Embossing and Debossing Part 1: The Basics

Have you ever received a wedding invitation, a business card, or even stationery where the letters or images really seemed to jump out at you? Where upon closer inspection the letters or images were either raised or imprinted into the design? If so, you probably have come into contact with the printing technique known as either embossing or debossing. 

Embossing or debossing are actually opposites of one another. Embossing creates a raised text or image, while debossing presses the image or text into the paper. For example, if your paper were a street, embossing would be your speed bumps in the road. On the other hand, debossing would be when you come across pot holes in the street.

Embossing & Debossing Examples

Embossing Example is on top, while Debossing Example is on the bottom.

Reasons for using embossing or debossing vary. It can be used for both aesthetic purposes as well as for functional reasons. These printing techniques can be used to make your invitation more decorative or seem more elegant, while businesses tend to use it to appear more professional or for identification purposes. However, they are also used for both publishing and legal purposes. Think of braille, credit cards, or a notary stamp.

Many different materials can be used for embossing. However, the most common material used is paper or card. Other materials that can be used are: cloth, leather, glass, wood, and more. The die bevel and depth of the impression will determine if the imprint is visible on both sides of the material, as well as if any shading is created with the imprint. Sometimes designs even use the use of both techniques creating both raised and pressed imagery.

Bevel and Depth Examples 2

The process utilised to create the impression is often determined by the type of material used. However, the most commonly used process requires a die and uses force for application. Typically, there are two dies: one male and one female. The male die has the raised design or text to be imprinted, while the female die has a recessed version that fit perfectly into one another. When the paper is pressed, it forces the paper between both the male and female dies, and in turn, creates the desired impression.

Every day we come into contact with some form of embossing or debossing. It can be used to add elegance to a wedding invitation or add a special touch to your business card. Whatever you use it for, these printing techniques add a special touch that make you want to look at it. The simplest project can become a work of art when these techniques are used correctly. However, it is important to make sure the embossing or debossing is of good quality. Otherwise, you can completely ruin your printing project.

1 – Image courtesy of

2 – Image courtesy of

3 – Cover Image Courtesy of