What Is Embossing? Your Brief Guide

At some point in almost everyone’s life, they run across a piece of embossing. For example, embossing is common on things like high school and college diplomas, birth certificates, and other official documents. You also routinely see it on things like stationery, business cards, and even in library books.

Organizations use it for things like official seals, logos, and even business names.

Are you asking yourself, “What is embossing?” Keep reading for a quick guide to embossing and the embossing process.

What Is Embossing?

In simplest terms, embossing is a process for creating a raised image on documents or, on occasion, thin cardboard. For a good example, go and pull out your birth certificate or your high school diploma. You’ll almost certainly see a spot that includes a state seal.

If you run your fingers over that spot, you’ll feel that the seal is raised up above the rest of the paper. You may also see embossing on things like award documents from organizations.

Sometimes, an organization will pair up embossing with gold or silver foil over an organization or state seal to add a little extra panache to the award.

The Embossing Process

There are several distinct embossing processes. Probably the most common version of the process depends primarily on a metal die and simple pressure.

The metal die gets cut so the major features of a seal are raised up from an otherwise even base. You can get a die cut to almost any specification and even include a limited number of words. For example, companies that specialize in dies will often cut business designs like logos into them.

For more on the dies, you can head over here to learn more.

Printing companies will then load the die into a machine that presses the die against the bottom of a piece of paper or, more often, hundreds or thousands of pieces of paper.

You can replicate this process at home on a limited scale with handheld embossing machines. People often use them to mark a book as “From the Library of (insert name).”


Embossing and debossing are essentially inverted versions of the same process. Instead of using a die to raise an image on the surface of a piece of paper, the image is pressed down into the paper. If you run your hand along the bottom of the paper, you will feel a similar effect as embossing creates on the surface of a piece of paper.

Embossing and You

With the question of what is embossing out of the way, you’re left to consider how you might employ embossing. If you own a business or play a leadership role in an organization, you have several options.

You could order custom stationery or business cards that include embossed logos or seals. You could also have new versions of awards you give out made with an embossed and even foiled seal.

Looking for more tips on business-related processes? Check out the posts over in our Biz section.