Printing Watermarks


Q. Some years ago, when I used WordPerfect (my favorite word-processing software), I could print watermarks (light print-overs) with words like DRAFT or CONFIDENTIAL that did not cover up the text beneath. I would like to do the same with the spreadsheets. At work, I prepare multiple spreadsheet “scenarios”—that is, business proposals with different cash flow, sales, expense and profit premises—and when I distribute them I want to be sure the readers know these are drafts—not final statements. I could, of course, write the word “Draft” across the top of the sheet, but it looks more professional when the word is printed. But, I can’t get the watermarks to work in Excel. Even if it looks right in Print Preview, it doesn’t print correctly. Can you help?

A. No wonder you can’t figure it out. For reasons I can’t explain, Microsoft makes it a challenge. Actually, there are two ways to do it.

Your first is to print the watermark the easiest way: outside of Microsoft Excel, through your printer drivers. To get to the printer driver, click on Start, Settings, Printers and then right click on your default printer icon. Browse around that screen and search for the fields Effects or Watermark . If your printer driver doesn’t show those fields (and many older drivers lack them), you’ve got to go to the second option—a slightly more complicated method, which, however, gives you more control over the appearance of the watermark.

On the toolbar, click on View, Toolbars and then on Insert WordArt , which brings up the WordArt Gallery toolbar (see exhibit 1). Click on the far left icon ( Insert WordArt ) and pick any one of the single-color styles. Click OK and then, in the text area, type in your watermark text, adjusting the type size and font (controls are on top of the WordArt Gallery screen).

Exhibit 1

Next, click on the Format WordArt icon, which brings up a screen (see exhibit 2), and under Fill, Color, pick No Fill or, if you have a color printer and you want to print it in color, pick a light shade and then check the Semitransparent box. Now click OK and then, with your mouse, move the type to the location on the spreadsheet where you want it to appear (see exhibit 3).

Exhibit 2
Exhibit 3

If the spreadsheet contains multiple pages, copy (Ctrl C) the watermark and paste (Ctrl V) it in position on each page.

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