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Events - 8 Mar 2024

Print Techniques – Letterpress

Letterpress is a process of ‘relief’ printing text and image, a much more ‘physical’ printing method. In recent years, letterpress usage has been widened, to print line work or type as spot colours, but it is no longer used for 4 colour printing. Typically, one or two colours are used on a piece.

Preferred applications are invitations, greeting cards, and business cards – but letterpress can be a creative springboard for many other projects.


• Do not expect the same level of detail as in offset printing. Avoid very thin fonts and fonts with very tight letter spacing.

• Printing large colour masses can cause the paper to ripple. Don’t print photos or screened images – unless you want a very coarse screen as a design element.

• Do not print light colours on dark paper, as letterpress inks are translucent – they don’t completely cover the surface they are printed on (like trying to repaint a dark-coloured wall with a light-coloured paint). Metallic inks are however an exception.

• Choose thick and soft papers, preferably with cotton content. Longer cotton fibres bend more easily and allow for a deeper impression.

• Laminate 2 boards (300gsm) in the case of a 2-sided document. This will prevent the debossing effect from showing on the reverse side.

• Prefer simple designs with crisp lines, patterns, and typography, and just a few colours. Lines should be roughly larger than .35 point, and type larger than 6 point.

• Play with pressure and printing depth: Depending on the pressure applied by the letterpress blocks when transferring ink to paper, the debossing effect will be more or less deep. Adapt pressure depending on the design and according to each customer.

• Think of combining different depths of emboss in a same job.