Original Stamp

Effective Watermarking

You’ve got a document that you and your staff have slaved away on for hours, making revisions, edits and numerous versions as back-ups, and now you’re ready to release it to the world. It could be an infographic, a report, a study  – whatever it is, it’s your work and you don’t want other people using it without your permission (especially if you’re intending to charge for it to be downloaded and used publicly).

If the above scenario sounds at all familiar, then you need to make sure you watermark the document so it’s obvious who created it. There should be two versions of your finished document available; one watermarked and one “as is”, so when a wannabe user has paid the fee, you can release the non-watermarked version to them for use, but until then, the watermark should stay.

An effective watermark should have the following attributes:

•    Be clear and prominent – no point in having a watermark if it can’t be seen
•    State the name of your company and/or your logo
•    Be able to do its job but without ruining the quality of the document or image in question – you don’t want to cover too much up so users can’t see what it is they’re buying
•    Placed well – you don’t want it to be the main element of the document
•    If you’re creating it yourself, try to be creative. Something huge and gaudy won’t give your overall image the same credibility as a stylish watermark will
•    Often, it’s better to place the same watermark a couple of times on each page. This is so it’s harder to remove by unscrupulous users, and also adds an extra marketing element for your business name.

Using a faded white copy of your logo or business name is often a good start. If your document is an image, placing this across the body of the image is the best way to make sure it can’t easily be cropped out or covered up. If there is data included in your document, covering an essential statistic or two with your watermark is a good way of stopping the same thing happening – although make sure the data can still be read if you can (you don’t want your viewers to lose interest!)

Watermarking on a PDF

If you’re saving your document as a PDF, you can still add and remove watermarks as you wish, providing you are using a comprehensive PDF editing program. You’ll need to save your watermark as a separate image then add it to the document during editing.


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