Parchment by Dami's Guide to Stationery Terms!

"Dami, I have no idea what that means."

is what i hear often when I get so excited about a design i am working on with a client. I go on and on and on using all my fancy stationery verbiage lol. and then i have to go back and explain what all the terms mean. thankfully, i have learned to speak in lay man terms when talking about invitations but i thought it would be nice to start my very first blog with a complete guide to stationery terms. OK, maybe it isn't all the way complete. But it does cover most of the popular terms. let's get right to it. 

Digital printing: A printing technique that uses tiny dots to form text and images. it yields similar results to what you might achieve from your at-home printer (but with a bit higher quality). You're limited to thinner  less specialty papers.

Offset printing: Also known as "flat" printing. A process that involves a stamp-like instrument that prints the words and images at once -- the ink is premixed, unlike with digital printing. You can use highly textured paper to add dimension to the otherwise flat appearance of the text.

Die: An etched metal plate used to create engraved or embossed images and type.

Die-cutting is the process of cutting various paper shapes (like scalloped edges or patterns) and is typically used with envelopes (think all the trending fancy envelope flaps). The process uses a die that looks like a giant hole puncher, only with more precise cutting.

Embossing: A printing process that uses dies to raise letters and images on the paper's surface. The paper is impressed with etched designs and words to produce beautifully subtle details. an emboss can also be blind. Which means without the addition of ink or foil. letters and images appear raised but colorless.

Foil stamping: A technique in which a copper plate is used to push and color gold, silver or even colored metallic and non mettalic foils into the paper to make an impression. In the past, gold and silver foil were so dominant, but now you can pretty much foil in any color. This is easily our go to 2016 technique. This and laser cutting of course :)

gold foil stamped cards by parchment by dami

Engraving: A process in which a plate is etched with your invitation wording and is then pressed into the paper, leaving only the letters slightly raised. An indentation or "bruise" forms on the back of the paper from the pressure. The engraving plate is an etched steel or copper die used to create engraved type or images.

Thermography: A heat-based process that fuses ink and resinous powder to create raised lettering. The subtle difference between thermography and engraving is that with thermography, the text is slightly shiny and the back of the invitation remains smooth (engraving leaves an impression). 

Laser cutting: A process that uses a laser to cut out words and design details on invitations. This is by far a Parchment by Dami favorite. Mainly because the possibilities are endless.  Laser-cutting, although is not a new technique, has become a very hot trend in wedding stationery. i also love that you can laser cut pretty much any material like wood, paper, acrylic, and much more. 

Laser cut table numbers and Menus, gold mirror acrylic invitation, invitation pocket and envelope flap.

Letterpress: A printing technique in which a metal plate is carved to leave behind only the lettering and images you want printed (the wording and design are raised on the plate) -- the letters are then inked. The design is transferred by placing paper against the plate and manually applying pressure, sinking the images and letters into the paper (rather than raising them like with engraving).this is a technique that we love and wish we do more of. A little fun fact, the very first invitation i made was letterpress. and it happens to be my own wedding invites from six years ago.  

Screen printing: A process that involves a mesh stencil (the "screen") being pressed against material -- fabric, wood, acrylic, paper, etc. Ink is then pressed through the porous mesh onto the material with a roller.

gold and rose gold screen print on acrylic and fabric by pd

Typeface Terms and Techniques

Alignment: Used to describe the position of your invitation text in relation to the margins. Traditionally, the text is centered on the card; modern invitations often play around with the positioning of the text, sometimes aligning it all to one side.

Calligraphy: Artistic, stylized handwriting. Traditionally, a calligrapher would use ink and a quill or steel nib pen. Calligraphy can be used on invitations, envelopes, place cards and so on.

Flourishes: The ornate calligraphic details and scrollwork attached to calligraphy letters that frequent ultra-formal invitations.

Hands: The various (calligraphic) script and lettering styles a talented calligrapher can create.

we love seeing our invitations paired with gorgeous calligraphy. Work by eo letters and LH calligraphy (middle)

digital calligraphy: a font that mimics the traditional nib pen hand calligraphy style.

Font or typeface: The style and appearance of a letter or character.

Initial cap: A term for the exaggerated, oversize first letter of a word you'll sometimes see used in lavish calligraphy or as a decorative typeface. Also known as a "drop cap."

