The perfect business card should convey a sense of what your business is about while also providing useful information about your company and your role in it. Although there is a limited surface area, by using the space wisely, you will give people more than just your name and address when you hand them your card.
If you have ever seen American Psycho, you know how seriously some people (namely Patrick Bateman) take business cards.
In this article, we’ll cover 7 steps to get business cards that are just right for your business:
- Choose Where You Want your Cards Made
- Choose Your Paper Finish, Stock, and Size/Shape
- Decide What Information You Want on the Card
- Design Your Card
- Choose Your Font(s)
- Add Your Info and Logo
- Place Your Order
Tip: Nothing ruins a good business card like using a personal email address, so if you haven’t already, set up your free business email address before ordering your business cards.
Step 1: Choose Where You Want your Cards Made
There are three primary options when it comes to making your business cards:
- Order from an online printer – This is the option we recommend because it’s super easy to use online printers (we recommend Vistaprint), and the cards end up looking very professional. The cost also ends up being less than printing the cards yourself once you add up the cost of the printer, ink, and paper.
- Work with your local printer – This is probably the most costly option, but you will also get the most personalized help here.
- Do it yourself – We don’t recommend this option because unless you are a professional designer and have a really good quality printer, the business cards are not going to look good. However, if you want to have a crack at it, there are free templates online, and you can buy business card paper here. You will need a high-quality inkjet or laser printer.
Once you decide where you want to get your business cards made, you can start designing your business cards.
Step 2: Choose Your Paper Finish, Stock, and Size/Shape
There are a few decisions that need to be made when it comes to choosing the type of business card that you want. Business cards range from classically simple to flashy and fun, so you need to know what impression you want to make in order to choose which options will work for you.
Glossy vs. Matte Finish
When choosing your paper finish, most business card companies offer the option of glossy or matte. Both options look good, so it is primarily a question of personal preference when deciding which option to go with.
The glossy finish has a gloss coating applied to the business cards that creates a shiny and flashy look. This option is recommended if you have an image or lots of color on your business cards, as it makes these elements pop.
The matte finish has a dull coating applied to the business cards that creates a protective, non-shiny look. This option is great for a more classic feel and is recommended for designs that are text heavy. We use a matte finish for our business cards here at Fit Small Business.
Another significant difference is that the glossy finish is harder to write on than the matte finish. This becomes a problem if you are likely to hand out your card at events such as trade shows or networking events. Since you are meeting a ton of people in a short amount of time, many people use the practice of taking notes on the back of business cards in order to remember the conversation. If people can’t write on your cards, it could hurt your chances that they’ll remember you.
Paper Stock Options
The paper stock refers to the thickness of the paper being used for the business card. Vistaprint, our recommended business card service and the one we used to design our cards at Fit Small Business, offers three levels of thickness for business cards:
- Standard – This option is the least expensive, but it is also pretty flimsy.
- Signature – The middle option provides a good thickness and only costs about $8 more than the standard option.
- Ultra thick – The thickest option is very sturdy. The downside is it could be too thick to fit into standard business card holders.
While it’s tempting to go with the least expensive option, if there is one place a small amount of money can make a big difference with the business card, it’s with thicker paper stock. We recommend going with the signature option (or 115 lb, 16 pt card stock).
Standard vs. Rounded Corners vs. Irregular Shapes
The standard business card is 3.5” x 2”, however you may be considering a different size or shape in order for your business card to stand out. Here are a couple of things to consider before deviating from the standard size:
- Added expense – Having a business card with rounded corners or with a unique shape will cost you extra.
- Easier to lose – Most people keep business cards in their wallets or in a rolodex to keep track of cards they’ve received. If your card is oddly shaped or made of a thicker material (such as wood or metal), it’s possible that it won’t fit nicely into places where people usually keep cards.
If you can afford the added expense, having a unique business card is a great conversation piece when you are meeting someone for the first time. However, we recommend keeping it the standard business card size (3.5” x 2”) to keep it from being easily misplaced.
Step 3: Decide What Information You Want on the Card
At a minimum you want to have the following information on your card:
- Your first and last name
- Your business name – If you are just starting your business and haven’t come up with a name yet, view our article on choosing a business name.
- Your job title – Learn how to come up with job titles in our article.
- Telephone number – Learn how to choose between a local number, 800 number, or vanity number for you business card.
- Email address – Make sure you’re not using a personal email address on your business card. Learn how to set up a business email address for free.
- Website – Putting a website on your business card will let people learn more about your company after you’ve handed them your card. If you haven’t set up a website yet, learn how to create one for just $3.45/month or less.
And here are some additional things to consider adding:
- Your logo – Whenever possible, you want to keep your branding the same online and off. If you don’t have a logo yet, view our comparison of the best logo design services.
