The Basics of Business Card Design

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A business card in some cases is the most important marketing piece that a company will have. It has the potential to make or break business deals, and is just as important as the way you present yourself during a first impression. In this post, we will cover some of the basics such as typography, layout, object placement and printing standards when designing a business card.

Printing Standards

Before you move too far into a fresh design, printing standards should always be considered. Most printing companies now require files to have appropriate bleeds and margins or your might get an email to upload new files and in some cases, incur extra fees. To correctly set up your design, you need to download or create a template. There are two ways to establish what type of template you are going to use, and that is whether you are going to have image bleed or not. Bleed is the area in which an image runs off the edge of your design. If your image doesn’t bleed then your job just got a little easier. Use a 3.5×2 document. If you are using bleeds, then make sure your template is set up with a 1/8″ margin outside the printable area. You can download a sample template here.

Typography

Using typography in business card design is critical to having a great looking business card. Limit the number of fonts that you use. Too many type styles can really get confusing. On top of that, it could just be downright ugly. Use a font that compliments the logo or other elements on the card.

Layout and Object Placement

Don’t clutter your business card design. Always remember that there is a back side available to print. If your client gives you a laundry list of information that they want on their card, then create a couple of different areas of text on the front, usually the contact info, and keep the extraneous text to the back side. Logo placement can be a critical point in the overall design. As a designer, use your judgment as to how much space you want the logo to take. Maybe it’s an awesome logo and it needs an entire side of the card. When I start with a business card design, I usually start with 5-10 different layouts and narrow them down as the design moves forward.

Don’t forget that a business card is a point of contact, not a brochure. It could be single-handedly be the most important marketing piece for some companies. The object is to leave a lasting impression and create a feeling of class and trust. Thanks for taking the time to read this article, and I hope that it will benefit you on your next business card design. If you’re looking for some great business card inspiration, then check out Creattica for some awesome business card examples.

Business Cards

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Brett Davis is the owner of Make Me Cards, a printing company specializing in business card printing. He takes great pride in producing the highest quality business cards possible. You can visit his website or follow him on Twitter.

  1. 1

    Great elements Brett. I have however been wondering where I can get business cards letterpressed. I know that it is a trend but it is also what sometimes make a design unique. Anybody has resources on that? (especially for international orders)
    .-= Sachin @ Web Design Mauritius´s latest Blog Entry – Failure of the web design community in Mauritius? =-.

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    • 2

      Check out Mandate Press for letterpress business cards. Although it is trendy they make a very good first impression “WOW” factor.

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    • 3

      Hey Sachin, I actually want to get into letterpress myself. The end results of letterpressed products are phenomenal. I’ve actually been following this site for a while now and they have some top-notch stuff for inspiration.

      Beast Pieces

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  2. 4

    Very informative. Can you comment my business card design here:

    http://blog.balootisme.com/designer/baloot-new-business-card-design/

    I need positive and negative comment from you. :)
    .-= Baloot´s latest Blog Entry – 10 Tutorial Untuk Website Developer Merekabentuk Blog WordPress =-.

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  3. 7

    Picture this, I’m sitting at my PC re-designing my own business card when up pops your tweet with some very welcome inspiration… impeccable timing Brrett :D

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    • 8

      Your welcome :)

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      • 9

        Brett, found your blog in a random way as you do!- interesting reading. Not sure though, that as a designer you should be spreading the use of basic bad grammar by your use of when you actually mean . It seems that half the world doesn’t know the difference and I think we have a social responsibility as designers to correct that misconception! Sorry, it’s just a little bête noire of mine but I think it is hugely important. On the business card tip here are some of mine: http://craftyfish.com/offline/business-cards/

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      • 10

        Oops! the post I submitted above has been stripped of the most important info due to my use of tags! Any way of editing that to show what I was talking about? ” your ” instead of ” you’re”.

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    • 11

      That’s great Lyz. Glad our post was able to give you some needed inspiration. :)

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  4. 12

    I’m glad you said it isn’t a brochure haha..It certainly seems that way with some people.

    Sometimes I like to make rough storyboard-like sketches taking the elements and placing them in every corner/angle possible.. But always thoroughly research online printing companies–I ordered from one not realizing that they cut their cards significantly smaller than standard business cards.

    A business card should also display your comfort level in your ability. Don’t stifle design options because of what’s considered “standard.”
    .-= Melody´s latest Blog Entry – Self Liberation Through Site Redesign =-.

