Print Finishing Techniques

Print Finishing Techniques

In a world where every business is competing for attention, print is an effective tool in making a good first impression – and print finishing can either make or break a design.

Print finishing is the work that’s done to printed products once the ink has dried. From making your product more attractive to giving it extra protection, there are plenty of print finishing techniques to ensure you get the effect that you want.

Here’s a rundown of the 9 most popular print finishing techniques:

Cutting & Creasing

Cutting & Creasing

Products often need to be cut and creased after printing so they can be folded more easily. Cutting is mostly done by guillotine, but die-cutting is also used.

With die-cutting, a punch made of cutting blades is fitted to the machine, the paper is loaded and the punch is lowered to do the cutting. Creasing is used to assist folding and prevent cracking and uses the same technique as die-cutting, but with blunt blades.


Die-cutting is a great way to help you achieve the image you want, fast. Shapes, tabs or designs are cut out of the paper using a steel-edged die.

Even if it’s just a simple rounded corner, die-cutting helps grab the audience’s attention and is commonly used on corporate stationery such as folders, business cards and brochures.



Lamination gives a solid print finish with a modern and elegant feel. It adds a thin layer of protective plastic that offers water and tear-resistance and can have a gloss, matt or satin finish.

Gloss laminates tend to contrast photos and images better and are sharper. Matt is more toned down and is similar to varnish. Satin offers glare-reducing qualities and provides a soft sheen.



Encapsulation provides extra protection and durability and makes documents water resistant. It involves placing the sheet inside a rigid strong plastic pouch and heating it, resulting in the product having a sealed plastic border.

It’s perfect for menus, signs, placemats or anything that’s used outdoors, is going to be regularly handled or needs extra coverage.


Ideal for brochures and magazine covers, varnishing enhances printing and provides a protective layer.

The most common type of varnish is gloss aqueous, which makes printed images stand out and look more appealing. Other types include matt aqueous (less glossy), silk (moderately subtle and glossy) and machine sealing. Spot UV varnishing is commonly used to enhance images and text.


Foiling can be added to parts of the design to create contrast and emphasis. It’s a technique where metallic foil is applied to the paper using a heated metal die and a foiling stamping machine.

Foiling is more effective when used with other techniques, such as embossing. Gold, silver, pigmented, holographic and security options are most common.


Embossing is the raising of particular parts of a page to create emphasis and texture. Physical depth is added to the original elements, thus creating shadows and highlights in the design. It’s distinctive and tactile in that embossed areas can be felt by the target audience.

Embossing is sometimes used in conjunction with other techniques to improve its effectiveness.



Dating back to 1439, debossing is one of the most ancient techniques.

In contrast to embossing, debossing involves a block template with a raised image that’s inked up and pressed onto the paper’s surface to recreate the image in reverse.

Debossing is ideal for adding physical depth, decoration and vintage effects.


Thermography produces a raised finish in selected areas and is often used in corporate stationery, packaging, folders, report covers and invitations.

Different thermographic powders give different finishes: metallic gives a metallic sheen; glitter powder gives a sparkling and dazzling effect; and fluorescent powder makes the coloured finish brighter and more vivid.