Designing an Effective Business Card
Here are some tips to help you create better, more effective business cards.
Information to include
The fonts you use should project professionalism, so stick with standard fonts such as Times New Roman, which is very traditional, or Helvetica/Arial, which is clean and modern. There are lots of other similar fonts available as well.
Avoid unusual or artsy fonts. They may make your card look funky to you, but potential employers might not find them appealing.
Some fonts tend to print smaller in the same point size than others. The font Copperplate for example will look like 6 point while set in 7 point. Keep this in mind while testing your card.
Use a single font family throughout your card. Mixing fonts makes you look disorganized and unprofessional. Within a single font family, you are free to use different sizes, bold, underline and italic styles.
Your name should ideally be in 12 point type. We suggest using boldface for your name to help it stand out from everything else. Normally, your business card would be set up so your title would be the same point size as your address details or even 1 point smaller. For job search, your title defines what type of position you are seeking, so it’s more important than ever. Make your title smaller than your name, but no less than 10 points.
Your address and phone/email information should be no smaller than 6 points. Anything below this will be hard to read. A good target for most body text is to use 7 to 8 point.
Unless you are going to have your cards professionally printed, avoid having borders close to the edges of the card or graphics that go up to the edges.
A clean simple background is probably the best. Dark coloured text, printed on white or light coloured stock is more readable than white text printed on a dark background.
Avoid cluttering the face of the card with too much information. It will no longer be inviting to read and does not look professional.
Develop a one-line slogan
If what you do isn’t immediately apparent from your business name, create a one-line slogan that will help people remember what you sell. Include the slogan on your business card.
Make your card readable
Use (or insist your designer uses) font sizes that are big enough to be easily readable without using a magnifying glass. Be sure the type color stands out against the background of the card, too. Light gray type on a white card makes it hard to distinguish letters and numbers. Remember, your goal isn’t to produce a work of art. It’s to produce a business card that clearly communicates what you do and how to reach you. If recipients can’t read the contact information you’ll lose sales.
One Side or Two Sides?
In most cases, printing all your information on one side of a card will be sufficient. This leaves the back of the card clear so people can make notes as you speak with them.
If you have particular skills you want to highlight or promote, you can list these on the back side of the card. This helps you avoid having a front side that is cluttered with information, However, still try to leave room for note-taking.
Printing a second side can add a small premium to the cost of having your card printed, but usually not much. You also can purchase print-it-yourself card stock that can be printed both sides to experiment with layouts until you are satisfied enough to have them printed professionally.
Make your card stand out from the rest of the pack
Yes, your business card may wind up stuffed in a desk drawer with a stack of other business cards. Make it stand out from the rest by using bright colors, including your photo on the card, or using high gloss card stock.
Have your business cards printed on good card-stock
If the card feels flimsy or looks like you printed it yourself on a cheap printer, it will leave people with impression that they are dealing with a small company that will disappear as soon as the owner finds a real job. Have your business card professionally printed on good heavyweight business card stock.
Although some of the preprinted paper that you can buy to create your own business cards is heavy enough to pass for a “real” business card, most people will get better results by having their business cards professionally typeset and printed. Professionally printed cards may cost less than the print-it-yourself variety, too. If you order business cards online from a site like Vista Print, you’ll pay about $20 (or sometimes less) for 500 full-color professionally printed business cards. (Shipping is extra.) By comparison, good, heavy-weight preprinted business card stock that you use to print your own business cards is likely to cost you $30 to $40 or more — and that doesn’t include the cost of the ink or toner to print them.
Be careful about high gloss coatings.
High-gloss coatings can add brilliance to your card that helps it stand out from all the rest, but they can create problems as well.
The very high-gloss coatings used by printers are UV cured and usually contain waxes or silicones that can make it difficult for someone to write notes on your card. The more common gloss coating that most printers use is water-based and can be written on.
Advice for high gloss coatings is to use them on the front side only and leave the back side uncoated or coated with the normal grade of coating so people can take notes. Another alternative is to use a high gloss coating only on select areas of your card – e.g., a logo or your name. The contrast between high gloss and little or no gloss helps make these elements stand out, though expect to pay a premium for this type of treatment.
Print your own cards if you don’t have time to order them elsewhere
If you need cards in a hurry because you’ve run out of them, the print-it-yourself variety is a viable option. Avery’s Linen Textured Stock has a good feel to it and prints beautifully on an inkjet printer. For best results, use the “Best” printing mode of your inkjet printer. If you follow Avery’s directions for separating the cards, there are no tell-tale rough edges or perforations.
The most important element on business cards are text sizes. If your text is too small, clients might struggle to read information on the cards. There should be a visual balance between the size and position of the address and the name and title.
Be sure to print your business card a couple of times while designing it. If printing on standard sized copy paper, take some effort to cut away the rest of the paper to see if the layout balances well.
Here is an example to illustrate some of the principles we’ve set forth:
Our next post will show you some examples of business card designs to give you a better idea of the creative scope you have.