Today’s web professionals spend more and more time on projects that once belonged to print designers. This means you need to brush up on printing knowledge if you want to stay competitive.

The first thing to learn: imprint methods. Commercial printers offer an array of options and capabilities you won’t find on a standard office printer. So without further ado, here’s a rundown of the 4 most popular imprint methods and when to use them:

Four color process

Also known as CMYK, this method mixes four inks to create a range of colors. It’s great for projects involving photography or complex patterns. However, CMYK colors vary between printers, and they don’t come in metallic or neon options.

PMS printing

PMS printing uses premixed inks that are the same color no matter which printer you go to—meaning you can match brand colors or choose neon and metallic options. This method is most cost-effective for designs with 1-3 colors.

Foil stamping

This option uses heat and pressure to apply a thin layer foil to your design. It comes in metallic and non-metallic options and works on any stock, making it one of the most versatile methods. However, highly detailed designs tend to result in cracked foil.


These imprint methods are applied the same way, with opposite results. Embossing raises the design, debossing recesses it. They pair well with other imprint methods and give the design a unique texture.


While cross-training is important, it’s difficult to learn all about imprint methods overnight. The best thing to do is to hire a printing company like Company Folders, the creator of these tips, to help you navigate the finer points of the print process.