The following Frequently Asked Questions should provide answers to most questions asked about watermarks.


   Is a watermark only visible in paper that is wet?

     No, the name watermark does not refer to something that is, or needs to be, wet to be seen. The word refers to the fact that the image is produced in the paper while it is initially being formed out of wet pulp stock.

   Can only a special type of paper hold watermarks?

     No, watermarks can be created in any type of paper.

   Is it possible for me to create a watermark in paper on my computer using my digital imaging equipment and software?

     No, even the most sophisticated computers and other electronic equipment available at the present time cannot 'create' a true watermark.

   How can I tell if a watermark is a true watermark?

     The true watermark is created by varying the depth of the paper in certain areas as the paper is being produced; it is not added later. The false watermarks are created by applying an oil-based substance onto the surface of the paper after it has been produced. The false watermark will disappear when the paper is wet (or if heat or chemicals are applied to it), but the true watermark will be able to be seen whether the paper is dry or wet.

   Will a watermark in paper rub off or fade out over time?

     A true watermark is created by varying the thickness of the paper, and has nothing to do with applying an image to the surface of paper, which might be subject to wear and tear. The true watermark will remain in the paper until the paper itself is destroyed.

   Will a watermark interfere with anything I print on the paper?

     No, since the watermark is in the depths of the paper itself, there should be no problem between it and anything printed on the surface of the paper. The watermark is only visible when the paper is held up to the light; when the paper is lying on a flat surface, the watermark will not be seen.

   I've heard the terms: "laid paper" and "wove paper" - What's the difference, and are they watermarks themselves?

     The paper moulds for producing paper by hand, prior to the invention of the paper machine, were constructed by stretching metal wire in a series of parallel lines from one side of the mould to the opposite side. These were called laid wires. They were then linked together by a series of other wires positioned at a right angle to the laid wires. The laid wires were placed rather tightly together, while the linking wires were spaced farther apart. This produced a mesh through which the water, but not the paper pulp, could drain. It also produced a pattern of parallel, intersected lines in the paper. Later on, when wire could be woven into a mesh fabric, it was discovered that paper produced in a mould that utilized the wire mesh fabric did not have the laid wire marks, but rather was more smooth and even. Paper produced in moulds with the woven mesh fabric became known as wove paper. Although not specifically considered as watermarks, the laid and the wove patterns of light and dark give the impression of a watermark. Any type of true watermark can be created within either laid or wove paper, but it is best to use only a single wire watermark in laid paper due to the competition the laid pattern gives to any watermark design.

   Why should I want paper with a custom watermark?

     Apart from the fact that your own custom watermarked paper will make a positive statement about you and your business, the true watermark is one of, if not the best means of security available today, especially when combined with other security features, such as security thread and iridescent planchettes.

   If my company orders custom watermarked paper from a paper company, will some other business also be able to order the very same watermarked paper?

     No, absolutely not. The name says it all - Custom watermarked paper is made for one single customer.

   If I like a particular watermark that I have found somewhere, like on a business form I received from another company, can I have it reproduced for my own watermarked paper?

     Sorry - It would be ethically wrong to copy someone else's watermark design, and it might be copyrighted by that other business, so an honest watermark paper producing company would not agree to do so. Alternative designs that might be similar, but which would not infringe on any copyrighted designs could be an alternative.

   Can I have my own custom watermark design copyrighted??

     A watermark design may be copyrighted as long as it conforms to U.S. and International Copyright laws.

   What if I don't need the security feature of custom watermarked paper, but still want watermarked paper? Is paper available that contains a watermark, but which is 'generic' rather than custom made for one particular customer?

     Yes. Watermark paper producing companies generally produce numerous types of watermarked paper which are considerred generic in that anyone may purchase and use the same paper. The designs of the watermark in these so-called generic watermarked papers include basic geometric forms.

   Is it possible to have words, such as the name of my company, in the watermark?

     Yes, of course! A watermark can consist of graphic images or words, or a combination of the two. A company logo and name are perfect choices for watermarked paper.

   Will the creation of a watermark design, and then the production of actual paper take a long time?

     It all depends on what you consider a long time. At some watermark producing paper companies, they attempt to provide initial artwork to customers for approval within one to two of receipt of the request. Following approval, it might take another week to produce the plates. Pressing of the brass wire mesh fabric to create the cover for the dandy roll might take a week or two. So, the whole process, until paper can be shipped to you, may take two to three months to complete. That might not seem to be too long to wait for something as special as custom watermark paper.

   What kind of printers can watermarked paper be used in?

     Since the watermark is in the depths of the paper itself, there is no restriction to how the paper can be printed. Depending on what type of paper the watermark is created in, it can be used in home computer laser or inkjet printers or offset printed at a commercial printing company. Depending on the type of paper it is, the watermarked paper can be used in photocopiers and digital copiers.

   Looking at paper from different companies, I've seen watermarks that look very sharp and distinct, and then I've seen other watermarks that seem blurry. Why are some good and others not?

     The quality of the watermark is dependent on the quality of the paper. In particular, the thing that papermakers call the 'formation' of the sheet is the biggest factor in being able to produce sharp, distinct watermark images in the paper.