Everything you wanted to know about label finishes but were afraid to ask…

Tactile Warning LabelIf you are at all familiar with our team at Readability you will know that when it comes to labels we can be a little bit fanatical.  It’s probably down to the fact that we have been living and breathing custom labelling since 1992!  To the majority of the human race the lowly label is just something to “stick on something” but for us labels are so much more – you can use them to communicate, to inform, to promote, to conceal and to protect.

The range of labels available today is beyond what we could ever have imagined possible when we started out, over 20 years ago, supplying simple standard sized self-adhesive white labels. Now there are a myriad of finishes, embellishments and materials that can be combined to enhance the aesthetics and performance of the label.

We thought it might be useful to introduce some of the popular materials and finishes that we use on a regular basis and explain how these can change the look and/or feel of your finished label.


Label Printing Finishes

Why would I want a print finish on my label?

Applying a finish to your labels can help maintain quality, improve durability and enhance appearance.

These are the most popular print finishes:-


A varnish finish is where a clear ink is applied over the printed labels to add protection and/or give a higher gloss finish.

For a more subtle effect, you can choose a matt varnish finish which gives a flat, soft look and feel.

Alternatively, if you have areas on your label that you would like to highlight you can select a spot varnish option in either gloss or matt.  A spot varnish finish works well to draw attention to your branding.  If you print batch codes or BBD (Best Before Dates) on your labels they can be printed, using a thermal transfer printer, onto the printable varnish.

Foil Stamping

The process of foil stamping involves applying a metallic foil to the printed label.  Whether you choose hot or cold foil stamping the finish is the same. The face material, that is the top layer of the label, is what will make the difference to the finished product.

Foil stamping is popular for enhancing certain items on your label, such as a decorative border or to pick out your brand name.

Foils are available in a wide range of colours and are the ideal solution when you want your label to stand out from the crowd, convey the impression of quality and build brand recognition.  The use of holographic foils adds another dimension to your labelling, making it innovative and distinctive.


Embossing is a technique for creating a 3D raised or textured finish to a label.  It involves using an embossing plate on the press after the label has been printed.  Embossing is a popular finish for brand marks on premium products and is used extensively on wine and champagne bottle labels.

Raised Screen Varnish

A resin varnish is used with a screen mesh to create a raised area on the label.  This finish can be used for text or to outline an image. However, the most common application is on labels made to inform near sighted or blind people of potential hazards, for example, medicines or products requiring the ISO 11683 raised triangle.

Want to see and feel the difference for yourself?

Call Philippa on 01440 712273 to request your free label sample pack.