Wedding Invitation Glossary: 12 Printing Terms Defined

Updated 10/06/14

Cheree Berry Paper

Not sure what the difference is between letterpress and embossing? Are you befuddled by foil? And what on earth is a bellyband? Here's a quick primer on the most common printing terms, so you can let your stationer know exactly what you want — and create an invitation that stays on budget and gives your guests a glimpse of the wedding to come.


This decorative band of paper, fabric or ribbon wraps around the middle of your invitation, almost like a belt. It's ideal for dressing up a simpler invite — and keeping response cards, maps and other extras neatly contained.


A design is pressed into the paper, creating an indent. There's no ink involved, so you'd use this just to add a special design or monogram to the paper — not for the actual information.


A design is pressed onto a piece of paper that's placed between metal molds to create a textured image. Just like debossing, there is no ink or foil used, but this adds an extra bit of adornment.


The most formal and expensive style of invitation printing, where an etched plate is pressed into the back of the sheet of paper, creating raised lettering, then ink is applied. This results in a slight indent on the back of the card.

Foil Stamping

A small sheet of metallic paper is pasted onto the invite and then stamped or embossed to create a 3-D design.

Laser Cut

A laser is used to cut precise, intricate patterns (like lace) into your paper.


This printing style has become extremely popular due to the handcrafted, vintage look it creates — and the lower price tag, compared with engraving. The text is literally imprinted onto the page.


This is how photocopiers and computer printers do their work. You'd use this flat printing style for very delicate materials, like rice paper, that would be easily torn if one of the other methods were used.

Screen Printing

A technique where ink is pressed through stenciled woven mesh to create a design that has a hand-painted effect.


This number refers to the weight of 500 sheets of a particular paper. The higher the number, the thicker the paper.


This printing method resembles engraving, but costs less. Ink powder is applied and heated to create raised lettering.


This is the lettering style, or font. Changing this can give your invitation a completely different look, so experiment with a few different options before you choose.

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