A guide to embossing and debossing

Embossing and debossing are both great ways to enhance your prints and bring attention to specific elements of your design. These processes add texture to business cards, post cards, brochures and more, by creating raised or depressed areas on the paper. Highlight important details, such as logo, graphic, or names! Adding a tactile dimension to your print is a memorable way to impress your customers and communicates premium quality.


What is Embossing?

Embossing uses a die (personalized metal plate) to slightly raise images off the paper of your print piece. It creates a 3D effect that brings emphasis to whatever area you’re having embossed.

Embossing is made using two dies, a “front” and a “back” that sandwich the paper and create the 3D effect. The most effective embossed pieces use a detailed die and heavier paper stock to highlight the depth and detail of the embossed graphics or images.


What is debossing?

You can think of debossing as the opposite of embossing. Debossing is when an image (logo, text, etc.) is imprinted into your print piece, creating a depressed effect. Just like embossing, you can choose to leave the debossed area untouched or fill it in with ink or foil stamping.

Unlike embossing, debossing doesn’t interfere with the back of your print piece, giving you both sides to work with. It can be used on its own, or in conjunction with embossing.

Things to know about embossing & debossing

  • Rule thickness. Fine lines and text appear thinner when embossed versus being printed offset. Request a rule reference sheet to properly specify your rule widths before manufacturing.
  • Small text. Text naturally loses character density when embossed, which can be compensated for in the design or prepress stages. Discuss your design goals with your consultant to ensure the end result is one you anticipate.
  • Because of the pressure, the bruise that is created on back of sheet may interfere with information on other side.
  • Single-level embossing refers to a die that is etched to one depth. Multi-level or sculptured embossing dies have multiple levels of depth etched in the die creating a sculptured look.
  • Add time to your schedule. Multi-level Embossing dies are often handcrafted, which adds 3 to 7 days to a production schedule, notwithstanding other scheduling and manufacturing considerations.


Talk to a Pel Hughes printing professional today about using embossing or debossing for your next project.

Eye catching envelope design

Even though email has become the go to method for communication, nothing beats sending a good old-fashioned letter. Having envelopes that are creative and unique will make your mail communication stand out. Custom envelope printing will help get you noticed and into the hands of your recipient.


Tips and guidelines for envelope design and printing

The number one goal for your envelope design is to grab recipients’ interest to open it up and see what’s inside. The key is to grab attention quickly through use of color, images and text. An important secondary goal is to build brand awareness by making your envelope printing fit into the larger scope of your brand identity. Keeping your designs cohesive on your business cards, letterhead, envelopes and other marketing materials will put forth a professional image and create the strongest brand impact.


  • Color – While black and white can make a bold statement with the right graphics, color usually packs a bigger punch. If you already have a nice, brightly colored logo? Place it prominently on the front of the envelope with images that reflect your companies image. Custom envelopes is that they are printed flat, then “converted” into envelopes, so your design can wrap around the envelope, or you can inject visual appeal by contrasting the back or flap.

Be sure to keep the top right corner available with a light background for a stamp.

  • Images – Creative use of images in your stationery can really help you stand out from the crowd. Sometimes all it takes is a hint of an image faded in the background to instantly set the tone about who you are and what you offer.
  • Text – To create a sense of urgency or draw special attention, use bursts of texts such as “Special Discount”, “Urgent Time-dated Materials” or “Limited Space – Act Now!” Just don’t overdo it, the envelope is the teaser – the contents of your envelope should do the selling.


Paper Quality and Sustainability

An important part of the design is the paper you choose for your envelope printing.

Smooth or textured, you’ll want a quality uncoated stock that you can run through your laser or desktop printer for addressing. Smooth 70 lb. stocks, show off your color designs the best and are the most cost effective, while textured 24 lb writing stocks such as linen or laid offer a nice tactile, high-end feel.

To match your letterhead and envelopes more closely to your business cards or brochures printed on glossy or dull/matte coated stocks, go for smooth stock.

With custom envelopes, you don’t have to sacrifice quality for environmental responsibility. Choose environmentally responsible papers, or ask about fine writing papers that include recycled content.

Envelopes are one of those things that everyone forgets about and takes for granted. Put some thought into designing these precious packages to ensure you connect with your customers and get a fair shake in your direct mail marketing efforts.


Professional printing services

Still have questions have any questions about preparing your envelopes for production?

Contact Pel Hughes for help.

Printing tips: 5 Rules for Readability with Type

Word processing and desktop publishing packages allow us to create eye catching content which can be often inaccessible to many readers due to over design, over use of colors and typefaces. But content can both look great and be accessible, by creating documents with a clear structure and layout and using a clear typeface, we can produce document that will not just be eye catching but much more readable.

