The right dimensions
How big should a business card be and what is the best shape for a business card? Nowadays it’s okay to stray from the same old same old as far as that traditional rectangular shape. Business cards today often do take a walk on the wild side, in a manner of speaking. Get adventurous. Be bold. This is what you give someone by way of a “keepsake” of you; so how do you want them to remember you? Here we offer a business card size guide.
As noted, cards of this nature do not have to be boring. Let me repeat: a business card doesn’t have to be boring. It is an expression of you. It should ideally show that you put some time and thought into all aspects of your card. So why not make it uniquely you.
What is the ideal business card size?
Let’s look at the standard stats first as far as the business card size guide benchmark. Typically, what you will most often see is a card that aligns with the following as far as US sizes:
- Business card size: 3.5” x 2”
- Business card size in mm: 88.9 x 50.8 mm
- Business card size as far as pixels: 1050 px x 600 px
In Europe and the UK sizes different slightly for a standard business card:
- Business card size inches: 3.346” x 2.165”
- Business card size in mm: 85 x 55 mm
- Business card size as far as pixels: 1004 px x 650 px
Pretty basic. The other consideration here as far as the overall size and feel is the thickness of the card. Thicknesses do range and depend upon the type of paper chosen for your card. For example, a lighter weight card, say around 13 pt (or 0.013”), is often used primarily for display purposes. They can be a bit flimsy and are prone to bend and wrinkle. Whereas, if you opt for a heavier weight paper, say around 30 pt (or 0.030”), now this is the type of card that is apt to be around longer and thus make a more solid impression.
Also, the finish of the paper is important. That is to say, you will have some decisions to make regarding whether or not you want the card uncoated: much like that which comes out of the printer—more of a “paper” feel, or coated: containing a form of sealant that helps to protect the business card from damage. And in choosing a coating, do you opt for a matte or more glossy finish.
All of this really is going to be dependent on your budget, the main purpose of the card, as well as your personal preference. What do you want your business card to say about you? How do you envision it reflecting you as a professional? Our business card size guide is here to help!
Certainly, there is nothing wrong with going with a standard size and/or weight it comes to your business card. The key really is going to be the design of said card. It can be as large or small as you choose, thick or thinner, vertical or horizontal, differently shaped or rectangular and yet, if the design of the business card falls flat, ultimately it will make an underwhelming impression.
When it comes to the design itself, the easiest way to go is to start with a professionally created template and then adjust accordingly. This way too you know that the margins are perfectly laid out.
A template will account for bleeding and safety margins so that your design is optimally displayed. As you set about choosing the template that “speaks to you” and consequently figuring out how to customize it for your personal needs, consider the following:
Should You Round the Corners of the Card?
Here is one design aspect that often gets much debate…perhaps a little too much at times. But some people just feel downright passionate about their business card corners—go figure. All kidding aside, it is an important aspect and a detail that you should put some thought into. To round or not to round that is the question…One of the benefits of opting for a rounded corner is that you do create a softer overall effect. And depending on your industry, this could work to your advantage. Additionally, while the squared off corner generally is the go-to choice, a round corner could help you to stand out from the pack.
The Benefits of the Square-Corner Business Card
How’s the saying go…If it ain’t broke don’t fix it. A standard rectangular card with standard corners has been working for decades. It is classic, and sometimes sticking with the classics can be a good thing. You really just want to make sure that the card—whatever style corner you may choose—complements you and your brand.
Business Card Orientation: Vertical or Horizontal
Yet another contentious debate on the business card front. More and more often we are seeing people design a business card which, bucking tradition, utilizes portrait over landscape format. So what’s the difference and why should it matter? With the vertical oriented business card design it tends to lend itself to more creative endeavors. That is to say, those firms looking for a hipper vibe, looking to be fresh and consequently demonstrate their willingness to think outside the typical business card box often go with portrait format.
Classic Landscape Business Card Sizes and Designs
Then of course, yet again you have the flip side of that coin which is the tried and true: the horizontal card. We regularly see more “traditional” businesses and firms utilizing this orientation. Again, either is totally acceptable as far as the realm of business card design goes. In the end, you want it to speak to your vocational essence.
Is Bigger Better with These Cards?
Earlier we discussed the standard US and European business card sizes, but is it acceptable to choose a slightly bigger size? Or for that matter, what if you went smaller? The reason the sizes stand where they stand is quite simple really: it fits neatly into a wallet. The original intent behind the design in some ways. You’re handing out cards and the person subsequently proceeds to put that card in his/her wallet. Couldn’t be a more perfect fit.
