business cardsShrink and simplify

Busi­ness cards have to fit a lot of in­for­ma­tion in a small area. But they of­ten try to do too much.

For in­stance, the card lay­out be­low is fairly com­mon. I call it the base­ball-di­a­mond lay­out: in­for­ma­tion is pushed out to the cor­ners, and your eye has to travel around the edge of the whole card to read everything.

  1. Goofy font used for name. bad font (Cop­per­plate) used for other text.

  2. Point size of name too large.

  3. No let­terspac­ing in caps.

  4. Too much in­for­ma­tion, pushed out to corners.

The guid­ing prin­ci­ples with busi­ness cards are the same as with let­ter­head. Re­move any­thing nonessen­tial. Don’t worry about the text be­ing small—there’s not very much of it. If you build the lay­out from the text out­ward, then the white space will take care of it­self. But if you work from the edges of the card in­ward, you’re more likely to end up with a base­ball diamond.

  1. Eq­uity used for all text.

  2. Point size more rea­son­able and consistent.

  3. Let­terspac­ing added to small caps.

  4. Text lay­out simplified.

  5. Pom­pos­ity eliminated.

See the notes un­der let­ter­head for gen­eral tips about get­ting sta­tionery items de­signed and printed.

In ad­di­tion to those tips, care­fully con­sider the pa­per stock for your busi­ness cards. More than other printed items, busi­ness cards pro­vide a tac­tile ex­pe­ri­ence, much like shak­ing some­one’s hand. A busi­ness card should feel great be­tween your fin­gers. I’ve got­ten too many that felt like valet-park­ing receipts.

For that rea­son, I can’t en­dorse laser-printed busi­ness cards. The per­fo­rated sheets sold for the pur­pose are made of thin pa­per. The re­sult­ing cards are flimsy and sad. For­get it. Have your cards pro­fes­sion­ally printed.

by the way
  • Color can be a nice touch on busi­ness cards, but it has to be un­der­stated. The louder the color, the less of it you can use, and vice versa.

  • Cre­ative types, I don’t want to dampen your en­thu­si­asm for sub­vert­ing par­a­digms. But I can’t en­dorse stunt cards ei­ther—for in­stance, those that are printed on sheet metal, or that are over­sized, or that list you asevil su­per­ge­nius.” (Three of many I’ve re­ceived.) Keep it simple.