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    • 13

      Haha, I do the same thing. Placing the information is so hard because there are an infinite amount of ways that you can lay it all out. Business cards are actually very tough for me to design, but I do enjoy it, especially because I really get to play around with typography.

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  5. 14

    Nice post Brett. I am not into graphic design much but this post was really helpful to understand some basics.
    .-= Smashing Share´s latest Blog Entry – 30 Beautiful Chinese Landscape Wallpapers =-.

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  6. 16

    Another great custom blog post, love it, and as im doing business cards for my company very shortly, its great stuff to know.
    .-= Alan´s latest Blog Entry – Services =-.

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    • 17

      Thanks Alan! I’m really enjoying the process of creating these types of posts. I’m able to be more creative and also, I get to present the information in a design that actually suits it.

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  7. 18

    Great post! I’ve always thought that DubLi has wonderful business cards, though I don’t have an image to hand right now.

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  8. 20

    Good points and it will make feel better for the new designers…
    .-= Web Risorsa´s latest Blog Entry – Graffiti Fonts Collections for Free Download =-.

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  9. 21

    Awesome post Brett. There is so much about the design of business cards I wasn’t aware of, until now.

    Jad, you got experts in all the fields writing for you. I cannot wait for more of such cool posts.
    .-= Richie´s latest Blog Entry – Free Icons : Gold embedded Leather Social Icon Set =-.

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  10. 24

    Excellent timing Brett!! this put me on swing on re-design my bc ..

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  11. 27

    Hi Brett don’t know how to post the design in the comments but here’s a link to it, critique away! :D

    http://www.diligentdesign.co.uk/diligentdesign-bizcard.jpg
    .-= Lyz Cordon´s latest Blog Entry – What Taps, Toilets & Our Subconcious Can Teach Us About Web Design =-.

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  12. 32

    When I first started to design for print I didn’t pay much attention to the bleed area. I remember looking at the finished flyer wondering why there where white borders on some of the flyers. It’s important to set up the correct margins, keep the important information within the margins, and let the background image extend across the margins.

    Overall Brett, this was a nice and precise article.
    .-= Bryant Littrean´s latest Blog Entry – Website: helpyourhabitat.org =-.

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  13. 34

    Awesome article. Completely agree that you should keep it simple with only a couple different fonts max.
    If you need some business card templates check out my site
    .-= Phil´s latest Blog Entry – Special Event – Flyer Template =-.

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  14. 35

    Terrific post Brett. I’ve been eying up my own business card redesign and you might have just pushed me to stop eying and start acting!

    Jad – continued unique and high quality posts… top notch stuff mate.
    .-= Chris Fernandez´s latest Blog Entry – c_illustrates: Reading ‘The Dying Art Of Design’ (via @smashingmag) http://tinyurl.com/ych44zv – Interesting, recommended reading. =-.

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  15. 37

    Amazing article! Loved the way you descrive the way to think about typography, I would like to share one business card we made so far:

    http://i813.photobucket.com/albums/zz51/xplaye/xplaye_bcard.jpg

    Cheers guys!

    PS: Love the new website layout. :)

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  16. 41

    I’m a big fan of not paying to get my cards printed, and instead making my own – makes them more unique and fun, especially when you add texture to the card (through stamps, cutouts, or wraps).

    I wrote a blog post about it: http://www.limedaring.com/building-beautiful-business-cards/

    Otherwise, love the information about typography and not cluttering, great info!

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  17. 43

    Great timing! I’m currently in the process of designing my new business card.

    I think that your right in that a lot of people clutter up business cards with too much information. Simplicity and impact are crucial I think!
    .-= Tom´s latest Blog Entry – 100 Free Movie Fonts =-.

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    • 44

      Yes, I find that with most clients, they try to cram too much information, birthdays, multiple phone numbers, Social Security numbers, LOL! J/K

      Anyway, the old adage is definitely good to apply to business card design. KISS (Keep it simple, stupid!)

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  18. 45

    Awesome post, always love these informative articles. Love your point about bleeds, I work in a small print shop and designers always seems to forget about setting up bleeds and margins. Love the custom post design :)
    .-= loswl´s latest Blog Entry – Create A Sleek Looking iPad in Photoshop =-.

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    • 46

      Hey Mark, glad to see you here on Design Informer again. I’ve been so busy lately that I’ve completely forgot about your blog. Anyway, glad you enjoyed the post and the custom design.

