At first glance, designing a business card seems an easy enough task to complete as we’re only dealing with a relatively small piece of artwork however, it does need a little thought beforehand to get the results you are hoping for. A person’s business card needs to offer a positive reflection of their business. A smart, professional-looking card, printed on quality material says a lot about your company and gives the holder that extra confidence often needed at an initial sales meeting.
There are so many software packages available these days to make your task possible from semi-pro software such as: Publisher®, Word® etc. up to the high end offerings such as In-Design®, QuarkXpress®, Illustrator® & Photoshop® etc.
Whichever package you use there are certain points that must be considered before starting the work.
I would say the most important point to consider is using suitable hi-res graphics, (logos, trade logos etc.). If your artwork is pixel based, e.g. .tiff, .jpeg then ensure it is at least 300 dpi at actual size to be used.
Getting started with how to design a business card
(1). Start by setting your workspace to A4 or A5 and drawing a box with a thin outline. (e.g. 0.5 point). ®
Our Standard card size is 85mm x 55mm. (Landscape or portrait).
Our Laminated cards are 88mm x 55mm. (Landscape or portrait).
(2). Turn on rulers in your design package (often Ctrl. R), and set the top left hand corner to: x = 0, y = 0. This will help you to position the margin guides.
Note: you could set your workspace to 85mm x 55mm, but I think it’s easier to visualise the finished card by viewing it on a larger sheet, so the card outline is showing.
(3). Next, set up your margin guides, preferably at 5mm. If you have very little info to go on the card, then consider using larger margins.
Before we go any further, you may have heard the term ‘bleeds‘ when reading about print files. The term is easy to understand and shouldn’t cause you any problems.
(4). Back to our card. We are now ready to add the logo (if required) and content. In this instance, we don’t need to worry about bleeds, so everything is kept to our 5mm margin.
(5). Now hide the guides to get a better idea of the finished card.
Note: the outline of the card has been left in for clarity, but this would be removed before printing.
Submitting for print
Unless you are using a professional print package, it’s probably best to let us do the final layout of the card as depending on certain circumstances, we’d need to decide how many cards to ‘plan-up’.
At this stage, you could simply leave the card as above, with the outline showing, and make a pdf of the design and email this file across.
Converting fonts to outlines (Adobe In-Design/Illustrator)
One final task is to Convert Text to Outlines. If you’re not sure how to do this, just check out this easy-to-follow tutorial: Converting Text to Outlines
If you’re using a program such as Adobe In-Design, or Illustrator it is recommended you convert all text to outlines. This effectively removes the need for you to supply any fonts you’ve used.
Apart from the legal aspect, if you’ve just spent a lot of money on some real nice designer fonts, you won’t be wanting to send them out for free!
Converting fonts to outlines effectively makes the text non-editable as all the characters in the typeface become single small graphics. Before you proceed to convert to outlines, it might be worth saving the file under a different name as a backup, because once outlines have been created the text no longer becomes editable.
With all text now converted we then proceed to make a pdf of the file.
If you would like to know how cards are ‘planned’ for printing, then the following shows how it is normally done.
Planning your cards
Please Note: This step is not necessary when sending in a file for printing, as most printers will prefer to do this step themselves. It’s really just to show what happens to your card at ‘the other end’.
Firstly, remove the stroke (visible outline of the card). Then a copy of the card is made and positioned exactly next to the original. i.e. 85mm from the x = 0 co-ordinate. In a pro print package you would use the step-and-repeat command.
We then select both cards and do an exact copy 55mm down from the y = 0 co-ordinate.
We now need to generate crop (or cut) marks that will enable the guillotine operator to accurately cut the cards. Again, a pro package will allow you to do this automatically. (please see below re: registration).
IMPORTANT: Crop marks use a special colour called ‘registration’.
This colour is recognised by an imagesetter (the device that produces film and/or plates for the printing press) and is automatically output on all colour plates. The press operator overlays one set of registration marks over the next colour set to accurately align the plates.
It is recommended the colour ‘registration’ is not used for anything other than registration marks/crop marks etc.
Layout as above, but with bleed
Allowing for a bleed is only slightly more complicated as we need to use ‘gutters’.
I will leave the card outlines showing to explain the process easier.
We do the step-and-repeat as before but we need to allow an extra 5mm for the gutter. (see below).
Next: showing guttered cards with final crop marks. Again, outlines are shown for clarity.
If you want to do your own planning of cards then I would definitely recommend you check with your printer as many of them, even with non-bleed cards still require a gutter. This could be 3mm or 5mm, or none at all so it’s worth a phone call.
If crop marks, bleeds, gutters etc. are boring you senseless then don’t despair, just send us a card layout as below (please leave the card outline showing) and we can take care of the layout.
The previous examples show a 4-up card layout whereas there are many occasions where we would actually use a 4, 6, 8, 10 or even a 20 card layout, depending on the number of names, quantity of cards etc.
We hope the above helps and you found our How to Design a Business Card tutorial informative.
However, if any points need clarification or you just need a little help please don’t hesitate to contact us on:
01202 736979 (or using the link below), and we’ll do our best to assist.