Stationery Etiquette & Tips

Stationery Etiquette Begins with Selecting the Right Note Card.

The stationery you choose will make a statement to the person receiving it.  It will ultimately say a lot about you, so take this into consideration when selecting a design for your correspondence. Think about the impression that you want to convey and then select a card that is also appropriate for the situation.

Our Kelly Hughes Designs stationery are great for everyday and casual use.  Our note cards can be personalized and will help you make a statement with beautiful designs from our Modern collection or whimsical designs of our Classic collection.  If you want to make a more formal statement, you should consider some other companies like Crane’s.

Different Types of Stationery

Besides the designs, the main difference from one piece of stationery to another is paper quality.  The paper in stationery can be made from cotton or wood.  While the tradition of making paper from cotton goes back thousands of years, the vast majority of today’s papers are made from wood pulp.

Paper quality can be measured by the “weight” of the paper. Paper weight is often referred to as pounds (or lbs).  A paper with a weight of 20 lbs will be thinner and more flimsy than 100 lb paper stock.  Note cards and fine stationery usually range from 65 lbs for folded note cards to 240 lbs that is often used for formal wedding invitations.  Classic full-sized letter head stationery will have a weight of 28-32 lbs. For comparison, the standard paper used in today printers ranges from 20 pounds for standard paper to 32 pounds for heavier paper.  Find out more about paper weight.

At Kelly Hughes Designs, we use either 85 or 110 pound card stock for our custom note cards, stationery and invitations.  This is slightly heavier than the 65 lb stock that many stationers use and you can tell the difference simply be feeling the paper.

Paper C​olor

​White or cream stationery is the most popular color choice, but stationary can come in a variety of colors including: grey, blue, pink, yellow and other colors are also available.  All of our Kelly Hughes Designs stationery, note cards and paper products are printed on a white paper stock.  Our notes and invitations also include white envelopes unless otherwise noted in the product description.

Type of Stationery

Traditional stationery either available for writing notes — this is a smaller size and is often folded or you can choose a larger size (8.5″ x 11″) for writing those  longer letters.  Our Kelly Hughes Designs flat or folded notes are 4.5″ x 5.5″.  Our matching note pads are 8.5″ x 11.5″ are available as either plain or lined sheets.

The stationery design is usually flat-printed on the card but engraved, embossed and raised printed designs are also available from different stationery companies.  The type and design you choose should reflect your personality and the message that you wish to convey to the individual who will be receiving the letter.

How Should My Stationery Be Printed?

Kelly Hughes Designs stationery is all flat printed on 85 or 110 pound card stock.  Besides flat-printed stationery can also be engraved, blind-embossed or thermographed.

Engrav​ed Stationery

Engraving is one of the oldest  ways to create an image on paper. The process can render exquisite detail and create an impression that often appears in 3D.  The engraving process begins with the copy and image being etched in reverse into a copper plate.  Ink is placed on the plate and fills in the lines.  A press will then force the paper into the cavity holding the ink, creating a raised impression.  The ink then dries and sticks to the raised paper, creating a raised look.  The fact that the card is raised is what distinguishes engraving from flat-printing or thermography.

If you want to try to see if an image has been created using engraving, simply turn the stationery over.  If there’s an indention caused by the press, then it’s likely engraved.

Engraved stationery typically costs a little more because an engraving plate has to be produced for each design.  Stationers will often use engraving when mass producing a line.  If a piece of stationery is going to be personalized, then it is more efficient to use flat-printing or thermography.

Blind Embossing

​Blind embossing is nearly the exact same process as engraving except that there is no ink involved.   The image is create using only the raised paper.  Blind embossing is often used to create a raised design on wedding invitations and envelopes.


Also known as “raised printing,” thermography printing does not actually “raise” paper in the same way that embossing raises the paper.  The process uses a powder that is melted over flat-printed ink.  The result is stationery that looks very similar to engraved but is not quite a luxurious.


Flat-printing is simply the process of applying ink to a surface with no raise.  You’ve seen this look any time you’ve read a newspaper.  This process is the most efficient for producing short runs and personalized stationery.