- Your physical address – If you have a local business with a physical presence then adding your location information is a no brainer. If you operate 100% online however, you may consider using a virtual office to make your business seem more professional.
- Company tagline – Consider adding a short sentence which lets customers know that your business is the one for the job (read this article by James Chartrand for more on taglines).
- Social media accounts – This refers to your Facebook page or your Twitter handle.
- Fax number – Most people don’t use faxes anymore but if they still do in your line of business, then you should consider adding your fax number. View our guide to see which online fax service we recommend (one option is free!)
- Your picture – If you operate in a line of business like real estate or insurance sales where you and your business are one and the same, then using your picture is not a bad idea. Need a new headshot? Read our guide for tips on how to get the perfect headshot.
- QR code – You can use this so people can scan your card with their phone and have your contact details automatically added to their contact list. For more on this go here.
- Professional Certifications – For professions such as realtors or lawyers, you may want to include your certifications after your name. View our article on real estate designations to learn more.
Remember that there is a limited amount of space, and you don’t want to cram all of this information on your business card. Choose the information that is most relevant for your type of business to highlight.
Step 4: Design Your Card
There are a few different options for designing your card:
- Use a premade template – This is the cheapest and easiest option. If you decide to order your cards through an online printing company like Vistaprint, they will have templates that you can customize with your company’s information.
- Design yourself – If you know how to create custom designs, then you can choose to design your own business cards.
- Hire a professional designer – You can hire someone to create a custom design for as little as $5 on Fiverr. If you are willing to pay more, 99designs connects you with professional designers. You can expect to pay $449 for custom business cards.
- Work with the printing company directly – Some printing companies offer design services. The cost for this is generally somewhere between $100-$500.
We recommend using a premade template as this is free to do, and the templates can be customized with your company’s logo and information.
Step 5: Choose Your Font(s)
Remember that readability is the most important thing when choosing your font, so you want to avoid decorative fonts. We use Copperplate Gothic for our cards. Here is a list of fonts from Prepressure.com that generally look good in print.
Avoid hard to read fonts, like the font in the middle of the card above.
If you use more than one font on the card then it should be complimentary and it is not recommended to use more than two. Remember that you can use different sizes and bolding to make the important areas, like your business name stand out.
When in doubt, use the default font that is in the template you are choosing.
Step 6: Add your Info and Logo
If you are using Vistaprint, then you can very easily upload an image file of your logo and crop it so it will fit in the area reserved for logo. This of course assumes that you have decided to use your logo on your card, which is generally recommended.
Screenshot of Vistaprint’s Business Card Editor
The template should also allow you to easily select the text areas that you want to edit and change things like colors and fonts using a menu. If you don’t want a specific piece of info that the template has space reserved for, you can very easily delete things as well.
Don’t have a logo? There are many choices for logo creation! You can run a logo design contest for a few hundred dollars or for $5 get a designer from Fiverr to create a logo.
Step 7: Place your Order
At this stage you should have everything set and be ready to order your cards! We recommend using Vistaprint since you can easily create high quality and professional looking cards at a low cost using their website.
Business Card Costs
If you choose to go with Vistaprint, then click here to get 500 cards for $9.99 with free standard shipping. If you choose to have a slogan or something else printed on the back of the card then this will cost you $3 to $6 extra. If you choose the premium matte stock paper which is what we use, then that is an extra $8 or so. So all in all you can get a nice set of cards for less than $25.
At moo.com, another online business card service, you are looking at between $50 and $100 for the same number of cards, but some people prefer their templates to Vistaprints’ templates. You can use their price calculator here to see exactly how much you are going to pay including shipping.
View our comparison guide of the top 3 business card providers to learn more about pricing.
The perfect business cards should be affordable, well designed, and reflective of your business. If you need some inspiration to help you create your business cards, check out these business cards that we love.
Business cards are cards bearing business information about a company or individual. They are shared during formal introductions as a convenience and a memory aid. A business card typically includes the giver's name, company or business affiliation (usually with a logo) and contact information such as street addresses, telephone number(s), fax number, e-mail addresses and website. Before the advent of electronic communication business cards might also include telex details. Now they may include social media addresses such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Traditionally many cards were simple black text on white stock; today a professional business card will sometimes include one or more aspects of striking visual design.
Business cards are printed on some form of card stock, the visual effect, method of printing, cost and other details varying according to cultural or organizational norms and personal preferences. The common weight of a business card varies some by location. Generally, business cards are printed on stock that is 350 g/m2 (density), 45 kg (100 lb) (weight), or 12 pt (thickness).
