Social Stationery

As with the clothes you wear, the stationery you use makes a statement. When you create and assemble your stationery wardrobe, keep in mind the impression you hope to make. Your stationery should reflect both your personality and the type of correspondence you’re sending.

With that in mind, there are three questions you should ask yourself when creating your perfect stationery wardrobe. Let’s dive in, shall we?

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What Kind of Paper Should I Use?
How Should My Stationery Be Printed
Social Stationery Wardrobe Elements

This is actually a three-part question, as you need to choose the material from which the paper is made, the color and the types of stationery.

Paper M​aterial

Paper is made from either cotton or wood. The first true papers were made from cotton almost 2,000 years ago. Wood-pulp papers came into being in the 1800s during the Industrial Revolution. They supplanted cotton-fiber papers for many uses because of their lower cost and the seemingly endless supply of trees.

paper cotton  

Some of the finest paper, though, is made from cotton. Before you order your stationery, run your fingers across the paper. Stationery made from cotton will have a soft, rich feel. You’ll undoubtedly recognize the quality inherent in cotton-fiber papers. Crane’s 100% cotton fiber papers have the touch and feel of uncommonly beautiful papers.

Paper C​olor

​Stationery comes in many different colors. Ecru (also known as buff, cream, ivory or eggshell) and white are the most popular, but grey, blue, pink, yellow and other colors are also available.

Type of Stationery

You can order several different types of stationery. The two most basic are one for writing notes and one for writing long letters. While these two items are essential, you may wish to add variations of these two as you build your stationery wardrobe.

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Stationery can be engraved, blind embossed, thermographed or flat printed.


Engraving is one of the oldest and most beautiful processes for reproducing images on paper. The appeal of engraving lies in the exquisite detail created by its three-dimensional impression. Engraving is produced when the copy is etched in reverse into a copper plate. Ink is deposited in the resulting cavity. The engraving press then forces the paper into the cavity, creating a raised impression. The paper is literally raised, with the ink adhering to the raised surface. The fact that the paper is raised is what distinguishes engraving from thermography and flat-printing.

It’s easy to tell if a piece of stationery is engraved. Simply turn it over. If there’s an indentation (caused by the pressure from the engraving press), it is engraved. You can also tell by looking closely at the impression on the front. The paper will be smoother there, and the sheet may have a little ripple. This is called the “bruise” and is a natural part of the process.

Engraved stationery is more expensive than thermographed or flat-printed stationery. However, much of the price difference lies in the initial cost of the engraving plate. Since engraving plates can be used over and over again, subsequent orders of engraved stationery cost only a little more than other types of stationery.

Blind Embossing
Blind embossing is the same process as engraving minus the ink. The image is simply the raised paper. You might recognize blind embossing as the raised address on the flap of a wedding envelope.


Thermography is sometimes called “raised printing,” although the printing is not raised at all. Unlike engraving, where the paper is actually raised, the raise in thermography is created by a resinous powder that is melted over the flat-printed ink. Thermography is less expensive than engraving but, while quite handsome, is not quite as luxurious as engraving. 

Flat Printing
Flat printing, as its name implies, is simply ink applied to a flat surface with no raise.

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​Half Sheets

Half sheets are single sheets of stationery that fold in half to fit their envelopes. They may be embellished with your monogram, name, address, or name and address. Write only on the front of a half sheet, never the back. If you need additional space, use blank second sheets.

Monarch Sheets

Monarch sheets are used for longer personal letters and for personal business letters. They measure 7 1/4 x 10 1/2 inches and fold into thirds to fit their envelopes. A name, address or name and address appear at the top of the sheet. Write only on the front of the sheet, never the back. If you need additional space, use blank second sheets.

Correspondence Cards

One of the most useful items in a stationery wardrobe is the correspondence card. Less formal than notes, these increasingly popular items are used for thank yous, informal invitations and short notes. Correspondence cards are flat, heavy cards that usually measure 4 1/4 x 6 1/2 inches and are mailed in matching envelopes. They can be plain or bordered, depending on your tastes. A name or a small monogram may appear at the top of the card. Write only on the front of the card, never the back. If you need more space, use a different type of stationery, perhaps a half sheet.  

House Stationery

House stationery may be properly used by any resident of your house or by any guest staying at your house. Many people keep house stationery at their country and beach homes so that stationery is always available for their guests and for themselves. Only the name of your house or your address appears on the stationery.
Couples Stationery
A folded note or correspondence card, couple's stationery​ features either the couple's names or a monogram. This stationery is used for correspondence that should come from both parties, such as a thank-you to the hostess of a cocktail party you both attended. Couple's stationery makes a lovely wedding gift.
For assistance in building your business stationery wardrobe, please browse our Business Essentials Guide​

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Have more stationery etiquette questions? Email our Crane Concierge at