesn’t seem to function as it should!

  36. This was very helpful! Thanks!

  37. i know how to use the watermark but I need to appear only in cover page not the rest of the page please can someone help me

  38. Hi Mary

    My guess is you need to set the ‘Different First Page’ attribute for the header.


  39. Thank you very much, this helped me out

  40. Can one add watermark to a copy and paste document?

  41. This is big help! Thank you so much!

  42. Still working! Thanks!

  43. Thanks – it worked in Word 2016!

  44. Thanks! Very simple and effective solution, I almost removed all the section breaks in desperation.

  45. >These same instructions apply to Word 2010 and possibly Word 2013.

    I think not. In my instance of Word 2013, the Page layout tab features no “Page Background” group and no “Watermark” button.

  46. In my Word 2013, I found the following worked. It’s similar to the advice above, but for me it starts out from a different place.
    Normally I have the “HOME” tab in focus.
    Changed this to “DESIGN” tab. At the far right, there is a “Watermark” dropdown button. Clicking this pops up a dialog with some template watermarks to choose from; also some options at the bottom, one of which is “Custom Watermark…”.
    Click “Custom Watermark…” and you get a dialog called “Printed Watermark”. Choose “Text watermark” and customise using the options available.

  47. Thank you, I needed this and it worked brilliantly. :)

  48. I know this is an ancient post, but it just solved my problem today. Thanks!

  49. Also worked for me – thank you. I had been struggling with that for ages! (Also reached via the ‘Design’ tab) for me.

  50. It’s 2020 and whatever new version of Word has watermark in its Design ribbon instead of Page Layout – your old trick advice of using custom watermark feature so the watermark appears on ever page instead of only some – still works a treat! Thank you!

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