Good typography in your marketing materials keeps both “readability” and “legibility” in mind. While readability means exactly what you think it means: easy to read and understand, legibility means having sufficient contrast with a background.

Keep typography simple.

Selecting one font family for your entire printed piece makes it easier for the eye to decipher when glancing across the page. Choose a font that has many different weights, sizes, and styles to use for headings, quotations, or to emphasize a particular section. Build variety playing with these variables instead of switching between multiple font families.


Stay consistent.

Consistency will lend authority to the look of your piece and will become part of your branding for that particular item. Therefore, be sure that all of the headers look the same, including size and font type. The same goes for sub-headers, pull-quotes, etc


Use upper and lower case.

Using standard upper and lower case letters make the wording easier for people to read. This format is also what readers are familiar with and expect to see. While you can use all capital letters for emphasis in rare cases, it is not a good idea for regular print. This rule has more to do with how people read then the look or style of your design.


Keep lines short and add white space.

People tend to read three to four words per eye movement. It’s a good rule of thumb not to have your reader make more than two eye movements per line, so limit your lines to six to eight words. Flyers, billboards, and posters will work best with short, bulleted points and plenty of white space.


Use serifs.

Serifs are the little, extra strokes or flourishes at the end of the main strokes of a letter. They flow well from one letter to the next, reducing eye fatigue. Like the rest of our bodies, our eyes get tired when they have to do a lot of heavy lifting. Long printed documents such as books or sizable reports are easier to read when serif type fonts are used.


If all of this is too overwhelming, reach out to us today to schedule an appointment with one of our Account Managers!

Win customers with colorful packaging

Color is incredibly powerful. The right combination can be striking…

colorful product packaging







While a poor pairing can offend our sensibilities….










We can feel calmed, invigorated, happy, sad, excited – even nervous – based on a color we see. We associate color with people and places, times of life, and our surrounding environment.


With all of this being said, it shouldn’t really come as a surprise that making your product packaging aesthetically pleasing is essential to the success of your brand. In fact, an expertly designed package can make the difference in sales, brand recognition, and the success of your product sales overall.


When you’re picking colors to represent your brand, make sure to consider color associations.

How do Colors Influence People?

Red – Creates a sense of urgency, which is good for clearance sales. Encourages appetite, thus is frequently used by fast-food chains. Physically stimulates the body, raising blood pressure and heart rate, associated with movement, excitement, and passion.

Blue – Blue provides a sense of security, curbs appetite, and stimulates productivity. Blue is the color of trust and reliability, and the different shades give even more depth of meaning. Bolder blues represent a more serious or professional product. Lighter blues present more creativity and light-heartedness. Blue also contributes to calmness and security.

Green – Associated with health, tranquility, power, and nature. Used in stores to relax customers and for promoting environmental issues. Green stimulates harmony in your brain and encourages a balance leading to decisiveness.

Purple – Commonly associated with royalty, wisdom, and respect. Stimulates problem-solving as well as creativity. Frequently used to promote beauty and anti-aging products.

Orange & Yellow – Cheerful colors that promote optimism. Yellow can make babies cry, while orange can trigger a sense of caution. Used to create a sense of anxiety that can draw in impulsive buyers and window shoppers.

Black – Associated with authority, power, stability, and strength. Often a symbol of intelligence, but can become overwhelming if used to frequently.

Grey – Symbolizes feelings of practicality, old age, and solidarity. But too much grey can lead to feelings of nothingness and depression.

White – Associated with feelings of purity, cleanliness and safety. Can be used to project an absence of color or neutrality. White space helps spark creativity since it can be perceived as an unaltered, clean state.


It’s not complicated, but it can get there…do your best not to over do it with too many shades. Getting color happy can actually make your packaging look tacky and communicate the wrong message.


And always remember…

Test your colors on the material you are printing them on before running the entire batch! Different materials hold and display color differently, so you will want to make sure that the color you want is what is showing up before printing a few hundred copies.

If you are looking to design your packaging with a greater focus on color selection, give Pel Hughes a call and lets start a conversation! Our team can help drive revenue through outstanding package design.

Pel Hughes gets Energy Smart

Energy Smart, Entergy New Orleans’ energy efficiency incentive program helps New Orleans’ businesses implement and pay for upgrades that will lower electricity usage. Through the program, Pel Hughes completed an LED upgrade and that is estimated to save 185,740 kWh of electricity per year, that comes out to more than $16k saved on our electric bill per year!