      I never knew you worked at a print shop. Where’s my discount? ;)

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  19. 47

    Hey guys, I need some help!

    This article has some great guidelines for great B-Cards. What about the print side? I have been looking for printers that can print different textures or materials, size or cuts, etc. But the web is flooded with online printers that focus on cheap prices and limited options.

    Any suggestions? As DI suggest, the B-Card is the first point of content, especially with your brand! Spending extra for custom printing is worth the money in my experience.

    THANSK! As always, great article DI!
    .-= bryan noel´s latest Blog Entry – nicholaspatten: 39 Examples of Minimalist Web Designs. http://bit.ly/cj7Uk5 =-.

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    • 48

      Hey Bryan, that’s definitely tough. I myself have tried multiple companies. I know Brett has a company, but ultimately, I think you just have to try different companies until you find one that matches what you are trying to do. Let me know which company you use and how the cards turn out. I’d love to be able to have a company that I can refer to people. It’s also been a long time since I’ve printed out some business cards.

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    • 49

      Send me an e-mail, I can help point you in the right direction, and might even be able to print your cards.

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  20. 50

    Excellent timing, I am also in the midst of a business card design and this post has helped me get past my designer’s block.
    .-= Nicholas´s latest Blog Entry – is private the next social? facebook, twitter, and the romans =-.

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  21. 53

    Excellent post, Brett. I always try to emphasize that business cards are so important because they are a potential clients’ first impression of you!

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    • 54

      I think its easy as designers to understand the first point of contact element of a business card, the problem seems to be conveying that message to small business owners. Be sure to remind clients the importance of a nice card. Thanks for the kind words, glad you enjoyed the post.

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  22. 55

    Great post!. Good tips that help define the design of this important piece of business. I share with you other criteria for the design of business cards http://bit.ly/cdPpjg

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  23. 57

    I totally agree with you! A business card is an important piece in marketing. This is a great resource for awesome business card inspiration http://cardview.net
    .-= Cardview´s latest Blog Entry – Dreamten Business Card =-.

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  24. 58

    Nice combination of the visual along and description. Creating a business card is quite hard. You only have 7 square inches of real estate, and you must fit a lot of information in it.

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  25. 59

    Wow, what a great article. I feel like lots of people drop the ball on business card design because – well – they get lazy. The basic solution in business card design with all text aligned right and logo left. BLAH!

    Great examples of amazing business card design/ THANKS

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    • 60

      I also think people drop the ball on the printing processes. I’m currently working on a post about using different print processes to accentuate the design of a business card.

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  26. 61

    Cool post, simple business cards are always the best IMO
    .-= Greg Babula´s latest Blog Entry – CSS3 GeneratorYou can play around with all your favorite CSS3… =-.

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  27. 62

    Hi Brett! Very nice and clear post! Even if we are witnessing a phase of paper digitization I think that a paper business card is indispensable, especially in the launch phase of a startup or in the process of setting up of a new company..
    Check out this post with some tips to create a professional business card:

    http://blog.iamasource.com/blog/2010-03-05/The_Importance_of_a_Professional_Business_Card.aspx

    I thank you in advance for your comments :)

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  28. 63

    Nice post, what do you think of my design?

    http://mikepuchol.com/my-pcb-business-card/

    Looking for feedback too!
    .-= Mike Puchol´s latest Blog Entry – My PCB business card flashes its LEDs! =-.

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  29. 65

    My card is not fancy at all, but I took care for the paper. It has a thin matte foil coating, which is very pleasant to touch. People usually mention this when I handle the card to them, and this allready make them corious about my work. :) Thanks for the article, was a nice reading!

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  30. 67

    Awesome post, both content and design.

    I love those new types of posts with that unique post design. I mean you always had that with special paragraphs and outstanding typography but this is even better.

    I guess it’s time for a redesign of my business cards. :) Maybe with letterpress or something.
    .-= Palmbados´s latest Blog Entry – Palmbados: Upjers kündigt neues Browserspiel an (Open-Beta) =-.

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  31. 68

    Excellent advice Brett. When designing a business card the best advice I can give is to keep is simple. This post is a great resource for anyone looking to get started.
    Another nice custom post design Jad! Keep them coming!
    .-= Duane Kinsey´s latest Blog Entry – Google Doesn’t Understand Professional Logo Design =-.

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  32. 70

    For my two cents: Selecting a print service that will carry out your special printing needs for a reasonable price (spot colors, letter press, unique weights of paper, special inks, etc.) and the terminology to use so they don’t screw you.