So why go bigger? In some instances, you may just need to add more info to the card than the standard space allows. A larger business card thereby lets you do this without the card seeming too cramped or overly stuffed. Also, if yours is a visual field, you might want to have the additional space to really highlight your work.
Should You Go Smaller with Your Card?
As mentioned, there is also the decision of whether or not to make the card a bit smaller than is traditional. The benefits as far as using a smaller business card…Certainly it will stand out from the “regular” cards. Plus, they do tend to cost a little less. So if you are just starting out in your professional life and yet want a lot of cards without necessarily having the budget for it, a small business card could be a good way to go.
The Overall Business Card Shape
Now here is where you definitely can have some fun if you so desire. As mentioned, the classic rectangular business card at that 3.5” x 2” size is a good choice. And some companies/professions really do lend themselves to sticking with this more classic card layout. However, going a bit unconventional and visiting some different shapes/styles as far as business card templates go, could be quite fun. Think square—these are becoming increasingly popular especially for instance among artists and photographers who want a more relevant card shape to show off their work. Round and oval cards also seem to be gaining some ground with those looking to make a splash. There are also shapes that cannot necessarily be categorized, but rather, are more random and fun. Look around at card templates, see what suits your style and determine if it makes the right impression for you.
Sticking with The Classic Card Shape
Then again, maybe you want to do more with the design itself and less with the shape of the card. After all, the size/shape does perfectly fit into a person’s wallet. Why mess with a formula that has taken hold in the world of business. If it works for you, then that really is all that matters.
Glossy or Matte: The Best Choice for Your Card
We talked briefly above about the finish of the card. Finish is actually quite important. If indeed you opt for a coating on your card, you will have a choice to make—do you want glossy or matte. With glossy cards there is a sheen to them. This in turn, tends to make the card pop a little more than perhaps it otherwise would. Glossy business cards are a hugely popular choice for this reason. Matte on the other hand lacks that “shine” factor.
Reasons to go with a Matte Finish
Even though matte cards may not have the sheen that glossy cards have, there are benefits to choosing a matte finish. Primarily, matte cards (even coated) are a bit easier to write on. And very often when handing out a business card, you do find the need to add a detail or write down an alternate number or email address. Something to consider…
How Much Color Should Your Card Have?
This is a great question! And unfortunately, one without a set answer. That is to say, honestly it is going to depend on how you want your business card to look in the end. And it’ll probably also depend upon your industry. For instance, if you’re an accountant, your card may not contain major splashes of color. On the other hand, if you’re a hair stylist or cosmetologist, a colorful card may work perfectly.
Color, without question, and how much (or little) you decide to use in the design of your business card is a pretty big consideration. Having a vivid and brightly colored card could help it to stand out. Not to mention, bright colors tend to make people smile, smile equals happy and happy equates to them fondly remembering you and your business.
Toning Down those Business Card Colors
Then again, too much color, or get too carried away with color and it could take away from the point of the card which is to convey pertinent information. It’s about striking that balance between presenting yourself in a dynamic and energetic way, be it via bold colors and/or innovative design, and still ensuring your information gets across in a clear and easy to read manner.
How Much “Stuff” Should Your Business Card Include?
So obviously you want to have the basics present on the card: name, contact info, what you do for a living. Some also include a logo. There are those who like to have a brief tagline on their business card. But where do you draw the line? How much is too much with a card of this nature? Remember, this isn’t your resume; this is simply a way to get people to remember who you are, and it gives them easy access as far as getting a hold of you in the future. Don’t overdo it. Because again, the point is that they quickly scan the card and identify the info they need in order to reach out to you.
Some Innovative Ideas for What to Include
There are people who like to get a little creative with the business card content. And if done right, it could really work to your advantage For example, as noted, some do include a brief snippet or tagline—this could help drill your brand into their brain so to speak. Some also add social media details. Depending on how broad a social media presence you have, this is where you might want to utilize both sides of the card…That’s the other thing a lot of people do—who says you have to stick to one side only. If you have more information you want to include, be bold and go the double sided route!
So long story short, as far as business card size, not to mention shape and overall look, what should you aim for? Again, there are a million guides out there that you can review and get ideas from, but in the end, it is all going to be about you and what you hope to achieve with your individualized business card.
There is no one size fits all approach here; however, the use of a template to start designing is a smart way to go—especially if you don’t necessarily have a huge budget to blow on cards. Templates are affordable and so easy to customize, thus making it a card design all your own. Plus, the templates also adhere to the guidelines as far as margins go so this way you don’t end up with a card that gets awkwardly cut off or one where things fail to line up as you’d hoped.
The main takeaways…have some fun with it, make sure it reflects your personality and profession, and don’t be afraid to play with the otherwise conventional business card “rules” from our very own business card size guide.