Business Card Design: 101

In this free post, I wanted to go over the basics or key elements of designing a business card.

After I graduated college in 1993 with a BFA in Graphic Design, I worked for a small 2-person design firm and my first job was to design a business card for a new client. I was so nervous and freaked out, I totally over thought it. Stressed me out to the point I forgot to have fun in learning this new process.

So if you get stuck or freaked out or just need to talk through the steps, please be sure to ask me. I will be as helpful as much as I am able.

So to get started, remember that these are just the basics.

A business card in some cases is the most important marketing piece that a company will have. It has the potential to make or break business deals and is just as important as the way you present yourself during a first impression. In this post, we will cover some of the basics such as typography, layout, object placement, and printing standards when designing a business card.

Printing Standards

Before you move too far into a fresh design, printing standards should always be considered. Most printing companies now require files to have appropriate bleeds and margins or you might get an email to upload new files and in some cases, incur extra fees. To correctly set up your design, you need to create a template in Adobe Illustrator or InDesign (or Word, but that might be a whole new can of worms being that I am Mac all the way and Adobe software).

There are two ways to establish what type of template you are going to use, and that is whether you are going to have an image bleed or not. Bleed is the area in which an image runs off the edge of your design. If your image doesn’t bleed then your job just got a little easier. Use a 3.5x2 document. If you are using bleeds, then make sure your template is set up with a minimum of 1⁄8” margin outside the printable area. You can download a sample template from Google.


Using typography in business card design is critical to having a great looking business card. Limit the number of fonts that you use. Too many type styles can really get confusing. On top of that, it could just be downright ugly. Use a font that compliments the logo or other elements on the card. My rule of thumb is never more than two fonts – even if that requires matching one of the fonts from the logo. There are many people who make entire careers as a Typographer, so keep in mind its importance.

Layout and Object Placement

Don’t clutter your business card design. Always remember that there is a backside available to print. If your client gives you a laundry list of information that they want on their card, then create a couple of different areas of text on the front, usually the contact info, and keep the extraneous text to the backside.

Logo placement can be a critical point in the overall design. As a designer, use your judgment as to how much space you want the logo to take. Maybe it’s an awesome logo and it needs an entire side of the card. When I start with a business card design, I usually start with 5-10 different layouts and narrow them down as the design moves forward.

Don’t forget that a business card is a point of contact, not a brochure. It could single-handedly be the most important marketing piece for some companies. The object is to leave a lasting impression and create a feeling of class and trust.

Thanks for taking the time to read my post. I hope that it will benefit you on your next business card design. If you’re looking for some great business card inspiration, then check out Creattica for some awesome business card examples.

Message me if you have any questions, I look forward to hearing from you!