Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016. If you are using an earlier version (Excel 2003 or earlier), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for earlier versions of Excel, click here: Inserting a Watermark Behind Merged Cells.

Inserting a Watermark Behind Merged Cells

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated March 19, 2016)

1

Tony asked if it was possible to insert a "watermark" type of permanent comment into a group of merged cells. The idea is for the comment to stay behind any entered text.

The short answer is that there is no way of doing this. Excel allows you to use a graphic as a background, but only for the worksheet as a whole, not for a range of cells. Even then, the background won't print—which is why Excel calls it a "background" and not a "watermark." (True watermarks are on physical paper, not on-screen.)

One possible solution—if you want your "comment" to be text instead of a graphic—is to use a text box. Create a text box that is the same size as your merged cells, and position it over those cells. Then, add your comment to the text box, as desired. Format the text box so the font is a light gray, the text box has no border, and the background is transparent.

The background being transparent is important, since you cannot position the text box "behind" the worksheet. The text box is on the drawing layer, which is always over the worksheet. You can arrange objects on the drawing layer, but you cannot move the drawing layer itself.

Now, if people use the Tab key to move into the merged cells, they can type things and it will appear in the cells. You may have to play with colors and appearance, because the gray text in the text box doesn't go away when you enter text in the underlying cells.

You should know that if someone uses the mouse to click on the merged cells, they will, instead, select the text box. You can get around this by selecting the merged cells, making sure they aren't protected, and then protecting the worksheet as a whole. By default, text boxes are protected, so they can't be selected in a protected worksheet. Now, when someone clicks on the merged cell, it is the cell that is selected, not the text box—it cannot be selected in a protected worksheet.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (11986) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Excel here: Inserting a Watermark Behind Merged Cells.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He  is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Shortening ZIP Codes

US ZIP Codes can be of two varieties: five-digits or nine-digits. Here's how to convert longer ZIP Codes to the shorter ...

Discover More

Removing a Macro from a Shortcut Key

Associate a macro with a shortcut key, and at some time you may want to break that association. (Perhaps so the shortcut key ...

Discover More

Finding Positions of Formatted Characters in a Cell

With a little bit of work, Excel allows you to format individual characters of the text you place in a cell. If you want to ...

Discover More

Solve Real Business Problems Master business modeling and analysis techniques with Excel and transform data into bottom-line results. This hands-on, scenario-focused guide shows you how to use the latest Excel tools to integrate data from multiple tables. Check out Microsoft Excel 2013 Data Analysis and Business Modeling today!

More ExcelTips (ribbon)

Creating Venn Diagrams with Excel Data

A common way of representing data is to use a Venn diagram. Unfortunately, Excel doesn't have a precise way of creating Venn ...

Discover More

Nudging a Graphic

Want to get a graphic to just the right position on a worksheet? Sometimes the easiest way is to use the arrow keys on the ...

Discover More

Pasting a Graphic to Multiple Worksheets

Do you need to add a logo or other graphic to a bunch of worksheets? Here are a couple of short macros that can make quick ...

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.

Comments

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is 6 - 0?

2016-03-21 11:00:40

Rick

Why not simply use a data validation input message (with any value)?


This Site

Got a version of Excel that uses the ribbon interface (Excel 2007 or later)? This site is for you! If you use an earlier version of Excel, visit our ExcelTips site focusing on the menu interface.

Newest Tips
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.