How to Insert Watermarks in Your Excel Worksheet

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  • 0:01 Watermarks
  • 1:38 Using WordArt
  • 3:03 Adding an Image to the Header
  • 4:30 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Karen Sorensen

Karen has a Bachelors in Communications. She has 25 years of experience in Information Systems, Adult Learning and Virtual Training.

Although Excel does not have a feature to automatically add watermarks, similar to Microsoft Word, there is a way to mimic a watermark on a worksheet. This lesson will demonstrate two ways to add a watermark to an Excel spreadsheet.


A watermark is a faint image or text faded into the background of a document. Watermarks have been around for a very long time. Think of the $100 bill. There are images that can only be seen at a specific angle. These images and imprints are forms of a watermark. Digital photographers add watermarks to pictures and images as a means of security, and to prevent illegal use of their property. Even the background of a document, like a faint logo image, can be considered a watermark.

In our case, using watermarks in Excel is not as spectacular as those used in money or on digital images, but they do play a similar role. The two most common reasons for using a watermark on any document is to signify that the document is a draft or confidential. The watermark is displayed as if it's faded into the document. The watermark can tell the reader that this version is a draft, or it can prevent someone from copying the document and passing it on.

Unfortunately, Excel does not have a true watermark feature, similar to what you might find in Microsoft Word. You won't find a command in Excel to 'add a watermark.' However, there are two easy ways to mimic a watermark: you can use WordArt, or you can add an image to the header. This lesson will demonstrate how to create a watermark in Excel using these two options.

Using WordArt

Using WordArt is probably the easiest way to mimic a watermark in Excel. The only drawback is that the WordArt will be applied to the top of the content. In other words, if you were to create a WordArt text saying 'DRAFT,' the letters would cover any content on the Excel worksheet. This is not a deal-breaker, but it may cause issues if someone is trying to read the spreadsheet. Let's take a look:

  1. Start by clicking on the Insert menu in the ribbon.
  2. And then click on the More icon (it's the upside-down triangle) in the Text command.
  3. Choose WordArt.
  4. And then choose your text style (I usually select the lightest grey).
  5. And then type in your text (in our example, we will use 'DRAFT').
  6. Then, save the WordArt by clicking anywhere on the spreadsheet.

Once you have your WordArt created, you can make the font size bigger and rotate the text to sit at an angle on the page. To view how it will display when printed, go to File and then Print - there you can see a preview of your document. As you can see in our lesson video, the text sits on top of the worksheet and some of the content is hidden by the watermark text.

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