Designing a Business Card – Tips and Pitfalls

Designing a Business Card

Tips and Pitfalls

Contributed by Logan Rhea

Even though businesses have had to adapt to the digital age, the staple of a paper business card is hanging steady. If you don’t have a card that you can hand out to prospective partners or clients, a key marketing opportunity might be slipping by.

Now — although it’s still recommended that you invest in a designer — the average small business owner can go online and order a custom business card without the help of one. The problem with this method: so many things can go wrong with the final product. For instance, the weight of the card stock, incorporating cheesy clipart or imagery, using a standard templated design that doesn’t help you stand out from the crowd, straying away from your brand/identity, using poor quality logos, color matching, overloading your card with way too much information, the font or the text size is hard to read … and still, the list goes on.

So how do you design a business card yourself without being subject to the above pitfalls?

Here are a few tips:

01.  Remember the Basics

  • Figure out your specs. Most business cards are a standard 3.5in wide x 2in high
  • Orientation: cards now-a-days don’t have to be landscape style. Try switching it up and going for a portrait instead — this is a clean, modern look that’s become increasing popular over the past couple of years.
  • Keep your text / important information at a minimum of 0.5cm (5mm) away from the edge. I typically design with significantly more edge space, but that’s just a personal preference. You don’t want information being trimmed off and it’s just overall aesthetically unattractive and unnecessary (some exemptions apply) to have text / logos spanning the entire width of the card.
  • Design in CMYK (not RGB)
  • Use high-resolution logos (at least 300 dpi)

02. Fonts and Text Size

  • Keep text legible. 6pt is as small as I would recommend using
  • Use a font that is easy to read
  • Incorporate multiple fonts or weights (within reason of course)

03.  Colors

  • Your business card doesn’t have to be boring! Using color can help your card stand out among the crowd. Try using colors from your logo or colors that are compatible with your brand.

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  • Don’t use colors just for the sake of using color, however. Make sure you’re still conveying the message you want to get across in terms of your brand / identity. Black and white can be just as eye-catching. 

04. Finishes

  • Invest in high quality finishes like metallics or foils


  • Do you want a matte or a glossy card? Or maybe velvet, ohhhh… *insert wide-eyed emoji*
  • Try embossing or debossing your text — raised vs sunken (note: this can get tricky if you want your card to be double sided) 
  • Opt for a custom cut or shape

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  • Maybe foil isn’t your thing but you still want some pizzazz — try a spot gloss! This finish adds a bit of shine to a specific portion of your card.

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  • Card stock is important!!! Nobody likes a flimsy business card or paper that just isn’t durable. Remember, business cards were made to be shoved into wallets or pockets or desk drawers — they need to be able to take some abuse. 
  • Speaking of durability… did you know that even though most cards are paper, yours doesn’t have to be? Cards can also be made from plastic, wood or other unique materials.  Cool, right?

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  • You could even try a combination of the above! So many options, but let’s keep it classy. There is such a thing as too much of a good thing sometimes.