Watermarks with text on PowerPoint Handouts

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There’s no direct ‘watermark’ option for PowerPoint Handouts which is a shame because it would be very useful to add ‘Confidential’, ‘Draft’, ‘Private’ or other very obvious notices.

You can fake it with a little PowerPoint trickery.

Add a Watermark Picture

In short, make an image with the watermark text.  The image can have text, a company logo or anything you like.

Then add that image as a background picture in the Handout or Notes Master.  There are some Format Background tricks to position and format your watermark.

Make a Watermark Picture

Create the watermark in either Word or PowerPoint.

  1. Insert a Text Box
  2. Enter the text into the box
  3. Enlarge, format the text.
    • Most likely change the text color to a light gray. There is a way to ‘dim’ or lighten the watermark image later (Transparency setting).
  4. Center the text in the Text Box.
  5. Rotate the text box and position.

Possibly make the watermark as a hidden slide in the PowerPoint deck. Then it’s available if the text for formatting needs changing.

Take a screen shot of the slide/document image.  Modern PowerPoint has a screenshot option Insert | Images | Screenshot, use another tool or the screen capture options in Windows or Mac.  See Taking Screenshots in Windows, Mac and more.

However you do it, end up with an image with the Watermark text on a white background.

Either save the image as a separate file or paste into the clipboard.

Add Background to Handout or Notes Master

Now switch to the PowerPoint Handout Master or Notes Master on the View tab.

Choose Background | Background Styles | Format Background.

Then select ‘Picture or Texture Fill’ and a Picture Source.

The source can be either a saved image file to Insert or direct from the Clipboard.

Positioning the Watermark image

It’s likely the inserted background image won’t be positioned well.  Whatever defaults Microsoft has, they don’t make much sense, as you can see here.

Fix that by changing the Offsets back to Zero, or whatever value you like.


Adding transparency can make the watermark less visible, less obtrusive.

If you think the watermark image is showing too much, increase the Transparency value, see image above.

Tile Picture as Texture

Another useful watermark option is Tile Picture as Texture.  That will repeat the image/watermark across and down the page.

Alignment: Center, as shown above, puts the image in the middle of the page.

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