New Orleans businesses can receive incentive funds to help pay for projects such as upgrading lighting to Energy Star certified LED’s and upgrading HVAC, chillers, building automation systems and more. Energy Smart is committed to working with local businesses, such as Pel Hughes, who provides the program with all its print materials. Energy Smart also works with local contractors and technical service providers to engage them growing in the energy efficiency economy in New Orleans. Contact Energy Smart if your business has any energy efficiency needs 504-229-6868, info@energysmartnola.com or www.energysmartnola.com.

Proven and effective brochure designs for automotive campaigns

Need to run an automotive campaign?


For more than 60 years, we’ve provided seamless, results-oriented marketing solutions – from commercial printing and direct mail to brand management for clients across multiple industries throughout the United States. We will provide you with enhanced automotive campaigns and design concepts to increase tracking, lead generation, and marketing analytics.


Check out two of our proven and effective designs…




Campaign Goal: Close deals by offering recipients attractive Buy Backs on their existing vehicles


Audience: targeted acquisition list in dealer’s market


Known information about recipients:

  • VIN#
  • Make/Model (UVCode)
  • Black book Value


Creative VDP:

  • Jumbo Postcard (recommended)
  • Full color personalized message to each recipient
  • Variable images of the year make/model of their existing car
    • Option: variable maps, image personalization, etc.


Call to Action: Attractive offer to purchase recipients’ current vehicle based on Black Book and demand. Appointment scheduling via PURL and/or Phone


Response tracking: PURL and/or phone tracking with trigger emails and dealer dashboard for leads


Campaign Value: Targeted and relevant offers leveraging existing data that results in high conversion rates.




Campaign Goal: Offer guaranteed loans to target audience with very attractive, personalized offer to each recipient


Audience: targeted acquisition list in dealer’s market


Known information about recipients:

  • Soft credit pulls (typically a credit score of 650+)
  • Accurate current financing information on each recipient’s vehicle
    • More targeted list options:
      • Cross reference VIN# Vehicle Make/model


Creative VDP:

  • Jumbo Postcard (recommended)
  • Full color personalized message to each recipient
  • Variable images of the year make/model of their existing car
  • Relevant offers based on current financing situation
    • Option: variable maps, image personalization, etc


Call to Action: Attractive offer to save customer money based on their current payments and credit worthiness. Appointment scheduling via PURL and/or Phone


Response tracking: PURL and/or phone tracking with trigger emails and dealer dashboard for leads


Campaign Value: Our list source guarantees all loans offered to each recipient if campaign parameters are met (direct mail campaign has to be mailed within 30 days of the list pull).


We’ve shown only two examples in our ever-growing arsenal of campaigns to target potential buyers. In addition to the different campaigns, we have tools that will help you lead the dealership in the right direction. From our catalog of designs to our tracking dashboard, we’ve got you covered.

How Augmented Reality Can Grow Your Retail Business

Do you know what augmented reality is?

You probably should, because this technology is about to infiltrate the world of commerce in a big way.


So what exactly is augmented reality?

According to web tech guru Margaret Rouse of WhatIs.com, “augmented reality is the integration of digital information with the user’s environment in real time. Unlike virtual reality, which creates a totally artificial environment, augmented reality uses the existing environment and overlays new information on top of it.”

One of the first known examples of augmented reality was the layering of “first down” yellow lines that appeared on television screens during football games in the late 1990s. Today, we see augmented reality at work in Google glass and heads up displays in car windshields, but AR is present on more subtle levels as well?


How does Pel Hughes leverage this technology?

At Pel Hughes, we use AR technology to give physical objects digital identities. Here are a few examples how AR technology is offering enhancements to how products are printed.  

    1. Universal barcodes – invisible, omnipresent barcodes that eliminate the need to scan a specific location on a package and provide custom content to consumers’ mobile devices
    2. Data rich packaging – packaging that is covered in camouflaged, repeated data that serves as a “scan anywhere” barcode, making checkout faster and your packaging completely artistic – no barcode to be seen
    3. Interactive print and digital – consumers can easily scan print and digital content, from posters to direct mail, for access to brand generated content. No QR code required.




What could using AR labeling technology mean for your brand?

  • Faster checkout – if they can scan your object anywhere, the process goes faster
  • Increased label durability – thermal technology makes sure that even if your packaging is burnt or torn, it will still scan
  • Increased connection to customers – with a simple scan of any part of your product, a consumer has access to brand generated content, and that content can change whenever you want, but your label doesn’t have to. AR technology gives you the flexibility to constantly stay useful and relevant, while QR codes afford less flexibility.


Interested in how AR can help your brand? Give us a call at Pel Hughes and we’ll see how this technology could take your sales to the next level.

Mohawk MakeReady: Resources for Digital Printing

Everybody loves a deal.

