Guide to Print Finishes


Whether you’re looking to produce a high-end brochure or want a business card that will impress, the finishing options you select will depend on the look and feel you want to achieve.



Adding a varnish to paper stock gives it a smooth texture and helps to seal in the ink, making it rub-resistant. There are three types of varnish to achieve the look you want:

  • Matt varnishing – understated, less reflective
  • Gloss varnishing – gives a high quality, premium look
  • Satin varnishing – a hybrid of matt and gloss



Lamination is another way to make printed stock more durable and is commonly used on business cards. A layer of plastic film is laid over the stock providing a protective coating which can be gloss or matt. 


Spot UV Varnish

Unlike sealing varnishing, you can specify the coverage area and enhance elements of the design. With this type of finish, you can also apply special effects such as tints and glitter in a gloss or matt finish.


Foil Blocking

The look is achieved by heating a coloured film or foil which is impressioned by a metal die (stamp) directly onto the paper. The final result is a highly opaque print which is indented into the paper. The finish is available in a variety of colours and can be gloss, matt or textured. 



Embossing is when the design is raised, whilst debossing results in a depressed design into the paper. Both finishes are a good way to draw attention to graphics, logo or text. For a minimal and subtle effect, another alternative is blind-embossing, which is when the embossed area is not printed.



For multi-page documents such as brochures, magazines and leaflets, there are a number of different binding options, which vary in cost:

  • Perfect binding and PUR binding 
  • Case-bound (hard-backed) 
  • Saddle stitching 
  • Tape, comb, spiral and wire-o 
  • Half and Full Canadian binding 
  • Cased-In Binding 


Die Cutting

Die cutting creates a bespoke shape within the design. Metal blades are shaped to the chosen design and embedded into a wooden base, known as a wooden forme. This is then pressed into the paper stock to cut out the bespoke shape.


Laser Cutting

A CO2 laser can cut precisely through the printed stock without the need to produce wooden formes like with die cutting. This method is good for shorter/medium runs and works on almost any paper stock.


Duplexing, Triplexing & Multiplexing

Multiple coloured paper stocks can be glued to give a decorative and colourful finish to the edging. Although effective, you should expect extra production time to allow the adhesive to cure.

We hope this has helped you to understand what print finishing options are available to you. However, if you would like some more advice, we’re happy to help – just give us a call on 01202 727070 to discuss your project requirements in more detail.

If you want to find out more about print production, you might be interested in reading about the difference between digital and litho printing or find out what our designer’s favourite print finishes are.