Jargon Buster
Print Jargon Busted: Print Finishes

The type of print finishes you choose can have a dramatic effect on your printed material. But with so many to choose from it can be difficult to know which one to use. Your printer will be able to advise on the best print finish for the job as well as the grain and weight of the paper.

Take a look at our guide to print finishes to give you a better understanding of the different types and help you get started in thinking about your next printing project.

Blind Emboss

Blind embossing is the process of raising letters or designs when no printed image has been included. This type of print finish is most effective when used with card or strong paper.

Die Cut

A die cut is often used for folders, packaging and brochures. Die cut is the process where areas of a document are partially or completely cut, shaped (as in rounded corners on a business card), or cut-out in a variety of shapes. The die is a steel blade used to punch out the desired shape.

Blocking & Foil Blocking

Blocking is the process of impressing or stamping a design. The design can be blocked in colour inks, gold leaf or metallic foil. Foil blocking gives effective eye catching detail to your marketing materials. Matt foils can be applied to glossy or reflective materials and white foil is perfect when used on dark coloured materials.


Coating is used to protect printed items from ink smudges and finger marks. A water based coating in either gloss, matt or silk is applied to the printed materials. Coatings are commonly used on coated matt or silk paper, which are more prone to smudging than gloss paper. Coatings dry faster than varnishes and tend to be more scuff resistant and have a lower risk of yellowing paper.


Emboss is the technique of raising a portion of the printed page to create a shadow and add dimension to a design or image.

Digital Printing

Digital printing is when printed materials are printed directly from electronic artwork such as a PDF. Digital printing typically uses four colour processes and is ideal for short run printing. This process can be used to add personalisation’s to printed materials; each piece can have elements that are unique to the recipient i.e. name, address. Whilst not technically a print finish, it is the best method of personalisation and can give a printed item the WOW factor.

Metallic Inks

Metallic inks can be spot printed onto a page and can add an extra dimension to printed materials due to the reflective quality of their metallic components. Metallic inks are available in a range of pantone colours and it is recommended that coating is applied to prevent smudging.


Perforation is the process of running a dotted score into paper, allowing sections to be torn off easily. This is commonly used for vouchers.

Offset Lithography

Offset Lithography is a printing process by which the inked image to be printed is transferred (offset) first to a rubber layer before contact with the paper, which takes up the inked areas. A more traditional method than digital and can be used to print CMYK, specials or a mix of the two.

Personalisation (Variable Data Printing)

Variable Data Printing, also known as variable information printing (VIP or VI) is a form of digital printing which allows various elements such as text, graphics and images to be changed from one printed piece to the next, without stopping or slowing down the printing process. The personalisation of a document can improve response rates by up to 30% and customer loyalty in both the short and long term by between 25% to 50%.


Scoring creates a line or depression in the paper to help the paper fold easily. Folding paper without scoring it first can look unprofessional and the paper may crack. A reverse score is where the outside of a printed item is scored and folded back on itself. Reverse Scoring is often used on glossy or plastic coated papers.


UV is a special varnish that has undergone an accelerated drying process using ultraviolet. UV gives a glossy finish to print materials and can be used on specific sections of a page to enhance a logo or image.


Varnishes like coatings are applied to protect printed literature from ink smudging, finger marks or to enhance the appearance. There are five main types – machine, gloss, matt, silk and UV. Applying varnish to the whole document as a seal is an ‘overall varnish’ whilst applying it to specific areas for effect is a ‘spot varnish’.


Thermographic printing is a powder and heat process. The powder becomes liquid when heated and quickly dries hard when it cools. The end result is a raised surface on the paper. This is often used on business cards but can create interesting textures for invites and postcards.

If you would like to know more about specialist print finishes or would like to discuss your printing requirements, please contact us on 01527 510262 or email info@nulllemonpress.co.uk

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Covid-19 Update

During these uncertain times, we want to reassure all our clients that production remains unaffected, and we continue to print and fulfil all current and new orders to the high-quality standards you all know and love.

Internally safeguards have been put in place at Lemon Press including following procedures and guidance supplied by the BPIF (British Printing Industries Federation).

Sales and estimating continue as normal but to minimise risks, we have reduced the teams' attendance at our premises. Therefore staff that can complete their tasks remotely are set up to work from home.

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