Invitation Printing Methods

There are many ways to print on paper, and it can definitely get confusing with all of the different options. We’re even a little overwhelmed sometimes when thinking about the possibilities! While the printing can get very specific, here is a quick breakdown of the invitation printing methods we use in our studio.

Now, we say “use in our studio”, but we actually send all of our printed materials to trusted outside printing studios. The three main types of printing that we use through these outside studios are digital, letterpress, and foil printing.

Digital Printing

Digital printing is a toner-based process using an image generated from a computer and printed flat on the paper. This type of printing is ideal for very colorful artwork and watercolor art. You can print an unlimited amount of colors and these are printed by a laser machine printer. You can combine digital and other printing types in almost any scenario, but digital printing can only be done on cardstock or thinner paper. Digital printing on 220# paper is possible but does require the additional process of gluing paper together, known as duplexing.

When ordering invitations, most clients choose digital printing for their details cards, reply cards, envelope printing, envelope liners, and any watercolor art. It’s most popular for clients to print the main invitation card with letterpress, foil, or paper upgrades. Digital printing is unavailable on handmade paper due to the fibrous materials that jam up the digital printers.

    Cost: lowest

    Colors: unlimited matte colors

    Texture: none, flat on page (same texture as the paper it’s printed on)

    Paper Weight: 80-120#, cannot be printed on handmade paper through my studio

Letterpress Printing

Letterpress printing is a process that involves putting ink on a printing plate, which is pressed into the paper. This creates an impression of the plate design into the paper. Each plate can be used one color at a time, therefore, the more colors and/or different designs you have, the more expensive it will be to add additional colors (or passes).

Letterpress is best with heavier papers, but is still incredibly elegant and beautiful on cardstock. If you do a letterpress print with no ink, it is known as a blind letterpress pass. This creates a beautiful texture in the paper without the color for a more subtle effect.

    Cost: medium-high

    Colors: one at a time, priced per color (also called per “pass”)

    Texture: impression in paper, makes best impression with thicker paper

    Paper Weight: 80-220#, handmade paper

Foil Printing

Similar to letterpress, foil printing is also done handmade, one color at a time, and has a plate that stamps the design into the paper. The main difference is the use of a copper plate for the design versus the plastic letterpress plates. This is because the foil printing works by laying a sheet of metallic foil on paper, heating up the plate and pressing it against that metallic paper. This leaves a slight indent on the paper of the plate design and produces a beautiful shine. Because of the copper plate, the cost is higher when choosing foil printing.

    Cost: highest

    Colors: one at a time, priced per color + pass

    Texture: metallic shine and usually a slight impression

    Paper Weight: 80-220#, handmade paper

Hope you learned something from this brief run-down for the types of invitation printing methods! There are more types of printing out there, but that can be for another day! Any other questions about your invitation options? Let us help!

Want to find out where we print? Check out our Complete Supply and Vendor Guide, the only place we list ALL of the vendors we use – by name! Updated each year for the best info (;

July 19, 2021