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Embossing Vs. Foil Stamping Vs. Spot UV

So, you want the most unique, awesome business card possible. But how can this be accomplished? The answer is, by utilizing enhancement features like embossing, foil stamping or spot UV.


Embossing is the process of pushing design elements “through� the cardstock from the opposite side of the card. Whip out your credit card, and you will see this effect on the card’s account number. The embossed elements are raised on one side, and indented on the other.

Although embossing sounds cool, it does have some serious limitations. For one, it is relatively expensive, often adding $75-$100 to a typical business card order. Plus you cannot combine embossing with other special effects like UV spot on the same card.

Second, embossing limits your business card design flexibility, as the embossed areas must be clear of artwork on both sides. You do not want embossed elements to intermingle with your card’s “non-embossed� artwork, as this would produce a jumbled mess.

Finally, it is almost impossible for printers to line up embossed areas down to the millimeter. Generally speaking, this means that areas with printed ink cannot be embossed because the embossing and ink will be misaligned the majority of the time. Therefore, your embossed areas must be the same color as the background color of your card.

Foil Stamping

This is where a metallic layer of foil is applied on top of your card design, on areas you choose. Most printers provide a small handful of color options for this.

The upside of foil compared to embossing is that foil provides some “non-background� color flexibility (although you are usually limited to 3-5 color options).

The major downside is that foil stamping can shift slightly, much like the embossing process. Additionally, the nature of the foil material is such that the foil could flake over time, especially after pulling the card in and out of your wallet repeatedly.

Spot UV

Spot UV is where specific areas of your card are treated with a glossy coating. This effect makes the treated areas slightly raised and shiny relative to the non-glossy cardstock.

Spot UV has one huge advantage over embossing and foil stamping. Spot UV does not have the same alignment problems, which means that specific ink areas can be treated, thus retaining the underlying color. So for example, if you have a blue card with red text, you could apply spot UV to the text, making it not only shiny and slightly raised, but also allowing the underlying red color to be retained.


If you’ve read this far, then you already know that spot UV is usually the best option of the three. It is the least expensive, provides the greatest color flexibility, and has the sharpest look.

Spot UV, like the other 2 enhancements discussed, works best on silk cardstock due to its non-glossiness and durability. Check out our Spot UV Business Cards and our Luxury Business Cards for products featuring spot UV.

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One Response to “Embossing Vs. Foil Stamping Vs. Spot UV”

  1. Mike says:

    Excellent information! Thank you! I have been trying to decide between spot UV and foil. Spot UV sounds like the way to go.

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