All About Embossing and Debossing

You're not alone if you need to become more familiar with embossing and debossing. These two printing techniques are often confused with one another—for a good reason. Both embossing and debossing involve making raised or recessed designs on a surface, but the key difference is that embossing is done on the front side of a piece while debossing is done on the back.

What Is Embossing?

Embossing is a printing technique in which a design is raised above the surface of the paper. This is accomplished by passing the paper through a die, a metal plate with a raised design. The paper is then pressed against the die, causing the design to be transferred onto the paper.

There are two types of embossing: relief and Intaglio. Relief embossing is when the design is raised above the paper's surface, as we described. Intaglio embossing, on the other hand, is when the design is sunken into the paper. This embossing requires two dies—one for each side of the paper—and results in a more pronounced design.

Source: Wikipedia: Embossed paper seal

How Is Embossing Done?

There are two main ways to emboss a design: a die or a mold. Dies are metal plates that are engraved with the desired design. They're placed on top of the material, and then pressure and heat are applied to raise the design. Molds are 3D versions of the desired design. They're placed on top of the material, and pressure is applied to create an impression of the mold in the material.

Source: Wikipedia: Hand-operated embossing machine

What Is Debossing?

Debossing is similar to embossing, but instead of raising the design above the surface of the paper, it sinks into the paper. This is accomplished by passing the paper through a die with a recessed design. The recessed areas of the die will press into the paper, resulting in a debossed design.

Like embossing, there are two types of debossing: relief and Intaglio. Relief debossing is when the recessed areas of the die press into the paper, as we just described. On the other hand, Intaglio debossing is when the raised areas of the die press into the paper. This debossing requires two dies—one for each side of the paper—and results in a more pronounced design.

How Is Debossing Done?

Debossing is done in much the same way as embossing, except that instead of using a die or mold to create an impression on top of the material, a die or mold is used to create an impression below the surface. This is done by placing the material on top of the die or mold and applying pressure from below.

Applications for Embossing and Debossing

Embossing and debossing can be used on many different materials, including paper, cardstock, leather, fabric, metal, plastic, and even wood. Some of the most common applications include:

  • Business cards
  • Greeting cards
  • Wedding invitations
  • Envelopes
  • Packaging


As you can see, there are many similarities between embossing and debossing—but there are also some key differences. If you're unsure which printing technique is right for your project, reach out to a professional printer who can help you decide. And if you're looking for inspiration, keep reading to learn about common applications for these two printing techniques.

Share this story

"Share on Facebook"

Most Popular

Most Recent

Keep in touch

Get design inspiration, business tips and special offers straight to your inbox with our cefBox's letter, out every two weeks.


Digital VS. Offset Printing for Packaging: Which one should I choose

View Details

For most businesses, a concern that often remains is deciding whether to opt for digital printing or offset printing. Both approaches are exceptional in different ways and succeed in particular fields. However, the environmental impact and carbon footprint of offset and digital printing are different. No matter how much you desire highly effective items and eye-catching packaging with solid branding, the printing process must be considered. Technology advancements have greatly improved printing methods. Since many different printing techniques are available, you can select a printing process based on your budget, volume, and quality. This post attempts to familiarize you with the various packaging printing methods that suit your needs.


Matte VS Gloss Lamination

View Details

How do you want people to feel when they first get their hands on your packaging? Lamination isn't as simple as choosing between matte and glossy finishes. When it comes to having an effect, they each bring something unique to the table. Let’s read about both laminations.


A Comprehensive Overview of Dieline in Packaging

View Details

For any business that produces packaged goods, dielines are an integral part of the process. But what exactly is a dieline? In short, it's a template for creating a custom box or package and plays an important role in the production process. Let's take a closer look at the basics of dielines and how they work.