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The anatomy of a business card

Business cards are powerful tools. They can be conversation starters, they can be note pads, but most of all they are your first impression.

As you consider your next business card redesign it’s important to realize that, although a business card is a very simple document, there is more that goes into the layout than you would expect. A designer doesn’t ever make a choice “just because”, there should always be a calculated method to creating a successful layout.


Typically your logo will be included on your business card. This mark will help you make many decisions as you define the “mood” and overall look and feel of your business card layout. Is your logo playful or professional? It is bold or elegant? Whatever the personality, be sure to take it into consideration when designing your card.

Font Choice

Choosing a font can be an overwhelming choice. Do you want serif or san-serif? Bold or thin? Consider the look you’re going for, but also consider what is most readable at a small size. San-serif fonts are typically easier to read at smaller sizes and provide a cleaner look. On the other hand, serif fonts have a more professional appearance and can be used to compliment certain logos. The rule of thumb is choose no more than two fonts to use on your card — and even two can be one too many. If you choose two, be sure they compliment each other –meaning don’t choose two fonts from the same family. Also be sure to use one for headings (such as your name and title) and one for additional copy (such as your phone number and email). If you choose to stick with one font throughout, you can emphasis headlines and copy by using font styles such as bold and italic.


White Space

White space is the secret to making your card look professional. Cluttering your card up with too much text and graphics will lead to a poor result. A well-designed card offers breathing room around the text and graphics. Not only will whitespace help create an upscale look, it also allows your card to be easily read and gives you space to jot down a few notes right on the card — we all do it!

Other graphics

Typically you don’t want to overload your business card with and graphic elements other than your logo and type, but in order to make your card stand out, a tasteful graphic treatment or effect can be considered. Perhaps you use the back of the card to let your personality shine? Our own GreenMellen cards showcase our logo on the back and highlight contact information with plenty of whitespace on the front.

Finishing Effects

When it’s time to print your card, you will be presented with even more choices! Gloss or matte? Think or thin? Your printer can help you make those choices, but do keep in mind you cannot write very well on a gloss coated card. If you do want a gloss effect, be sure to leave the back of your card matte to ensure you have an area to scribble if needed.

Now it’s time to take a good look at your business card. What does it say about you? Is it easy to read or is it overly cluttered? Have you limited yourself to just a couple fonts? Remember this small piece of paper is your first impression and you don’t want it going directly in the bottom of someone’s junk drawer!


About the Author

Ali Green

Co-Founder and Creative Director
Schooled in both design and marketing, Ali adds the analytical skills of an engineer to complicated digital marketing strategies.

View Ali's Profile

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