How to Put a Watermark on a Scanned Document

By Shea Laverty

Some scanners output documents as image files like JPEG, while others create document files like PDF.
i Hemera Technologies/ Images

Adding a watermark to your personal or corporate scanned documents can be accomplished in several ways. In all cases, these methods require additional software -- most of which come with a purchase fee. Depending on the file format to which your scanner outputs documents, you'll need a specific watermarking program, desktop publishing program or an image editor.

Microsoft Publisher

Microsoft Publisher is a desktop publishing program sold as part of the Microsoft Office productivity suite. As a full-featured desktop publisher, Microsoft Publisher enables you to add watermarks to your documents. Watermarks can be added in two ways -- a text only watermark, or by adding an image to the document and changing the transparency in the image format menu. Both methods can be used to add watermarks to most document formats, including DOC and PDF.

Adobe Acrobat

Adobe Acrobat is another desktop publishing program, specifically designed for use with the PDF format originally developed by Adobe. Acrobat enables you to add both text and image watermarks and adjust the size, transparency and other formatting options. Unlike Microsoft Publisher, Acrobat is available as a stand-alone product from Adobe, and is intended only for the creation and manipulation of PDF formats.

Watermarking Software

While Microsoft Publisher and Adobe Acrobat are some of the top-tier desktop publishing programs for personal and professional use, other programs can be used to add watermarks to documents. A-PDF Watermark is a tool designed for watermarking PDF documents. The sole purpose of this program is to add watermarks to PDF documents, both text and image. PDF Watermark Creator is also a program designed exclusively for adding watermarks to PDF documents -- however, it supports only text watermarks. While A-PDF Watermark requires a purchase, PDF Watermark Creator offers a freeware version, making it one of the few free watermarking programs.

Image Editing Software

If your scanner saves scanned images in an image document format instead of a PDF or other document format, you can also create watermarks using layer-based image editing software. Programs like Adobe Photoshop, Corel Paint Shop Pro and free software like GIMP or Paint.NET all support layer management during editing. By adding the desired watermark as a separate layer and then reducing opacity, you can effectively create a watermark on the document. If you need to then convert the image into a format like PDF, there are conversion tools available online to handle the task.