The Most Comprehensive Business Card Design Guide
  by:  |  Aug 15, 2017

Why would you need a business card design guide? To create well-designed and professional business cards you have to consider a lot of factors. The ones you have to look at the most include concept, colors, typeface and fonts, images and shapes. Business cards may be small but designing them is not always easy.

business card design guide - basics

This business card design guide explains many of the core concepts for creating this marketing staple:


Your concept should be well-planned and detailed. Visualize what or how you want your business card to look. What specific audience are you targeting? How do you want these people to perceive your business?

Concept business cards

These questions bring us to the content of your business card designs. The content is the information that will be printed on your card. Include your complete name, position or title, phone, address, email address, and other relevant contact information.


You can go for the traditional paper or cardstock or alternatives such as plastic, wood, metal or magnetic stock. If you plan to use an unconventional material, it’s advisable to go for something relevant to your business. For example, you may use a wood-like stock if you are in construction or interior design-related business. These modern materials may cost more, but can leave a stronger first impression.

business card design guide business cards materials

You have to consider the quality of materials when selecting specs for your business cards. Thick cardstock tends to be more durable than thinner ones. Thicker cardstock also tends to feel better, making them more effective for creating positive impressions on recipients. A study on haptic sensations has found heavier objects positively influence decisions, which is worth keeping in mind when printing anything meant to be handed out.

The choice of coatings and finishes also creates an impact on your design. Glossy coatings tend to bring out colors, but they also feel less pleasant compared to matte or uncoated stock. Matte and uncoated stocks tend to have more subdued colors but also tend to feel better on our fingertips. Choose whichever fits your design and goals the best.


Another aspect of business card design is choosing the right colors. The colors you pick should be relevant to your brand. If you’re placing a logo on your card, make sure that other colors you choose go well with it.

business card design guide colors and emotions

The color mode you use for printing is also important. Colors on your design will appear differently on your screen than it will on paper. This is because most monitors and other electronic devices use RGB for a better range of colors on a dark screen, and most printers use CMYK for better contrast on white or light-colored paper. Read How to Get Your Image File Print-Ready to learn how to change your color settings and get your project ready to print.

Business card design guide for colors.

Each color conveys different meaning and effect on your customers. Color choices must reflect the nature of your business and how you want your brand to appear to your target market. Below is a list of colors and corresponding meanings that can help you decide on your design colors.

white barWhite is a positive color which is often associated with purity, innocence, goodness, sincerity, softness and perfection. It reflects growth, creativity and openness.

Positive meanings of white in business:

  • Cleanliness
  • Innocence
  • Goodness
  • Calmness
  • Simplicity
  • Efficiency

Too much white can mean:

  • Emptiness
  • Dullness

It’s important to note that white space is important in designing because it balances out colors and patterns.


Black denotes authority, control and power. Sometimes, it also creates an air of mystery and secrecy.

Positive connotations of black in business:

  • Authority
  • Formality
  • Sophistication

Too much black can mean:

  • Depression
  • Control
  • Withholding
  • Sadness

blue shades

Blue is a versatile color and can be used in many businesses and professions. Darker shades are more serious than lighter tints. However, blue is not advisable for food-related businesses because since blue tends to trigger a primal response that reduces our appetites.

Positive meanings of blue in business:

  • Honesty
  • Responsibility
  • Reliability
  • Tranquility

red meaning

Red catches attention. It connotes action and it stimulates senses. It’s a bold choice as a business card base color but will most likely stand out among a set of cards.

Positive meanings of red in business:

  • Passion
  • Action
  • Confidence

Too much red can mean:

  • Anger
  • Danger
  • Aggression

green shaddes

Green usually stands for nature and health.

Positive meaning of green in business:

  • Environment- friendliness
  • Wealth
  • Growth
  • Emotional Balance

orange shades

Orange attracts a lot of positive responses. It is often associated with optimism and cheerfulness.

Positive meanings of Orange in business:

  • Adventure
  • Spontaneity
  • Affordability


Yellow reflects positivity. It stimulates enthusiasm, logic, and playfulness and is ideal for businesses related to children. It also stimulates decision making and communicating, thus advisable for networkers and entertainers.

