Add Watermark to Excel: Simple Techniques for Protecting Your Data

Table of Contents

Add Watermark to Excel: A Step-by-Step Guide

Watermarks are a common method of marking a document to indicate its status or to protect sensitive information. When it comes to Microsoft Excel, adding a watermark typically involves a bit more work compared to word processing software. I’m Tracy, and I’ll walk you through the process of adding a watermark to your Excel spreadsheets with precision and ease.

Why Add a Watermark to an Excel Spreadsheet?

Watermarks can serve various purposes, from indicating that a document is a draft or confidential to simply branding a spreadsheet with a company logo. While Excel does not feature a direct ‘Insert Watermark’ option like Microsoft Word, there are workarounds that we can use to achieve a similar effect.

Inserting a Watermark in Excel Using Header & Footer

One of the easiest ways to add a watermark in Excel is by inserting an image into the header or footer. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Open your Excel spreadsheet in which you want to add a watermark.
  2. Go to the ‘Insert’ tab.
  3. Click on ‘Header & Footer’ in the ‘Text’ group. This will switch you to Page Layout view.
  4. Click inside the header or footer area where you want to insert the watermark.
  5. In the Header & Footer Tools ‘Design’ tab that appears, click on ‘Picture’ in the ‘Header & Footer Elements’ group.
  6. Insert the image you want to use as a watermark. You can choose from your local computer, online images or icons provided by Excel.
  7. Once inserted, the text ‘&[Picture]’ will appear. This indicates where your image will be placed.
  8. Exit the header or footer view by clicking outside of the header/footer box.

Remember that the watermark added in this way will only appear in the page layout view or when the document is printed.

Creating a Custom Watermark in Excel

To create a more traditional watermark across the entire sheet, you will need to use the WordArt or a text box. Here’s the step-by-step guide:

  1. Go to the ‘Insert’ tab.
  2. Click on ‘Text Box’ or ‘WordArt’ and draw the text box on your spreadsheet.
  3. Type the text you want to use as a watermark.
  4. Format the text to be light in color and adjust the transparency to be less obtrusive if desired.
  5. Rotate the text box if you want your watermark on an angle, typical for a watermark.
  6. Send the text box to the back by right-clicking on it, selecting ‘Send to Back’ > ‘Send Behind Text’.

Reflecting on User Needs: Adding Watermarks in Excel

As a tech expert who has dealt with a range of spreadsheet queries, the methods outlined above should address the majority of needs when it comes to adding watermarks in Excel. However, it’s important to understand that these workarounds might not be perfect—for example, WordArt and text boxes won’t appear on every page automatically like a header or footer image would.


Let’s address some common questions you might have about adding watermarks to Excel spreadsheets:

Can I use a custom image as a watermark in Excel?

Yes, you can insert a custom image as a watermark by using the Header & Footer method or by inserting the image directly and adjusting its transparency.

Will the watermark appear on every page of my spreadsheet?

If you insert the watermark in the header or footer, it will appear on every page that is printed. Otherwise, you will need to copy and paste the watermark or text box to every page.

Can I make the watermark appear on top of my data?

Excel watermarks are typically placed behind the data. However, you can create a watermark effect on top of your data by adjusting layering options, but this could affect the readability of your information.


While adding a watermark to Excel requires a different approach than other Microsoft Office applications, with a few simple steps, you can provide your documents with the necessary branding or status indicator. Remember, watermarks should be subtle and not distract from the content of the spreadsheet itself.