How to Add a Watermark to a PDF (With Definition and Tips)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 26 April 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

A PDF is a file format that enables individuals to share files without interfering with their original appearance or format. PDFs have several options for customisation, with one being adding a watermark. It's important to know how to add a watermark to a PDF if you want to make documents harder to copy. In this article, we explore what a watermark is, explain why you may use a watermark, describe the steps to take when adding a watermark and share tips to consider when doing so.

What is a watermark?

A watermark is an image of text or logo that has an identifying pattern related to the person or company who created the document. Watermarks help with copyright protection and marketing of digital documents, images and other online tools. Watermarks are often semi-transparent so that it doesn't interfere with the document's content and are most commonly seen in confidential communications and branded documents.

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How to add a watermark to a PDF

If you're interested in how to add a watermark to a PDF, there are a variety of tools and methods that you can utilise. Following these steps can help you add a watermark to your PDF documents successfully:

1. Use a program that allows you to add watermarks

There are several programs available that allow you to add watermarks to PDFs. One of the most popular programs is Adobe Photoshop. Adobe has a built-in watermark feature that allows you to add a watermark to a PDF that you're editing.

2. Pull up the PDF

If you've recently worked on a PDF, you can go to the upper left-hand corner of the screen and select "Home." Then, click on "Recent View" to choose the PDF you wish to work on. If you want to import a PDF document into Photoshop, select "File" then "Open" and choose your PDF from the dialogue box.

3. Use the watermark function

You can use Photoshop's built-in "Watermark" function, especially if you've already created an image you want to use. The first step is to go to the "Tools" tab and select "Edit PDF." Then, navigate to the "Document" menu and select "Watermark" followed by "Add." If your watermark is text, select "Text" and insert the text you want as your watermark in the document. If you want to use an image you've already created, click on "File" then "Browse" and select the image you want to use.

4. Use text function

You can also create a watermark through Photoshop's standard "Text" function. In Photoshop, select the "Text" option from the dialogue box and then click on the circle that's to the left of it. You can then type the text you want to use as your watermark in the text box. You can adjust various formatting settings for the watermark text, such as size, colour and font.

5. Add a watermark to specific pages

Photoshop also allows you to add a watermark only on certain pages. For example, you may have copyrighted content only on a specific page in a presentation. To add a watermark to specific pages, click on "Page Options" and then specify the page range and select the "Subset" option before completing the process. If you used the "Text" function to add a watermark, you can just copy and paste it on the pages that need it.

6. Choose the orientation of your watermark

To decide on the orientation of your watermark, choose "Rotation," which is found in the middle of the "Watermark" dialogue box. You can choose "None" or you can rotate the watermark to a custom rotation by typing in the degree of rotation in the box next to "Custom." If you used the "Text" function, you can also alter its rotation. Select the text box and hover the mouse cursor over one of the four corners until two rotation arrows appear, which you can then click on and drag in the direction you want to rotate the text.

7. Edit watermark text

If you want to revise the font or size of the text in your watermark, you can go to the "Font" and "Size" tabs found under the text box. Click on the drop-down arrows and choose a font size and font from the menus provided. You can try different fonts and sizes until you find one that suits your preferences.

8. Choose the size of the watermark

Once you've inserted the watermark onto the PDF, you may want to change its size. To do so, enter a specific percentage in the "Absolute Scale" located in the "Source" area of the "Watermark" dialogue box. If you want to resize it according to a PDF page's dimensions, put in a percentage in the "Scale Relative to Target Page" section.

9. Choose when you want your watermark to appear

Navigate to the "Show When Printing" and "Show When Displaying on Screen" option. You can deselect or select pages on which you want the watermark to appear. If there are variations in the formatting of the pages in your PDF, select or deselect "Keep Position And Size Of Watermark Text Constant When Printing On Different Pages."

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10. Remove a watermark

There may be situations when you want to remove a watermark from a PDF. If you want to remove a watermark in Photoshop, select "Tools", "Watermark" and then "Remove." This process removes all watermarks on a single PDF. To remove watermarks from more than one PDF, close all open PDFs without closing Photoshop and select "Tools," Edit PDF," "Watermark," and then "Remove."

Why is a watermark used?

There are several reasons why a company may use a watermark on a PDF. Some of these reasons include:


Watermarks are often used to protect a company's work to make sure individuals don't change or reuse it without a company's explicit permission. Companies can use watermarks to allow people to view a PDF before buying it without worrying about them reusing the document. This allows companies to more easily advertise their work without it being copied. This is common for companies that publish research reports that professionals may use as reference.


Companies also use watermarks as a branding tactic, as you can use images as watermarks. Customers may recognise a watermark and immediately associate a company or brand with it. For example, if a company continuously posts photos with a watermark on a social media site, viewers may learn to associate that watermark with that company.

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Businesses can also use watermarks to show the authenticity of their documents. For example, if a PDF is incomplete, a company may place a stamp such as SAMPLE on the document. This helps ensure readers are aware of certain aspects of a document. For example, an architect may use watermarks to indicate which blueprints are drafts to ensure construction workers don't use the wrong plans.

Things to avoid when adding a watermark

There are a few key things to avoid when adding a watermark to a PDF, such as:

  • Making your watermark too large: A large watermark can help ensure readers see it, but it can also be distracting or may skew a document, making it harder to read.

  • Creating a colourful watermark: Using too many colours can draw a viewer's attention away from the content of a document or make it difficult to read.

  • Using too many watermarks: Adding too many watermarks to the document can also make a document's content difficult to read.

  • Putting the watermark in the middle of the document: Placing a watermark in the middle of a document may draw a reader's attention to the middle of a document while they're reading other sections.

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Tips on adding a watermark to a PDF

The following are tips to keep in mind when making and adding a watermark to a PDF:

  • Use a good watermark website: Use a well-known website or application to create a watermark to ensure it looks professional. You can also use these sources to change your watermark later on.

  • Reduce the contrast: Reducing the contrast of a watermark can help it be more visible on a PDF. You can do this by reducing a watermark's opacity or making it darker.

  • Make it discreet: Good watermarks are discreet but clearly visible and don't draw unnecessary attention away from a document's content.

Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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