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Best Business Card Design Practices

written by: Haley Montgomery•edited by: Daniel P. McGoldrick•updated: 6/4/2010

This article offers quick desktop publishing principles for designing business cards. Even non-professional designers can implement these tips to make their business cards more successful. It is part four of a series highlighting graphic design tips and helpful guidance.

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    Ten Desktop Publishing Business Card Design Tips

    In part four of this series on design best practices for desktop publishers, we review some tips for designing effective business cards. Here are ten considerations for designing successful business card projects.

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    Remember the purpose.

    The primary purpose of a business card is to showcase a name and personal contact information. Don't allow the design to overpower or distract from that information.

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    Set the tone.

    The tone of the business card design takes its cue from the person, business or organization is represents. Whether the business card is for an artist, a banker, a company president or a welder, the look of the business card should reflect its owner and the services they provide.

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    Create consistency.

    A business card is often a hand-held representation of a personal or corporate brand. As with all brand images, consistency is the key to name and logo recognition. Consistent use of logos, fonts and imagery in all marketing materials is important.

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    Avoid getting lost in storage.

    When designing the business card, remember how recipients typically store them. Your design will often sit in a rolodex, business card holder or the pocket of a planner or notebook. Design with that in mind. Horizontal formats are usually preferable for the storage types mentioned. Be sure the top third of the card is eye-catching and gives a clue to who the card represents. In addition, all personal contact information should be on the front of the card so the recipient will not have to flip back and forth to find needed information.

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    Consider paper color and texture.

    Because business cards have a consistent size and people collect so many of them, making the design stand out from the crowd is important. Paper color and texture can help. Textured papers also provide a unique tactile experience for the holder that can help the card stand out.

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    Indicate contact preferences.

    Business cards often have multiple addresses and phone numbers for the person they represent. With work, office and cell phone numbers, multiple business locations and such, it can be difficult for the recipient to know where to call first. Use design elements and placement to indicate the business card owner's contact preference. It can be highlighted by a graphic icon or special color, or consider placing the preferred number under the name on the card.

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    Take advantage of the flip side.

    Although it's always a good idea to keep the person's name and their contact information all on the same side of the business card, the flip side can be valuable real estate for communicating a marketing message. Take advantage of the fact that someone is holding the company logo in his hand and creatively present the company mission or services on the back of the business card.

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    Use color for distinction.

    Use color and design arrangement to make the business card design stand out from others in the rolodex. Solid background colors can be an effective method as long as they don't impede readability. Bands of color that bleed off the top of the card can help the recipient find it quickly. Color areas in light tint percentages can also highlight contact information.

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    Review printing requirements.

    Business cards are a standard 3 x 2 1/2" size, but depending on how they are printed, other specifications can vary. Check with your printer to find out if color bleeds are acceptable, any minimum size for type and how close information can be to the crop lines.

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    Proofread. Proofread. Proofread.

    Double check phone numbers, fax numbers, addresses, website urls and any other contact information. Also, check the preferred presentation of the name. Print the business card at actual size to check its readability. Use the spellcheck feature available in desktop publishing software to catch any overlooked errors.

Design Best Practices for Desktop Publishing

Easy to implement design tips that can make your desktop publishing projects more effective.
  1. Desktop Publishing Tips and Principles of Design Basics
  2. Best Practices: Tips for Creating Newspaper Ads
  3. 10 Basic Graphic Design Principles for Tri-Fold Brochures
  4. Best Business Card Design Practices