Friday, April 3, 2015

Using the watermark feature in MS Word to distinguish your drafts

Maybe most writers already know this, but I stumbled upon something accidentally tonight that is going to help me more easily distinguish which draft of a manuscript I am looking at.

While trying to insert page numbers in a document, I saw that one of the options under the "Insert" pull-down menu is "Watermark..." I realized I might be able to use a watermark to show which draft I am printing or looking at.

Watermark gives you a "Text" option, which is where you can put the date of the draft. It shows up underneath each page and looks like this (I am printing this without the text underneath so you can better see the watermark/date):

The date of the draft shows up as a faint gray color under the text--or if you want to spring for color printing, you could, I suppose, make it a different color.

One of my problems in going back and editing my stuff is that I will find four different versions of something and can't always tell which is the latest, especially after it has been printed. The filename can include the date of the last update of the draft, but that gets lost in the print-out. Another option, of course, is to add the draft date to the header or footer where the page number is.

The key thing is to use the date of the draft vs. calling something "Version 3" or "Draft 4"--especially if you are working on a longer work in pieces (i.e., and some of those things are actually version 3 and some are version 4), or if you are switching between computers.

For advice on how to find where the latest edits go to, and how to name your drafts, revisit Mary Amato's advice in a 2010 Writing Home post: 56 drafts and three little kisses.

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