1. Choose your size. 
  2. Add your logo and other graphics.
  3. Add necessary text.
  4. Choose your typography.
  5. Consider special finishes.
  6. Embed your text and images.
  7. Save your file in print-ready PDF format.

Before We Get Started

Whether you’re an individual freelancer, founder of a startup, or part of an established enterprise, there are two crucial design components you need finalised before you even begin thinking of business cards:

  • The finished logo
  • Your brand’s colour scheme

Logos and colour schemes are the two most important visual choices for branding. Not only will these elements play a big part in creating your business card, they’ll also help influence other areas like layout and identity.

There’s one other preliminary activity that makes the rest of the business card design process run more smoothly. You need to know what you want to communicate. What kind of brand are you, as an individual or business? What do you want your business card to say, not just with words, but with the design? These are questions you need to have the answer to before you get started.

Firstly, Let’s Get The Basics Right

Before we take our drawings into Illustrator we need to define some basic parameters to avoid mistakes and further corrections when we take our design to the printer.

First you should set the file colour mode and there are two options: RGB or CMYK. As our project is for printing purposes we will select CMYK.

We are going to create the usual rectangular business card which is the standard for a reason: it fits into wallets, card trays, and it is universally recognized for what it is.

The two standard sizes for Business Cards at The Media Mafia is 90 x 50mm, and 85 x 55mm.

A Quick Word On Bleed

But wait a minute… What is bleed?

Have you noticed that magazines use plenty of “full screen” images which go to the edge of the paper

Or sometimes they use a colorful background to pop up certain pages?

To create those pages without a white frame around the edge we should extend our artwork “beyond the line where the paper it is printed on will be cut.” That area where we extend the artwork is called the bleed.

Set Up Your Document Correctly From The Beginning

Let’s create a new document with the following settings:

Document Presets: Print

Width: 50 mm

Height: 90 mm

Orientation: Horizontal

Artboards: 2 if double-sided, 1 if single-sided.

Bleed: 3 mm on Top, Bottom, Left and Right margins (this is indicated by the red line around the artboard).

Advanced Options:

Colour Mode: CMYK Colour

Raster Effects: High (300ppi)

P.S. If you don’t see the bleed (red border), go to View > Guides > Show Guides.

Add Your Logo

File > place > select your logo file. 

The logo should be a vector graphic. Avoid accepting from the client the logo as a small .jpg or .png because that could affect the quality of the project which is actually your responsibility as a designer. If there is no other option but to use one of those formats, make sure it is big enough and you do not have to scale it up by stretching it.

Insert Your Details

I wanted to create a contemporary design and that means no extra decoration needed. A two-sided business card seems to be the best option as it will allow me to set all the contact information in the back, keeping plenty of open space in the front and highlight the logo.

Be sure to include basic details so that your customer can reach you easily. Avoid over-crowding the design.

Size: No smaller than 8pt

Format Your Text

Transform the text into outlines, by going to Type > Create Outlines or using the shortcut ⇧⌘O. You can also select the words, right click and select Create Outlines. This embeds the font, turning the letters into shapes. This means your text is in no danger of disappearing when printed.

Save Your File

Export your file as a .pdf with a high quality print preset.

Select marks and bleed when exporting the file, to ensure the bleed marks are saved into the final PDF file.

Remember that every little piece you include in your designs should be there because of a reason. 

Psst… Here are some design ideas we found to help you get started.

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