High quality business cards without full-color photographs are normally printed using spot colors on sheet-fed offset printing presses. Some companies have gone so far as to trademark their spot colors (examples are UPS brown, Los Angeles Lakers' purple, and Tide's orange). If a business card logo is a single color and the type is another color, the process is considered two-color. More spot colors can be added depending on the needs of the card. With the onset of digital printing, and batch printing, it is now cost effective to print business cards in full color.
To simulate the effect of printing with engraved plates, a less-expensive process called thermography was developed that uses the application of a plastic powder, which adheres to the wet ink. The cards are then passed through a heating unit, which melts the plastic onto the card. Spot UV varnish onto matte laminate can also have a similar effect.
Full color cards, or cards that use many colors, are printed on sheetfed presses as well; however, they use the CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow, and black) four-color printing process. Screens of each color overprinted on one another create a wide gamut of color. The downside to this printing method is that screened colors if examined closely will reveal tiny dots, whereas spot color cards are printed solid in most cases. Spot colors should be used for simple cards with line art or non-black type that is smaller than 5 points.
Some terminology in reference to full-color printing:
- 4/0 - Full color front / No print on back
- 4/1 - full color front / One color on reverse
- 4/4 - full color front / Full color back
These names are pronounced as "four over zero," "four over one," and "four over four".
A business card can also be coated with a UV glossy coat (offset-uv printing). The coat is applied just like another ink using an additional unit on a sheetfedpress. That being said, UV coats can also be applied as a spot coating - meaning areas can be coated, and other areas can be left uncoated. This creates additional design potential. UV Coating is not to be confused with coated stock, which has a gloss or semi gloss finish that is applied before printing.
Business cards can also be printed with a digital copier, which uses toner fused onto the surface of the card, however many modern printing firms instead utilise high end "Digital Presses," now distinct from office copiers, which range from light production units such as the Bizhub 5500 from Konica Minolta, to state of the art units such as the latest HP Indigo Digital Presses.
While some of the older office copiers may have had problems running heavy business card stock, the newest digital presses can print on stock as heavy as 407 g/m2 (150# cover stock), and special substrates such as polypropylene. Available in both sheet-fed and web-fed models, many modern digital presses can emulate Pantone spot colors, print in up to seven colours in one pass, and some even contain embedded spectrophotometers and air-assisted feeding systems.
UV coats, and other coatings such as aqueous coatings are used to speed manufacturing of the cards. Cards that are not dry will "offset", i.e., the ink from the front of one card will mark up back of the next one. UV coatings are generally highly glossy but are more likely to fingerprint, while aqueous coatings are not noticeable but increase the life of the card. It is possible to use a dull aqueous coating on uncoated stock and get some very durable uncoated cards, and using UV coating or plastic lamination can also be applied to thicken thin stocked cards and make them more durable as well.
When cards are designed, they are given bleeds if color extends to the edge of the finished cut size. (A bleed is the extension of printed lines or colors beyond the line where the paper it is printed on will be cut.) This is to help ensure that the paper will cut without white edges due to very small differences in where the blade cuts the cards, and it is almost impossible to cut the cards properly without. Just being a hair off can result in white lines, and the blade itself will pull the paper while cutting. The image on the paper can also shift from page to page which is called a bounce, which is generally off by a hairline on an offset press, but can be quite large on lower end equipment such as a copier or a duplicator press. Bleeds are typically an extra 3.175 (1⁄8) to 6.35 mm (1⁄4 in) to all sides of the card.
- Bleed size: 95.25 × 57.15 mm (3.75 × 2.25 in) (1⁄8 in bleeds)
- Standard cut size: 89 × 51 mm (3.5 × 2 in)
- Bleed size: 91 × 61 mm (3.58 × 2.40 in)
- Standard cut size: 85 × 55 mm (3.35 × 2.17 in)
Fold-over or "tent" cards, and side fold cards are popular as well. Generally these cards will fold to the standard size.
Cards can also be printed with a different language on each side.
Aspect ratios range from 1.42 to 1.8. There is no standard for the business card dimensions. Sharing dimensions with other cards makes storage easier, for example banking cards (85.60 × 53.98 mm) and business cards in Western Europe (85 × 55 mm) have almost the same size.
