QUESTION: What is a watermark?

ANSWER: There are two different meanings for the word "watermark" that are relevant to the printing & publishing industry.

  1. The term "watermark" is used to refer to faintly visible text or graphics that are physically embedded in sheets of paper when the paper is manufactured, or printed on the pages of a paper document, or embedded in the pages of an electronic version of a document

    Physically embedded watermarks are often found in high quality stationery and in security papers (such as papers used to print checks or stock certificates).

    Printed watermarks and visible on-screen watermarks are often used to call attention to the status of a document or to make people aware of the the confidential nature of a document. For example, people sometimes put a watermark that says "DRAFT" on a preliminary version of a document in an effort to ensure that anyone reading the document is aware it is not the final version.

    Here are samples of three watermarked pages:

  2. The term "digital watermark" refers to a pattern of information inserted into a digital image file, digital audio file, or digital video file that identifies the file's copyright information (author, rights, etc.). The purpose of digital watermarks is to provide copyright protection for intellectual property that's in digital format.

    Unlike printed watermarks, which are intended to be visible, digital watermarks are designed to be completely invisible, or in the case of audio files, completely inaudible. Moreover, the information representing the watermark is scattered throughout the file in such a way that it cannot be identified and manipulated.
Our company does not sell software that deals with digital watermarks, but we do sell software that can apply various kinds of visible watermarks to the pages of PDF files. The following links will lead you to such software.

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