What Are Watermarks and When Should You Use Them?

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Written By Charlotte Miller

Painters sign their artwork with their signature, initials, or pseudonyms. Publications would print stamps on the back of images to credit the source. Government documents were stamped with embossing seals, leaving raised marks on the print. 

But, how do digital creators sign their work? Watermark. 

Watermarking is the process of adding a logo or text atop a file and is necessary for copyright protection and promoting digital works. While it is mostly done digitally these days, the term watermarking dates back centuries. In the past, a watermark was only visible when held up to the light or when it was wet, hence its name. Fast forward to the present, a watermark refers to a faded image added to include a business logo or merely for artistic flair. 

Why You Should Watermark Your Digital Works 

There are a few key reasons why you may have to watermark a document or image. For example, watermarking helps you protect the copyright of your work and make sure that it cannot be reused or altered without your knowledge. 

  • As a creative professional, watermarking allows your clients to preview your work, without the risk of them stealing it. 
  • It can also be used as a branding strategy, putting your name and brand out there every time your works are shared online. 
  • In other cases, it may also indicate the status of a document, with terms like ‘COPY’ or ‘SAMPLE ONLY’. 

Overall, watermarking keep your intellectual property from being mishandled, while ensuring that you retain ownership of your works, from draft to the final output. The good news? There are online PDF editing tools that allow you to add watermarks to your files with the Add Watermark to PDF Tool. 

How to Make and Add Watermarks to Your Files 

What your watermark will look like is mostly up to you. You may even use different watermarks to serve different purposes—it could be a  logo, text, or an image, and can be as prominent or faded on a document as you would like. What matters is that your watermark features copyright information, an identifier (e.g. brand logo or your name), or status information like ‘FOR REVIEW’, ‘VOID’, or ‘DRAFT’. 

An exception, however, is when you’re watermarking photos, videos, or files that you’re planning to sell online. You would want a translucent watermark that occupies the entire frame. Keep it small and tucked in one corner and others could easily crop it off the frame and profit off your work. The key here is to add a watermark where it can’t be easily edited out. You would see this on many stock photos where the watermark is overlaid directly on the subject. 

On a PDF editor, you can easily watermark a PDF file and it’s completely customizable in terms of size, position, rotation, and opacity. You can save your watermarked documents as copies and keep the original file in case you need it. 

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Add Watermarks to Your PDF with PDFBear 

PDFBear is an online tool that lets you add watermarks to your PDF documents. It only takes four steps to do so: 

  1. Upload the PDF file you wish to add a watermark to. 
  2. Type the text or select an image you would want to use as a watermark. 
  3. Position the watermark; and 
  4. Save the changes and your watermarked PDF file will be instantly ready for download. 

When adding watermarks to your documents, make sure that they are adequately protected so that another user can’t easily remove the watermark. This is particularly the case with watermarked PDF documents as PDF editing tools enable you to remove watermarks. 

You can protect your document by encrypting it with a password. This will require a password every time a user will access the PDF. Another way to protect your PDF is to modify it using a secure PDF editor. PDFBear, for example, lets you modify your PDF with a watermark and protect it with 256-bit encryption technology. In addition to a watermark function, PDFBear also offers other tools that allow you to edit, convert, merge, or add an e-signature to your PDF. 

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When done properly, watermarking your photos is a great way to protect your intellectual property and build your brand at the same time. Your audience will start to associate your watermark with you and easily recognize your works every time they are uploaded and shared online. 

While no technique provides a 100% guarantee that your intellectual property will not be compromised online, a watermark adds a layer of protection that will ensure your works are not misused. The best way to be credited for your works is to establish a good relationship with your clients and make their experience as positive as possible. This way, even if you don’t watermark your work, your clients would share your work and recommend you to their friends. 

What are your thoughts about watermarking your intellectual property? Let us know by leaving a comment below.