Ask Jackie: How Do I Add a Watermark to Excel?

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This question came up in a recent customized Excel training course:

How do I add a watermark in Excel? My logo is in the header section of my workbook, but I want it to be in the middle of the page and show up in grayscale instead of full color.


Excel 2010 doesn’t have a watermark option. Some of the companies I’ve worked with have purchased a print driver that enables them to bypass this restriction. In the meantime, there is a way to work around this restriction.

Step 1 – Create the Logo

Create the logo, and make sure it is sized to the dimensions you need. Some people want their logo to cover the entire background, while some just want it to show up in th emiddle of the page.

Step 2 – Edit the Worksheet’s Header

Open your existing workbook, or create a new one.

Switch to header or footer view by clicking the Insert tab and selecting Header & Footer in the Text group.

Hit the Tab key on your keyboard to switch to the middle header section.

Step 3 – Insert a Picture Into the Header

On the Design tab, click Picture to insert the logo.

Excel 2010 header design

A dialog box opens to show the pictures on your hard drive. Browse until you find the picture. Double-click it or select the picture and click the Insert button to insert it.

Step 4 – Position the Header’s Picture

Hit your Enter key until you get to the point where you’ll be able to insert your picture and have it show up in the middle of your page.


Step 5 – Change the Header Picture’s Color to Washout

To change the picture from full color to washout, click the Format Picture button on the Design tab.

Click the Picture tab.

In the Image control section, click the drop down list next to Color and change it to Washout.

Change header picture to washout

Click OK.

Step 6 – Check your Results

Click anywhere on your Excel worksheet to get out of the Header & Footer view.

Switch to Print Preview (CTRL F2) to see what your watermark will look like when printed.

What do you think?

Can you think of ways to use this? If so, please share your comments.

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About the Author

Jackie Kiadii has 20 years of Excel experience, and teaches the following courses in Excel 2007 and 2010: Certification Prep, Basic through Advanced, Pivot Tables, and Macros/VBA.

Need onsite group training? Call 404.297.6700. Our courses are affordable and customized to your needs. Available for groups of 4 or more students.

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