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 in the misguided belief that the shape of the card should dictate the shape of the typography. As I mentioned in maxims of page layout, this technique tends to produce mediocre results.
Goofy fonts used for all text.
bad font (Copperplate) used for other text.
Point size of name too large.
No letterspacing in caps.
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. Build the layout from the text outward. The white space will take care of itself. If you work from the edges of the card inward, you’re more likely to end up with a baseball diamond.
Equity used for all text, rather than Goofy Sans and Ugly Script.
Point size more reasonable and consistent.
Letterspacing added to small caps.
Text layout simplified.
See the notes under letterhead for general tips about getting stationery items designed and printed.
In addition, 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. Those sheets of perforated cards designed for laser printing are miserably thin, and the resulting business cards are flimsy and sad. Forget it. Get them professionally printed, either locally or through an internet printer.
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 as
“evilsupergenius”. (Three of many I’ve received.) Keep it simple.