Iain Fletcher

Using finishes to improve the quality of your print

How can you make your printed collateral stand out in this crowded arena?

Business cards are essential for use during networking events, which means almost every business person has one. The same is true for brochures and postcards, which often take centre stage during exhibitions.

So how can you make your printed collateral stand out in this crowded arena?

Special print finishes can increase the quality, durability and impact of your printed collateral, ensuring it stands out from your competitors and adds value.


Paper varnishes are often used to give printed pages a smooth texture or to seal the print and help preserve it. These varnishes can be gloss or matte and are usually applied to the entire surface of the print.

Varnishing is great for finishing high-quality books, magazines, or brochures, as it protects the print from rubbing and makes the pages more robust without adding too much weight.


Lamination involves applying a thin layer of plastic film to paper. There are various finishing choices with lamination, including matte which adds a smooth finish or gloss which makes images, designs and colours appear sharper and high contrast. Soft touch provides a tactile soft alternative as the name suggests.

Lamination also increases the print’s durability and water resistance, providing protection for pieces with high ink coverage (where the ink may transfer onto another sheet).

Unlike varnishing, lamination is most often used to add weight / bulk and to enhance the sturdiness of business cards and soft covered books.


Spot UV finishing involves the hardening of a paper varnish by UV light. This varnish is often applied to a specific area of the design, perhaps the logo or parts of the text, to make it stand out against the background.

Whilst Spot UV is most often applied as a gloss varnish, it can also be applied as a matt or a glitter varnish. Gloss varnish works best in combination with matt laminate as this gives the most contrast.


Foiling involves the ‘stamping’ of a thin foil film onto the design using a special heated printing press. Matt, clear and shimmer finishes can be achieved using this technique.

Again this is most often applied on small areas of print, such as the logo, text or specific design elements, to make them stand out against the background.

Foiling effects give reflective properties to the finished areas and can add an element of luxury to your printed collateral.


Embossing involves raising parts of the page for emphasis and texture, such as the logo, text or specific design elements.

By adding physical depth to the print, embossing creates shadows and highlights and adds tactile dimension.