    There are printing companies out there that will force you to do 4 color process for everything and not take into consideration uncommon printing needs.

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    • 71

      That is a big drawback to online business card printing. So many companies now are using 4 color digital presses and mass production. Makemecards.com works out of a small print shop, we have a 2 color press and 2 full color digital printers on hand. And lots of other services. I’m just getting started on the web, so our site will be updating very soon to reflect our many options.

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  33. 72

    Very informative ! i tried my some biz cards and shown to my friends who are already in job- but these guys fix one thing in their mind, the want simple white ( the design format from 1990) yuck.. i made with some texture… and to my surprize they said they can print this!!.
    ->> jad ….
    do companies always fix their format style. we cant create creative one( multiple colors, 3 colors) ???
    .-= sriganesh´s latest Blog Entry – Winners announced: Top commentators Ad Slot for march2010 =-.

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    • 73

      Quality printing costs money, most clients are pushing towards full color printing to get it cheap, and forgetting about Pantone inks and quality print work. If you need help send me an email. brett @ makemcards.com

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  34. 74

    I am not a graphic designer, but I do design business card templates in my freetime. For me is the layout and placement point you mentioned the most important. It can be difficult sometimes to get the placement right. Especially when you try to keep a design 1sided. Sometimes when I view designs of others I am surprised what great ideas for placements the designers have.

    Good article I enjoyed reading it as well as the comments made to it.
    .-= J32´s latest Blog Entry – Elegant Coffee Shop Business Card =-.

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  35. 75

    Hi, thanks for sharing, Very nice design. I love it.

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  36. 76

    Definitely covered only the basics…

    What about choice of paper/material to print on? Personally if the budget permits I like using clear plastics… different mediums require different designs.

    Also a must have which is obvious but should be included is to consider how the business card design fits into the overall marketing mix of the customer.

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    • 77

      I agree about brand continuity, a business card needs to represent a company as a whole and not be a stand along marketing piece. Choice of paper is also critical to get the right look and feel of a particular design. The clear plastic is a nice choice although limited to full color printing in most cases. You can try a thick vellum stock for a similar look that allows for more custom printing options.

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  37. 78

    These are definitely good points to follow for designing a business card. In my case, I’m pretty unsatisfied(I think most designers are when the card is for yourself), I finish a design, then another, and after so many weeks, I’m still not satisfied with my business card. In short, I’ll take a few days to finish it, when I have the final design, I will show them to receive their comments. Greetings.

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  38. 79

    Very cool. I find that so many people underestimate the importance of typography and the stock used for cards.

    Crappy stock especially gives a bad impression to their brand.

    -Agata
    .-= Vancouver Graphic Designer´s latest Blog Entry – Blossom Winery – Rebranding & Packaging =-.

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  39. 80

    I’m actually working on a branding package for a client, which includes business card design.
    This article is pretty good, but does not cover stock. I personally believe that recycled material is a huge benefit. It might be a little more expensive in some cases, but it’s good for the environment, and a good return on investment.

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  40. 81

    Brett~ What do you think of recyclable material for business cards? Do you guys offer this as an option?

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    • 82

      We do have some recycled stocks available, most all paper now days is at least 30% Post Consumer Recycled. We can print on 14pt Satin Recycled as well as a 14pt Matte Recycled. Both are coated with a satin Aqueous coating for full color printing. If you would like Pantone spot colors on a custom paper selection just send a message via our contact page. Renewables are always a solid choice for any product, most of our in house clients are asking for recycled as well. Thanks for mentioning it!

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  41. 83

    Some excellent points in this article. A very good read. I personally always try to get a high quality glossy UV coated stock for my cards.
    .-= Roberto Blake´s Latest Entry – Music Monday Inspiration 4 =-.

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  42. 84

    Also you should include a qr code on your business card http://zxing.appspot.com/generator/

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  43. 85

    First of all, very nice blog layout! Second, nice tips. More people should consider the things you mentioned especially de-cluttering their designs.

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  44. 86

    This has been very helpful! Thanks for sharing.

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  45. 87

    Although previously an abbreviation LOL is also at times abbreviated even much more

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  46. 88

    Your blog is so educational ¡­ preserve up the great perform!!!!

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  47. 89

    Very nice, can i be so specific to ask what type of paper did you use?

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  48. 90

    Thanks for this. We used it to design our biz cards. Really helpful. They look really professional.

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