Foil Stamping for Custom Hardcovers and Paperbacks

Foil Stamping

Guidelines and Recommendations for Foil Stamping, Embossing, and Debossing

Bookmobile can foil stamp, emboss, and deboss custom hardcover cases, dust jackets, and custom paperback covers. Browse our Gallery to see what our creative clients have done in the past, and keep reading for our specifications and guidelines.


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Definitions

  • Foil stamp: A foil or pigmented material is adhered to paper with heat and pressure, using a metal die.
  • Emboss: An image or text is raised from the surface of the paper.
  • Deboss: An image or text is pressed into the surface, making a depression in the paper, using a metal die.
  • Die cut: A shape is punched out of the paperback cover, leaving a hole that the first interior text page will show through.
  • Blind emboss or blind deboss: The image or text is stamped “blank,” without a matching foil or printed design.
  • Registered emboss or registered deboss: The stamped image or text is registered to a matching printed design.
  • Die: A metal plate with a design or image on it, used to foil stamp. Bookmobile outsources the manufacturing of the dies.
  • Hit: The number of times we need to stamp the die on the paper to create the text or image.

Specifications and Limitations

  • The largest area we can stamp with one hit is 30″ square. For example, a front cover foil stamp that measures 5″ x 6″ will equal 30″ square. A foil stamp on a spine that measures 3″ x 10″ will equal 30″ square. Larger area stamps can also be achieved using multiple hits with multiple dies, but the designs on the dies should not overlap.
  • Our minimum die size is 20″ square—we can stamp text or a design that’s as small as 1″ square, but we will still charge for manufacturing a 20″ square die.
  • A stamp on each surface of the book MAY be considered a separate die, depending on the design and size. Please talk to your CSR about your design plans to find out what’s possible and how to make it work best!
  • Reversing text or art out of a solid box of foil is not recommended. The largest solid area we can foil stamp is 4″ square.
  • We do not recommend using small type sizes (less than 16 point), serif fonts, condensed type, and fine lines as a part of the stamp design—they tend to fill in, and we cannot guarantee their clarity.
  • For front and back covers, we need a minimum of 3/16″ distance between the stamp (type, rules, or important images) and the edge of the book’s board (for a hardcover) or trim edge (for a paperback).
  • On spines, we need a minimum of 1/16″ between the type and the spine’s edge.
  • Art for the stamp must be black and white, vector or bitmap, line art only, and submitted as a PDF file.
  • Bitmap line art or text should be 600 DPI.
  • We cannot stamp screens or gradients.
  • Avoid combining bold areas with fine lines in the same die (for example, large block type for a title combined with a small fine logo). It’s difficult to maintain quality with a large variation in coverage. If the difference between elements is too great, it may require two dies and two hits.

Questions about any of the above? Contact your CSR! Even better, send us a PDF of your design to review with our production department. Don’t have a customer service representative yet? Get a Quote and tell us about your foil stamp plans in the Notes section.

Other Considerations

  • Foil stamping can be used in conjunction with either embossing or debossing. Please note:
    • Foil stamping with a debossed impression requires only one die.
    • Foil stamping with an embossed impression requires two dies.
  • We can foil, emboss, or deboss a printed cover. However, anytime a hot die comes in contact with our printer’s toner on a printed cover, it will remove the toner. Because of that, in general lamination is recommended, with these exceptions:
    • Foiled designs do not require lamination, as the foil material is between the die and toner.
    • While debossed designs over print do require lamination, embossed designs do not require lamination, as they are stamped from the back of the cover. It is not recommended to foil or deboss a duplexed cover, as the heat will partially remove the unprotected toner on the duplexed side.
  • We cannot emboss a hardcover case.

Alternatives to Foil Stamping with a Die

  • For custom hardcover runs of 100 copies or fewer, with trim sizes of 6″ x 9″ or less, and a foil stamp on the spine only that’s less than 2″ wide, we’ll use our digital foil stamp machine, unless otherwise requested by the publisher. Our digital foil stamper does not leave a debossed impression (the design will be smooth). This option is a great fit for academic titles.
  • For a black foil stamp on a Rainbow paper hardcover case, we can print the text or image instead. This will not leave a debossed impression, and please note that black is the only color that will print well on a dark Rainbow paper. (Our digital inks are transparent and do not show well on dark-colored stocks.) This is also a great fit for academic titles. 

Questions about any of the above? Contact your CSR! Even better, send us a PDF of your design to review with our production department. Don’t have a customer service representative yet? Get a Quote and tell us about your foil stamp plans in the Notes section.

Die Cuts

  • We can die cut paperback covers that are printed on 10 pt. C1S stock with gloss or matte lay flat lamination.
  • We can only die cut simple shapes (circle, square, triangle, octagon) that are at least 1″ in diameter.
  • To quote a die cut, your CSR will need a PDF of your design.

File Prep

  • Please review the Specifications above.
  • Ask your CSR for a template for the cover, case, or spine.
  • Please include crop marks in your files, outside of the bleed.
  • If you have broken out your files into layers (a PDF of what is printed and a PDF of what is stamped), please make certain the files are the same size and register with each other.
  • Please provide us with clear instructions for your stamped project. This is particularly important if we are breaking out your file for you.
    • What is going to be stamped?
    • Is it a foil, deboss, emboss, or a combination of foil and emboss/deboss?
    • If deboss or emboss, is it a blind stamp or a registered stamp? See Definitions at the top of this page.
    • What is the foil color? Our current choices are gold, silver, and black.
  • Remember:
    • Art for the stamp must be black and white, vector or bitmap, line art only.
    • Bitmap line art or text should be 600 DPI.
    • We cannot stamp screens or gradients.

Questions about any of the above? Contact your CSR! Even better, send us a PDF of your design to review with our production department. Don’t have a customer service representative yet? Get a Quote and tell us about your foil stamp plans in the Notes section.