Little guide to designing and printing business cards

First things first

Before you start thinking of the proper design of your cards, you must think of a couple of other things, let's go over them:

1. The format

When thinking of business cards, I'm sure that the majority of you think of the classic 84x55mm rectangles, but nowadays you can find a wider variety of shapes. Let's take a look at the three most common formats so you can decide which suits you better:

The classic (84x55mm)

As all classic things, this format is a total win-win and will never get old.

Pros

  • Fits perfectly in any wallet
  • It provides a good size and proportion to almost any image

Cons

  • It's very common, so it needs a good design to stand out

Square card (65x65mm)

In my opinion, this is a difficult formant, mainly because of the size, and I't might be trendy right now, but it could get old very soon.

I, personally, would only use this format if I were promoting a bar, and the card also served as a drink's coaster.

Pros

  • It provides a good size and proportion to almost any image

Cons

  • It doesn't fit in most wallets

Mini card (70x28mm)

A fun and modern format!

Pros

  • It's great for panoramic images, like landscapes
  • It really stands out from the rest

Cons

  • It's VERY easy to lose them, they are quite small and they tend to get misplaced
  • Your space for information and usually the font size will be very small and make the reading a bit difficult

2. Orientation

You must be consistent on the orientation of the front and the back of the card. Remember you must make everything as comfortable as possible for your potential clients, so don't make them "work more" by having to twist your cards twice.


3. What information must I include?

You must include all the basic information in order to let them know who you are and how to contact you, which will normally be:

  • Position/What do you do: Tutpad instructor
  • Phone number: +34 00 000 0000
  • Email: myemail@tutpad.com

Optional

  • Your name on social media: @wmrubio*
  • Your website/portfolio
  • Your logo
  • An image that represents what you do

But you shouldn't overload your cards! Try to keep it simple, tidy and clean.

Another thing you must have in mind is, if you're making a one or two-sided card, it mainly depends in the amount of information you want to put in.

*I personally would recommend that you used the same name on every single social media site, so you only have to put it once and people will find you much easier.

4. How to choose the correct image

Well in case you've decided you want to use an image for your card, you must choose wisely. This point could be a bit tricky...some of you might think it's easy or obvious, but believe me, I've seen a lot of cool visit cards that were not giving the right message.

I remember a particular case in which a girl, that was selling herself as a "character designer", chose a beautiful illustration she had drawn herself, in which you could see fashion items, like a mannequin and other things in a retro style.

So, when I saw that particular card, I immediately thought it was the card of a vintage fashion boutique.

Conclusion:

  • Was it a lovely illustration, well executed: Yes
  • Was the design correct: Yes
  • Did that card show what her owner wanted to be hired for: NO

Well it's a total fail then.

Then how do I choose the image that will represent me? Answer this simple question:

What is it that I want to be hired for?

Think about it, and after that pick from your portfolio images, the one that's closest. And it doesn't matter that as a professional photographer you love doodling in your spare time, what you have to show on your card is the best photo you have (or something photo-related) and leave your doodle for your family, friends, etc. 

5. Typography

Now probably the most important thing when designing a card is choosing a typography that is easy to read, because as we said before, business cards are to get hired or promote your services, so we want our information to be clear.

Well, they are no established laws about if you should use a serif or a san serif, you have to choose the one that suits your style best.

Also, you don't have to limit yourself to one single font, but don't get crazy here! Two is more than enough.

You need to have in mind that if you use two fonts the have to work together, they can both be serif, sans serif or combined.

Since I'm not a typography expert, I won't talk about this, I'll show you my personal favorite combinations, but I would recommend you to Google "Typographic combinations", and a world of good articles will pop out.

So here go some of my choices:


SUPER IMPORTANT!

Before you send your project to print, make sure you don't have any spelling mistakes, you should always ask for a second person to double check for mistakes.

6. Preparing to print!

Well now that we have all these things covered it's time to prepare our files!

You can prepare your files in any design program, such as Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign…

       1. Color mode and resolution

As it's going to be printed, you need to create a file that's 300dpi and in CMYK.

       2. Bleeds and security space

When designing your cards, you need to make them a bit bigger than the final size. And why is this? Basically, because printers and cutters aren't perfect and the might cut a couple of mm inside your design and ruin all the effort you put into it! So, you need to add bleeds and security space.

When something is "bleeded", it means that it goes to the very edge. The bleed (in red) is 2mm for each side of the document.

The security space (in green) is the space you should leave "just in case", we could also call them margins, so it's also an aesthetic matter, a good design need to "breath", so leave it space.

You can make them in any design program, but I will explain how to do it in Adobe Photoshop, because it's the program which I mainly work in.

The security space is, normally between 5-6 mm from each side.

 The problem with Photoshop is that it's "not prepared" for this purpose but it can be done.

You have to create the document with the whole size (48x59mm). Bring out the rulers (View>Rulers) and drag the guides and place them 2mm from each edge. And done!

And here is an example, for you to see, of a card that would come out correctly and another that wouldn't.

Wrapping up

And that's all for this tutorial!

Here we have the results:

And now we just have to print it! You can go to your local print shop or there really cool online places like "moo.com", for example which have a wide variety of papers and finishes. I would recommend to look for places that hand out free samples, so you know the options you have and see what suits you better.

Once you have your cards, just go out there and use them to get the life and the job you want!

External links

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María Rubio
María Rubio
María RubioTeacher

Graduated in Fine Arts and specialized in 2d animation and illustration she balances between her BG artist job in Boulder Media, with other personal projects! She's been creating tutorials for a long time already, so we could possibly say she is quite an expert on the subject!

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