Embossing and debossing are the processes of creating either raised or recessed relief images and designs in paper and other materials. An embossed pattern is raised against the background, while a debossed pattern is sunken into the surface of the material (but might protrude somewhat on the reverse, back side).

Embossing and debossing alter the surface of paper stock or other substrates by providing a three-dimensional or raised effect on selected areas. Each procedure requires the use of a metal die which is made from copper, brass or magnesium, and a counter made from plastic which together helps to push the paper into the die on press. The dies fit into each other so that when the paper is pressed between them, the raised die forces the stock into the recessed die and creates the embossed impression. A specific level of pressure and heat is applied to the dies to squeeze the fibers of the paper, which results in a permanently raised area in the paper.