Watermark Not Showing Up in Word? [How to Fix It]

Watermarks can be a great addition to your Word documents, especially if you need to label the status or purpose of your file. While a watermark in Word is useful, there may be times when it doesn’t show up.

Word enthusiasts can customize their documents by using watermarks. If you are experiencing issues with having watermarks show up in Word, read on below to see the fixes you can try.

How to Fix Watermark Not Showing Up in Word

Uncheck Show Picture Placeholders

When you’re using watermarks in Word, you may notice that they suddenly disappear. Usually, restarting the software should help restore the watermarks, but if the problem persists there is something else you can check.

Access the full range of Word settings by clicking on File, followed by Options then Advanced. Scroll to the ‘show document content’. When you’re there, you’ll see a ‘show picture placeholders’ option. Make sure that this setting is unchecked.

This should immediately allow you to see your watermarks again. If it doesn’t, restart the software and check on the state of your watermarks. This should be one of the first checks you do when your watermark isn’t showing up in Word.

The ‘show picture placeholders’ option can interfere with all types of pictures and objects used in the document. It can sometimes automatically revert to being enabled, especially after a software update.

Adjust the Washout

The washout effect may cause a watermark to not show up when used in Word. This effect is a useful way of adjusting the desired transparency of a watermark to make it less distracting without taking away from its importance.

You may experience a problem with washout causing a watermark to not show up. If you notice that your watermark is no longer visible in Word, check your washout. To do so, there are several options depending on the type of watermark used.

For a Picture Watermark

When you’re using a picture watermark, these are the steps to follow when adjusting washout:

  1. Double click at the top of the page. This will open the header options.
  2. Place your cursor over the watermark. Hover until a four-headed arrow appears.
  3. Select your watermark by clicking on it.
  4. Click on Picture Tools, then on Format.
  5. Adjust the levels on Contrast, Brightness, and Recolor until your watermark shows up as intended.

For a Text Watermark

If you are using a text watermark instead, the process will vary slightly. Open the header and hover over the watermark as before, but select WordArt Tools, followed by Format. Then click on Shape Fill and experiment with lighter or darker washout shades.

You can also opt for tinkering with the transparency levels under More Fill Colors. Do this until your watermark shows up exactly as you want it.

Check Text Boxes

In a Word document, you may sometimes use text boxes to insert content. These may cause your watermark to be hidden behind the text. To avoid this problem, you should do various checks when using a text box.

Make sure to set the text box to ‘no fill’ whenever you want to use it and a watermark in the same document. If the text box is set to fill, it can easily cover the watermark and make it suddenly not show up in Word.

A text box can easily make your watermark not show up, but you don’t have to give up this handy tool. Ensuring that the text box doesn’t get in the way of your watermark will allow you to have access to both features.

Check Text Shading

You may not use a text box but still notice that the watermark is not showing up in Word. If that happens to you, make sure to also check the shading options of the main text in your document.

Using text shading in your formatting can get in the way of your watermark. This can become apparent if the watermark suddenly stops showing up after adding text to your document.

To avoid this problem, check both the character and paragraph shading options. You will find these by selecting the text in your document, then going to the home tab at the top of the document.

Select either the character or the paragraph icons, then select the arrow next to shading. You should either change the color of the shading or completely eliminate it to avoid interference with the watermark.

White shading in particular may appear invisible in the document but will cover a watermark either fully or in part. Checking the shading can solve many problems with your watermark not showing up in Word.

Check Tables

Adding tables to your Word documents can be a great way to convey information while keeping it well organized and visually attractive. While you can use tables even on watermarked documents, it may cause partial or full obstruction of the design.

If your watermark is not showing up in Word, make sure to check the tables in your document. Try removing some cells or rows in the table to see if the watermark becomes more or less visible.

To do this, you should select a specific row, cell, or entire table. Go to the Layout tab in the top ribbon and select the Delete option. You will then be able to delete one of those three options.

Your watermark should show up again, and you can tinker with the tablet and the watermark transparency until you are satisfied with the result.

Use the Insert a Watermark Option

In Word, watermarks function like headers. If you add a new watermark, it will automatically replace any previous ones, which may cause it to not show up. To get the best results, when you insert your watermark you should make sure all the headers are linked.

This will help with making your watermark show up on every page of the document. If it doesn’t, you can copy and paste it in every header. This is the more time consuming option, so it’s always a good idea to go to Design, then Watermark.


There are various reasons why a watermark may not show up in Word. If this occurs, you should check your watermark and document settings. From text boxes to washout, there are several things to try to get your watermark back.