Business Card: Planning and executing

Exchanging business cards has been a common business protocol for decades. But as basic as they are, business cards require a little production planning in order to get them done right.

In this section, we’ll cover the critical planning stages for producing the more common types of business cards.

The planning issues unique to business cards are discussed here in the order that they might be considered by the communications, design and printing professionals working on them. This section is designed to complement the overview provided in the Planning Basics section. To get the most from this guide, we recommend that you review that section first.

In this discussion of production planning, we have identified 6 common types of business cards, distinguished by the printing or specialty graphics processes used to produce them – litho, engraved, thermography, litho/foil stamped, litho/emboss, tent card.


1.1 Develop project strategy

Business cards should be thought of as functional promotional tools. Here are some key issues to consider when developing effective business cards.

Size. The standard business card size is 31/2″ x 2″, which fits into most wallets and business card holders. This is not to say that business cards cannot be produced in larger or smaller sizes. However, always consider whether the non-standard size is practical for everyday use.

Information. Business cards are a way to connect with people. Pertinent contact information typically includes name, title, phone, fax, pager number, e-mail, web site and mailing address. If any of the information will change in the near future, consider printing enough cards with all the contact information in 1/color [to save money] to last you until the new information is available. At the same time, consider printing business card “shells.” These are cards with only the company logo printed on them. All you’ll need to do is imprint the new information on the shells to match the look of the original cards.

tip> Will there be an area code change in the near future? Business card “shells” enable you to imprint new phone numbers without the expense of reprinting the entire card.

Business cards: part of a whole

Think about the letterhead and envelope design while creating the business cards. The look for all three correspondence components are generally considered to be a family and are often consistent in look. When determining which paper to specify, see if matching envelopes are available, as well as writing weight for letterhead, and cover weight for business cards.


2.1 Develop project specifications

How many cards do you need? Don’t waste money by printing business cards you won’t use. Ask the people you’ll be producing cards for to give you a rough estimate on how many cards they use per year. Then you’ll know how much paper you’ll need to order based on the quantity they’ll actually use. Note that 500 is a typical run for business cards, and you may not save anything by ordering fewer than this.

Decide what kind of impression you want to make. Based on the image that you want to project, determine how basic or elaborate you want your cards to be. The least expensive and most basic option is to have the cards printed offset. For a little more money and panache, people are increasingly choosing thermography, which simulates the look of engraving. Or, you may want to spring for engraving, a process that delivers unparalleled elegance, but is more costly and usually requires a specialty printer. Other design techniques that can make a striking first impression include the use of special finishing processes such as foil stamping and embossing.

2.2 Establish your delivery date

2.3 Get a ballpark quote

The vendor selection process may take place now or during Stage 4. If contemplating various printing techniques for business cards, obtain a ballpark quote early in the process to help with cost comparisons.

2.4 Establish your budget


3.1 Develop the design

Aside from including complete contact information and maintaining graphic and tactile consistency with the company’s identity, here are some ideas to consider when creating an effective business card.

Focal point. People from the Western Hemisphere tend to read left to right, top to bottom. This makes the eye travel just above the center of the card, otherwise known as the focal point. This is often where the logo is placed, although it is by no means always the case. Wherever it may be, the focal point is also a good opportunity to use engraving, thermography, foil stamping or embossing. The rest of the contact information, and sometimes a corporate slogan, are placed in an easy-to-read position that visually connects with and supports the focal point of the card.

Watch the bottom. When designing a business card, take into consideration that cards sometimes get punched and placed in a card file, thus potentially cutting off any important information that is placed too close to the bottom of the card.

The back of the card. The front side of the card is where all the main contact information is placed. But what about the back? That blank space on the back of the card is a great opportunity to incorporate information that wouldn’t fit on the front, such as corporate slogan, mission statement, or key words that describe the product or service. However, printing on both sides of the cards takes a little more time. It requires two passes through the printing press, and inks have to dry between each run, which slows down the process. If the card is embossed, consider the deboss impression on the back of the card.

3.2 Obtain preliminary design approval


4.1 Locate appropriate vendors for your job
This selection process will be driven by the method of printing. If engraving or another specialty graphics process will be used, it’s best from cost and timing perspectives to identify printers who can perform this work in-house.

4.2 Obtain a formal estimate

4.3 Select the best vendor for the job

4.4 Develop your production schedule

Once the printer has been selected, it’s time to develop a production schedule for the job. Ask the printer for a copy of their schedule, and add the other key steps leading up to the printer’s involvement.


Hold a production meeting

Even though business cards are usually fairly basic, it’s still important for designer and printer to talk about the particulars of the job. The selection of paper is one of the most critical issues, especially if the same line of paper is being used for letterhead and envelopes. Paper is equally critical if a specialty process, such as thermography, embossing or foil stamping will be used. Not all paper is suited to these processes.

If you’re creating a tent-fold business card, make sure the printer is planning to score and fold the card. Most printers can handle this task in-house and will do it automatically, but double-check before you make assumptions.


6.1 Have the job approved by client

6.2 Get the job proofread

Printers report that clients often have to reprint cards due to mistakes that could have been caught with adequate proofreading. After you’re done double-checking the proofs, pass them along to the people you’re printing the cards for to ensure that their names are spelled properly and their contact information is accurate. Ask them to initial the proof once they have looked at it.

If there are changes to be made, write any corrections on the proof in a different, distinguishable color. Circle any errors, and write your changes out clearly, to avoid further mistakes. People often try to squeeze edits into a small space, thus making changes difficult for the printer to read.


7.1 Conduct a thorough press check

Due to the basic nature of business cards, press checks often aren’t performed for business cards. If you want to be on press with your job, be sure to let your vendor know as early as possible.


8.1 Inspect the job

When checking business cards, make sure trimming has been done accurately. Randomly select sample cards and measure them.

8.2 What to do when things go wrong

See page 25 in the Planning Basics section for information on this stage of the production process. You may wish to review the tips on inspection of a completed job for guidelines on what to do if there are problems.


9.1 Reconfirm shipping

Provide shipping instructions to your printer early on with detailed    m information about each location receiving shipments. It’s also a good idea to ask the printer to tape a sample of the cards on the outside of the box so the person receiving them will know what’s inside. This is especially important if there are more than one person’s business cards enclosed in the package. This will avoid the aggravation of searching through boxes trying to find each person’s cards.

9.2 Have samples delivered

9.3 Notify receiving party of job’s arrival

Find out from the printer about the estimated time of arrival of the cards. This allows you to call ahead and alert the troops to keep an eye out for the delivery. It’s also a good idea to get the tracking numbers and the courier phone numbers as a backup.

(From 2001 Via basics Planning Guide)

Filed Under: Business CardPLANNING GUIDEPRINT


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  1. Aliya Creed says:

    Nice Blog. Every one must Possess a Business Card. Since it is the identity and tells People about your professionalism in the industry.

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