Point size: Unit of measure indicating the size of an individual letter or character.

Typography: Refers to the art of arranging typefaces, point size and line length into a cohesive and readable language.


a selection of pd invitations highlighting typography

"Paper" Terms

Backer: A piece of paper that your invitation is displayed on top of -- it often matches the color scheme of your wedding invitation. It's a way to add a design element to a simpler invite.

Beveled edge: The slanted edge of heavier stocks that shows the thickness and dimension of the invitation; oftentimes, it's edge-painted (see Design Treatment Terms).

Corrugated: Thick wrinkles, ridges and grooves that give paper a cardboard look.

Cotton fiber: A type of paper most often made from 100 percent cotton; it's arguably the most traditional option for wedding invitations.

Deckled edge: The irregular, feathered or torn-looking edge associated with handmade paper.


Linen finish: A paper type with a surface that's grainier than pure cotton stocks and resembles the look and feel of cloth linens. Another classic choice for wedding invitations.

Liner: A decorative piece of paper used to line the inside of envelopes -- can be thin like parchment (see below) or thick like construction paper.

Marbled paper: Decorative paper (you can use it for your liner) marked with swirling patterns, similar to the surface of marble. this is a hot trend right now

Matte: Paper with a non-reflective finish; depending on the thickness, it can be used for the invitation.

Parchment: Cloudy, translucent paper, generally used as a decorative element rather than for the invitation itself.

Stock: Used to describe the thickness and heaviness of paper. Formal invitations usually use a heavier stock paired with squares of delicate stock like parchment.

Vellum: Paper made from a cotton blend, with a translucent, frosted appearance and a smooth finish (feels like plastic). Vellum is sturdy enough to be printed on and can be used for the actual invitation.

Watermark: A translucent emblem in fine paper that's visible only when the paper is held up to light. A watermark denotes superb quality, signifying the exclusivity of the paper company or boutique.

Presentation and Packaging Terms

Boxed: A custom-made box created out of silk, velvet or even elegant, thick paper that holds the entire invitation suite inside for a luxe presentation.

satin, card stock and silk boxes by pd

Bifold: An invitation that's folded in half so it resembles a greeting card. It's sometimes referred to as a "folder" because you can add a pocket on the left panel for response cards and other enclosures.

Envelopes: The most traditional way of packaging invitations. Envelopes can be classic (white or off-white), or made more modern by personalizing them and infusing them with your wedding color palette. They can also be made of burlap, vellum or silk. this year, we have payed particular attention to making custom envelopes with customized flaps.

gold and emerald flap, oak leaf flap and a baroque gold flap

Gatefold: An invitation with two panels that meet in the center and open up like doors to reveal the wording. It may include folders on one or both panels as well.

Belly band: A piece of material that wraps around your invitation suite to hold it all together. It can be as simple as a ribbon or as luxe as laser-cut paper or a piece of lace.

silk ribbon, paper and lace belly band examples by pd

Trifold: Card stock that's folded into three panels, accordion style; the typical invitation wording is printed on one panel, while the others might contain information for peripheral parties and/or the travel and accommodation information.

sleeves:  a pocket that holds all the pieces of an invitation suite. 

blue gatsby sleeve, hibiscus sleeve and white and gold foil pocket by parchment by dami

Design Treatment Terms

Edge painting: Painting or inking the edge of thicker card stock; it's often done on an invite with a beveled edge.

Map cards: Most commonly featured on enclosure cards in invitation suites. Maps can be hand-painted and customized to call out locations where the wedding events will take place and even the couple's favorite local spots. Directions to the wedding may be printed on the same card.

Monogram: A combination of your fiance's name and your name -- it can be both of your first names, your first and last initials, just your first initials or simply your new married ones. Many couples use a custom-designed monogram as a wedding motif.

monogram used in floor decal, napkin ring and vinyl on invitation box.

Wax seal: A very traditional form of sealing your envelopes. Oftentimes a family emblem is made into a wax seal for the wedding -- many couples also create their own monogrammed seals for the occasion.

IN conclusion, most invitations use a combination of techniques. That is where the beauty lies, achieving the perfect balance that fits the client. 

*all professional pics by AMY ANAIZ PHOTOGRAPHY. Some definitions obtained from*