That’s why the team here at Pel Hughes is in love with Mohawk MakeReady and the site’s free downloadable resources.

We’re not talking about wordy white papers or useless guides.

We’re talking FREE dielines (templates for packages that show cut lines and folds of a package on a flattened surface) your business can download and use to save major money while creating an end product that is professional, convincingly custom, and budget friendly.

From wine glass templates to golf ball boxes, Mohawk has you covered.

Check out just a few of the templates they offer:

mohawk makeready


Pretty cool, right?

PLUS – everyone in the printing business knows that standard diecutting gets expensive quickly, and in order to make it worth your while, you need to hit a minimum…which is not always ideal.

After all, you don’t always need 500 paper golf ball boxes.

With Mohawk MakeReady downloadable dielines, you can print as few as 100 copies and avoid printing in excess to simply break even.

Need another reason to Mohawk MakeReady out?

Mohawk MakeReady offers more than just die cutting templates.

Over the past ninety years, this American paper mill business has built up an incredible amount of experience, knowledge, and industry clout.

Now, this knowledge is ripe for the taking in this site’s hundreds of “practical resources”

Resources include:

  • Quick videos
  • Articles
  • Presentations

If you’d rather browse by topic, choose resources topics from design to packaging to online marketing and sales techniques.


mohawk makeready


Ready to check out Mohawk MakeReady?

Dos and Don’ts if you are considering direct mail

Direct mail marketing to potential customers can be a very effective and lucrative tool in your marketing toolbelt. You just have to know how to use it to your advantage.

There are lots of DOs and DON’Ts when it comes to direct mail campaigns. Here are some of them:



  • Test and measure, then repeat – You have to start small, then measure the success before sending out more. Small could mean a couple hundred or a few thousand. It just depends on how big your business is. Are you tracking your orders and where the leads came from? This is how you measure the success of your first mailout. If the first mailout was successful, then you know it’s time for another, and maybe even a larger one this time.
  • Start with your existing customers – Do you already send them mailouts? If so, is it feasible for you to send them more?
  • Include a letter along with the brochure or other material you are sending out. Research shows it will increase your chances of getting a response.
  • Keep it simple – You have to very quickly and very concisely show your existing or potential customers exactly how they’ll be saving money or what awesome product they will be receiving. Too many details will only deter the client from reading more.
  • Create a customer profile – What are some of the shared characteristics of your current customer list? If you can come up with an accurate profile of your customer base, then you can better target your customers with the mailout campaign.
  • Offer incentives — discounts and free gifts are very effective in getting customers to take the plunge.
  • Give them a time limit — Make sure the offer has an expiration date. For example: Valid only through the end of November.
  • Make them more personal – This ties into your customer profiles and knowing your base. The more you can connect with them in your mailout, the better your chances are for a successful direct mail campaign.
  • Send multiple mailouts per year – You should consider mailouts at least five to six times a year for maximum results.




  • Forget to follow up – For those people who do respond to your mailout, it’s important to follow up with them, either with a simple thank you note or even another promotion.
  • Forget to proofread – Make sure your brochures, coupons, etc., look perfect and professional. One typo could cost you in the long run.
  • Mail to everyone – Just because you have their address, if you know that certain customers would not be interested in what you are offering, then don’t include them in the mailout. You don’t want to alienate existing customers who don’t fit the profile of this particular campaign.

At Pel Hughes, we offer amazing digital and offset printing services, knowledge of how to manage a direct mail campaign, and so much more. Let us know what we can do to help your business today.

How die cutting can set you apart

At Pel Hughes, we understand how hard it is to stand out on a desk or in a mailbox, so we offer services that will help your brand shine!

One of those services is die cutting.

But what exactly is “die cutting?”

Definitively, “die cutting” refers to the cutting of a thin, flat material into a shape or pattern using a piece of steel. These shapes are typically used as a decoration to make your piece pop and appear to be three dimensional.

Basically, die cutting is used to make pretty cut outs and borders that make your materials much more interesting than a simple flat surface.

If you think die cutting might be something your brand’s marketing materials could benefit from, we’re glad to hear it!

But there is something you should think about..

The first step with any project is identifying your budget. Die cutting will set you apart, but there is a reason: it can get costly at low quantities.

Which is why we recommend die cutting for projects requiring quantities over 1,000. At this number, you can get more “bang for your buck” !

We have definitely seen the amazing things diecutting can do for a brand, and we’re happy we’ve been the ones to create such distinctive pieces – from catering company business cards that look like a plate, to a real estate company with postcards in the shape of a house.

Ready to hear some of our ideas? We’re ready to share! Contact us today.