Removing a Watermark

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated February 25, 2023)
This tip applies to Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Word in Microsoft 365, and 2021


Heather just started working with a new company and inherited a lot of older documents. One document has a "Draft" watermark that shows up when it is printed, diagonally across the page. Heather wonders how she can remove the watermark from the document.

There are a couple of different ways that watermarks can be placed in documents. Given Heather's description of what she is seeing, her watermark is probably being added using the built-in watermark feature of Word. To remove the watermark, follow these steps:

  1. Display the Design tab of the ribbon.
  2. In the Page Background group (right side of the ribbon) click the Watermark tool. Word displays a gallery of options.
  3. Click the Remove Watermark option, near the bottom of the gallery.

Your watermark should be gone. If it is not, then chances are good that the watermark was added using a graphic that is anchored in the header or footer of your document. Follow these general steps:

  1. If not done already, make sure that you have non-printing characters displayed in your document. On the Home tab of the ribbon, click on the Show/Hide tool.
  2. Double-click in the header area of the page. Word should place the insertion point within the header and automatically display the Header & Footer tab of the ribbon.
  3. Move the mouse pointer over the top of the watermark. If it turns into a four-headed arrow, then you know that the watermark is a graphic that is part of your header and footer.
  4. Click once on the graphic. It is selected.
  5. Press the Delete key. The graphic (watermark) should be gone.
  6. One the Header & Footer tab of the ribbon, click the Close Header and Footer button.

Understand that if your watermark is of this type—a graphic inserted in the header or footer—then it is possible that it is different for each section of your document. If that is the case, you'll need to repeat the above steps for each section in your document.

Finally, if the watermark shows up on brand new documents, then the watermark or the graphic is part of the Normal template. You may need to open the Normal template directly. (You'll want to locate the Normal.dotx or Normal.dotm templates, using Windows, and then directly open them in Word.) Make the watermark changes in those templates (using the steps described earlier), save them, and then any new documents you create won't have the watermark in them by default.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (10667) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Word in Microsoft 365, and 2021.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...


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What is 1 + 1?

2023-02-25 17:11:13

Michael Kelly

Re. Removing a watermark. I don’t have the problem, but enjoyed learning about the process.


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