|Country/Standard||Dimensions (mm)||Dimensions (in)||Aspect ratio|
|ISO 216, A8 sized||74 × 52||2.913 × 2.047||1.423|
|ISO 216, C8 sized||81 × 57||3.189 × 2.244||1.421|
|Ireland, Italy, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Austria, Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland, Belgium, Slovenia, Portugal, Turkey||85 × 55||3.346 × 2.165||1.545|
|ISO/IEC 7810 ID-1, credit card sized, Australia||85.60 × 53.98||3.370 × 2.125||1.586|
|Australia, Denmark, New Zealand, Norway, Taiwan, Sweden, Vietnam, India, Colombia||90 × 55||3.54 × 2.165||1.636|
|Japan||91 × 55||3.582 × 2.165||1.655|
|Hong Kong, China, Singapore, Malaysia||90 × 54||3.543 × 2.125||1.667|
|Canada, United States||88.9 × 50.8||3.5 × 2||1.75|
|Iran||85 × 48||3.346 × 1.889||1.771|
|Sri Lanka, Argentina, India, Brazil, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Croatia, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Israel, Kazakhstan, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Montenegro, Slovakia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Bulgaria, Latvia, Mexico, South Korea and South Africa||90 × 50||3.543 × 1.968||1.8|
|ISO 216, B8 sized||88 × 62||3.465 × 2.441||1.419|
A Japanese business card is called a meishi(名刺). It typically features the company name at the top in the largest print, followed by the job title and then the name of the individual. This information is written in Japanese characters on one side and often Latin characters on the reverse. Other important contact information is usually provided, such as business address, phone number and fax number. Meishi may also contain a QR code to provide contact details in a machine-readable form, but this has not yet become a widespread practice. According to a 2007 survey, fewer than 3% of Japanese people own a meishi with a QR code printed on it.
The presentation of one's meishi to another person is more formal and ritualistic than in the Western world. The card should be held at the top two corners, face up and turned so that it can be read by the person receiving the meishi, who takes it by the bottom two corners using both hands. Placing one's fingers over the name or other information is considered rude. Upon receiving the meishi, one is expected to read the card over, noting the person's name and rank. One should then thank the other person, saying "choudai itashimasu" ("I accept your name card") or "choudai shimasu", and then bow. When meishi are being exchanged between parties with different status, such as between the president of a company and someone in middle management, it is proper that the person of lower status extend his or her business card in such a way that it is underneath or below the meishi being extended by the person in a higher position.
Meishi should be kept in a smart leather case where they will not become warm or worn, both of which are considered a sign of disrespect or thoughtlessness. A received meishi should not be written on or placed in a pocket; it is considered proper to file the meishi at the rear of the leather case. If the meishi is being presented at a table, the recipient keeps the meishi on top of the leather case until they leave the table. If several people are involved in the meeting and one receives several meishi, the one with the highest rank is kept on the leather case, and the others beside it, on the table.
The manner in which the recipient treats the presenter's meishi is indicative of how the recipient will treat the presenter. Actions such as folding the card in half, or placing the presenter's meishi in one's back pocket, are regarded as insults.
Various technological advances made Compact Disc "business cards" possible, which could hold about 35 to 100 MB of data. These business card CDs may be square, round or oblong but are approximately the same size as a conventional business card. CD business cards are designed to fit within the 80 mm tray of a computer's CD-ROM drive. They are playable in most tray computer CD drives, but do not work in slot-loading drives. Despite the ability to include dynamic presentations and a great deal of data, these discs were never in common use as business cards, though they are still available.
With handheld computers and smartphones becoming more ubiquitous, business card data is increasingly exchanged electronically via direct wireless connections (e.g. infra-red, Bluetooth, RFID), SMS, specialized apps (e.g. Bump) or via a cloud service (e.g. licobo). Once again however, these new methods of transmitting business information have yet to completely replace the traditional physical business card.
Apart from common business cards made of paper/card there are also special business cards made from plastic (PVC), especially frosted translucent plastic, crystal clear plastic, white or metallic plastic. Other extraordinary materials are metal, rubberized cards, rubber, magnets, poker chips, wooden nickels, and even real wood. For the most part those special material business cards are of standard format, sometimes with rounded corners.
Business card software
Business cards can be mass-produced by a printshop or printed at home using business card software. Such software typically contains design, layout tools, and text editing tools for designing one's business cards. Most business card software integrates with other software (like mail clients or address books) to eliminate the need of entering contact data manually. Cards are usually printed on business card stock or saved in an electronic form and sent to a printshop. Multiple programs are available for users of Linux, macOS and Windows platforms.
In addition to business card software, many printing firms now offer a web-to-print service, which allows the customer to choose from a selection of stock design templates, customize online using their own logos and imagery, select quantities, view pricing options and request them for delivery to home or business addresses. Often this process is applied not only to business cards, but also to letterheads, notepads, labels and compliments slips.
There are several hundred known collectors of business cards, especially antique cards, celebrity cards, or cards made of unusual materials. One of the major business card collectors' clubs is the International Business Card Collectors, IBCC. IBCC members exchange cards with other members, simply for the price of postage.