Posts Tagged ‘watermark’


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. (In later versions of Word, go to the Design 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.

See also:

[Links last checked April 2013]


Word: Remove a stubborn watermark

November 16, 2011

Here’s one I solved for a work colleague…


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 (Word 2007: Page Layout tab > Watermark > Remove Watermark; later versions of Word: Design tab > Page Background group on the far right > Watermark > Remove Watermark).


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

  1. Turn off track changes.
  2. Double-click inside the section’s header to open it.
  3. Move your cursor over some of the letters in the watermark until it turns into a 4-way arrow.
  4. Click to select the watermark (you’ll see colored selection handles around the watermark text when it’s selected).
  5. Press the Delete key to remove the watermark.
  6. 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 (14 Oct 2012), and the following update immediately below.

Update March 2019: See below for the steps for saving as XML and deleting it that way. NOTE: Make a copy of your document and work on the copy. (Always work on a copy to test something you’ve never tried before or aren’t confident doing.)

  1. Open your document in Word.
  2. Save the document as an XML document: File > Save As and choose XML Document from the list of file types.
  3. Close Word. You’ll now have two docs listed in your folder—one with a DOCX file extension, and one with an XML extension.
  4. Open a text editor (e.g. Notepad, EditPlus etc.).
  5. Open the XML document you created in Step 2. Don’t panic when you see all the code!
  6. Place your cursor at the beginning of the file.
  7. Search (Ctrl+F in most cases) for your watermark word(s) surrounded by double quote marks and prefaced by string=. For example: string=”draft” or string=”confidential”.
  8. Delete the watermark word(s) inside the quote marks. There’s no need to delete anything else. You’ll end up with string=”” once you’ve deleted the watermark word(s).
  9. Save the XML document, then close the text editor.
  10. Find the XML document in your folder and open it using Word (NOT a text editor). The watermark should be gone. However, the document is still an XML file.
  11. Save the document as a DOCX file using File > Save As.
  12. Open the DOCX document—the watermark should be gone.