Positive meanings of Yellow in business:

  • Eagerness
  • Interest
  • Spirit

Too much use of yellow may denote:

  • Anxiety
  • Criticism

Font and Typefaces

Let’s get a few technicalities out of the way. A typeface is the actual style or ‘style family’ of a letter. From a design perspective, it is the most important feature of a text. A font is the specific variant within a typeface. It refers to letter size, weight, special styling such as bold and italic. Even the user interfaces for most design and word processor apps get this wrong and this often leads to both terms being used interchangeably.

typeface for business cards

Taken together, the choices of typefaces and fonts are crucial for effective branding. Each typeface and font choice has a character and associated symbolism. Choosing the right one helps deliver the right message to your market. In choosing the typefaces and fonts for your card, keep in mind the type of industry you are in, as well as the brand you are trying to send out.

Business card design guide for fonts and typefaces

As a printing company, we’ve worked with thousands of designs; and we can say that there is no ultimate rule in creating your business card designs. However, here are font style tips that our design team thinks work well with these small prints:

  • Choose easy-to-read fonts. It’s good to start working with sans-serif and serif fonts as text styles (Arial, Times New Roman or Helvetica). Sans-serif fonts are normally used for a person’s name and/or company name; serif styles are used for contact details. You can also use them interchangeably, whichever works for your business card design. If you have other marketing tools, it’s ideal to use the same styles across all your materials.

Fonts for business cards

  • Use only up to two font types. Emphasize your company name or the card holder’s name by using a different font style. However, limit your text styles up to only two fonts to make your design uniform and neat.
  • Use power fonts. This is optional, but you may use power fonts to make your company name stand out. Here are some power fonts that you can start working with:

Power fonts for business cards

Business cards design design guide for font size

Keep in mind that not everyone has a perfect vision. Don’t use text sizes smaller than 7 pt. for details. Don’t blow up the business name’s font size either. Keep design elements in proportion.

Check these other key guidelines in designing font sizes for your cards:

  • Title should generally be the same size as your address or 1 pt. smaller.
  • Name should be 1 pt. larger than the other text in your business cards.
  • Name should be no larger than 11 pt.
  • Address should not be smaller than 7 pt. Smaller than this point will be hard to read.
  • Use the same font size for the same group of information. Changing text sizes can make your design messy.

Images and Patterns

You don’t always need an image for your business cards, apart from your logo. But if you do choose to use an image, keep the position and overall balance of your card in mind. This can be especially critical if you choose a die-cut or shaped business card.

Patterns and images for business cards

Patterns are often easier to incorporate in business card designs than images, but like the colors and typeface you use, they should also be a good fit for both your brand and the specific image you want to project.


Speaking of die-cut business cards, custom shapes can be used to add interest to your cards. Die-cut business cards are less common and can grab more attention compared to standard 2” x 3.5” cards. If you have a logo in a specific shape such as a circle, square, or oval for instance, you can create business cards that closely match them for more impact.

shapes for business cards

Since we’re so accustomed to regular business cards, it can be sometimes hard to visualize the real size of a shaped card, even if we’re given specific sizes. Standard square cards, for example, can seem substantially smaller than regular cards. You can use a ruler to draft a shaped card on a piece of cardstock or paper before you order to give you a better idea of the final size of your shaped business cards.


Your options are almost endless when it comes to choosing the size of your business card. You can go for standard or custom dimensions. However, thanks to practical limitations, they typically can’t be very large. At the end of the day, business cards are still smaller than flyers or brochures.

business card design guide International Business Card sizes

Keeping this in mind, avoid cluttering your design with unnecessary information and design details. Another thing to consider is your distribution process. Oversized cards may be harder for your clients to keep. If you feel that you have a lot more to say, consider creating a different print material to supplement your business cards, rather than overloading the small space you have to work with.

Have fun creating your cards and remember to keep the layout in line with your brand and other marketing tools.

What else will you add to this business card design guide? Comment below