Add or remove a sheet background

You can use a picture as a sheet background, but Excel won't print the background, and it won't be retained in individual worksheets or in items you save as a Web page.

Important: Because sheet backgrounds aren't printed, you can't use them as watermarks, but you can mimic a printable watermark by inserting a graphic in a header or footer, and we explain how later in this article.

Add a sheet background

  1. Click the worksheet to which you want to add a background. You can only select one worksheet.

  2. Click Page Layout > Background.

    Page Setup group on the Page Layout tab

  3. Select the picture you want to use for the sheet background and click Insert.

    The selected picture is repeated to fill the sheet.

Notes: 

  • To improve readability, you can hide cell gridlines and apply solid color shading to cells that contain data.

  • A sheet background is saved with the worksheet data when you save the workbook.

Tip: To use a solid color as a sheet background, you can apply cell shading to all cells in the worksheet.

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Remove a sheet background

  1. Click the worksheet that is displayed with a sheet background. Make sure that only one worksheet is selected.

  2. Click Page Layout > Delete Background.

    Delete Background in the Page Setup group

    Note: Delete Background is available only when a worksheet has a sheet background.

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What else do you want to do?

Mimic a watermark in Excel

Use a picture in a header or footer to mimic a watermark

Use WordArt to mimic a watermark

Mimic a watermark in Excel

Watermarks aren't a part of Excel, but you can mimic a watermark in two ways.

  • Insert a picture in the header or footer. This displays your watermark on every printed page, behind the worksheet data. You can also resize or scale the picture to fill the whole page.

  • Use WordArt on top of the worksheet data.

Use a picture in a header or footer to mimic a watermark

  1. In a drawing program, such as Paintbrush, create a picture.

  2. In Excel, click the worksheet to which you want to add the watermark.

    Note: Make sure only one worksheet is selected.

  3. Click Insert > Header & Footer.

  4. Click the words Click to add header,and then click the left, center, or right header selection box.

  5. On the Design contextual tab (the tab that appeared when you performed step 4) in the Header & Footer Elements group, click Picture Button image and then find the picture that you want to insert.

    Header and footer elements group on the Design tab of the Header and footer tools

  6. Double-click the picture. &[Picture] appears in the header selection box.

  7. Click in the worksheet. The picture you selected will appear in place of &[Picture].

  8. To resize or scale the picture, click the header selection box that contains the picture, click Format Picture, and in the Format Picture dialog box, select the options you want on the Size tab.

  • Changes to the picture or picture format take effect immediately and cannot be undone.

  • To add blank space above or below a picture, in the header selection box that contains the picture, click before or after &[Picture], and then press Enter to start a new line.

  • To replace a picture in the header section box that contains the picture, select &[Picture], click Picture Button image , and then click Replace.

  • Before printing, make sure that the header or footer margin has sufficient space for the custom header or footer.

  • To delete a picture in the header section box that contains the picture, select &[Picture], press Delete, and then click in the worksheet.

  • To switch from Page Layout view to Normal view, select any cell, click the View tab, and then, in the Workbook Views group, click Normal.

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Use WordArt to mimic a watermark

  1. Click the worksheet location where you want to display the watermark.

  2. On the Insert tab, in the Text group, click WordArt.

    Text group on the Insert tab

  3. Click the WordArt style that you want to use, such as Fill - White, Drop Shadow, Fill - Text 1, Inner Shadow, or Fill - White, Warm Matte Bevel.

  4. Type the text that you want to use for the watermark.

  5. To change the size of the WordArt, do the following:

    1. Click the WordArt.

    2. On the Format tab, in the Size group (all the way over to the right), in the Shape Height and Shape Width boxes, enter the sizes that you want. Note that this only changes the size of the box that contains the WordArt.

      Tip:  You can also drag the sizing handles on the WordArt to the size that you want..

    3. Select the text inside the WordArt, and then on the Home tab, in the Font group, select the size you want in the Font Size box.

      Font group on the Home tab

  6. To add transparency so that you can see more of the worksheet data underneath the WordArt, do the following:

    1. Right-click the WordArt, and click Format Shape.

    2. In the Fill category, under Fill, click Solid fill.

    3. Drag the Transparency slider to the percentage of transparency that you want, or enter the percentage in the Transparency box.

  7. If you want to rotate the WordArt, do the following:

    1. Click the WordArt.

    2. Click Format > Rotate.

    3. Click More Rotation Options.

    4. Click Size, and under Size and rotate, in the Rotation box, enter the degree of rotation that you want.

    5. Click Close.

      Tip: You can also drag the rotation handle in the direction that you want to rotate the WordArt.

Note: You can't use WordArt in a header or footer to display it in the background. However, if you create the WordArt in an empty worksheet that does not display gridlines (clear the Gridlines check box in the on the View tab), you can press Print Screen to capture the WordArt, paste the captured WordArt into a drawing program, and insert the resulting picture into a header and footer as described in Use a picture in a header or footer to mimic a watermark above.

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