Is there a way to have a two-line page background watermark in Microsoft Word without using Word Art?

  • What do you mean "without using Word Art"? Aren't all text watermarks stored as Word Art? – Catchwa Aug 10 '10 at 4:29
  • Word Art can be copy & pasted into Paint and then saved as an image, which can then be imported into Word as a background watermark. I'd like to avoid this, as it looks amateurish. – Jim Fell Aug 11 '10 at 15:33

While you do need to use the "Word Art" mode to insert line breaks into a watermark, this workaround does not have any real limitations. It's non-intuitive but it works fine.

From Microsoft MVP Stefan Blom

  • Insert watermark using Insert Watermark...
  • Enter some text and click Ok. (You can edit the text later steps.)
  • Double-click on the header area.
  • Right-click on the watermark text (when your cursor becomes four arrowed one), select Edit Word Art from the context menu.
  • In this mode you can add line breaks, change fonts, etc.
  • Click Close in a header/footer to close.
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There is no way to have a two-line page background watermark in Microsoft Word without using Word Art.

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I believe that Stefan Blom's answer is generally correct, but his menu pick descriptions don't match well with what I see on Word 2013 under Windows 7.

I believe this procedure will be a little easier for others to follow on Word 2013, and adds quite a few useful explanations:

  • Design → Watermark → Custom Watermark
  • Type text as desired.
    This dialog is very basic; typing elsewhere and pasting in (making sure you have the correct font selected; font changes within an object appear to be not allowed) appears the only way to get special characters into this field.
  • Set font, fontsize, color, and desired transparency.
    (The default 'rubber stamp' watermark is automatic color and transparent.)
  • Edit the header by Insert → Header or double-clicking in the header.
    The insertion point needs to be in header (the object's anchor will land where the IP is) and header-footer editing needs to be active in order to continue in this process.
    Word stores watermarks as WordArt objects anchored to the header (and you can manually place them in the footer as well).
  • Double-click the watermark image to bring up the WordArt ribbon.
  • Toggle Vertical Text as desired.
    The effect is true vertical text, not horizontal text rotated 90°.
  • Edit Text to change text as desired and to insert or remove spaces to adjust height of the vertical text.
    (A space isn't worth much vertical distance; you might not see the effect of adding a single space. I needed 110 spaces using Wingdings 3 at 16pt to span body + footer on Letter.)
  • The Word Art process seems to slightly magnify and possibly distort the characters.
    If you have a sample of characters at the desired fontsize in body text, at 400+% View magnification, it is easy (but tedious, as adding or deleting spaces in text triggers automatic re-scaling) to play with object scaling to make the watermark object's glyphs match the sample character.
    (Yes, I know Word is not a typesetter, but I've been getting decent and repeatable results, and I don't get a choice of tools at work.)
  • Copy, cut, paste, move, rotate, scale, etc. the object as needed - it seems to be just another anchored object.
    I haven't experimented, but there is a yellow label hotpoint associated with the object - it appears you could apply a label to it.

Related tips:

  • The automated watermark tool apparently uses the same process to create a WordArt object; you can apply the same techniques to an object created by the watermark tool.
    Only MS knows why they didn't make vertical text a radio button on this tool's dialog.
  • If another WordArt object is already anchored to the header, my experience is that the automated watermark tool will delete that object and fail to create a new object.
    This unpleasant surprise is recoverable with Undo.
  • You can anchor watermark objects manually in either the header or the footer.
    The easiest way to move the anchor is to select the watermark object, cut it, move the insertion point to the opposite header-footer location, and paste (Cntl-V rather than right-clicking, which brings up unhelpful formatting options).
    I have had no problems with two watermark objects co-existing peacefully both anchored to the header; a pre-existing watermark object breaks only the tool's automation script and not the ability to display two watermark objects. (My required format has an elaborate table in the footer; I wanted to add as little additional complexity as possible into the footer.)

  • I have not discovered how to make a two-line watermark (I don't need one for my purposes). But given that watermarks are actually objects anchored to the header or footer and multiples seem to co-exist, I don't see why you couldn't create multiple objects and do what you like with them, including grouping them.
    I suspect extra spaces might offer a simple cheat opportunity to force word wrap to make a decent approximation of a two-line watermark. You'd have to watch for re-wrapping.

Big thanks to Stefan; his post sparked me to figure out what worked for me.

Why have I totally geeked out (obsessed?) on this?
Engineers in general, the American National Standards Institute (sets recommended engineering drafting standards in the U.S.), and my Fortune-50 employer in particular have all adapted to 1980s technology very poorly for producing formal engineering documents, even though it's now the 2010s. We go to a lot a trouble to reproduce document features that go back to Rapidograph pens, ChartPak lettering, and diazo printing machines (look 'em up, kids; they're in Wikipedia). Not only do these document artifacts contribute nothing, they often are very hard to produce using general-purpose software (which is one reason engineering software is so crazy overpriced - they can demand a princely price for doing silly stuff no other market cares about).
The useless features I am reproducing are inward-facing arrows centered on all four sides of the pages of an otherwise-unexceptional (fancy footer with document information table excepted) document on Letter paper. The purpose of the these silly targeting arrows (and the associated outline box, which is easy with Page Borders) is to make things easy for the camera operator making archival microfilms. Never mind that we haven't archived to film in twenty-plus years, our configuration control system supposedly keeps the source Word doc forever, and our corporate engineering library definitely keeps a PDF forever ...
I have to do this often enough that getting a proper template sorted pays. On good days, I might even share it with colleagues whom I like.
I just wish my document checkers would believe me when I tell them that Jimmy Carter is no longer in office ...

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