Designing business cards takes little time and effort, yet if printed correctly are an effective promotional tool. Business cards reveal the quality of a company, which is why it is so important to print them correctly. Printing with an office inkjet produces business cards that look unprofessional, while using a commercial printer distinguishes your company from the amateurs. Knowing how to lay out the design of your business card will help you avoid a cut off phone number or image.
The finished size of a business card is 3.5 x 2 inches but often templates are slightly larger to leave room for the trim and bleed area. Many printing companies provide templates with both of these zones marked to help in the design process. Be sure to read any instructions provided with the template so that your business cards are printed correctly.
The trim line marks the area within 1/16th of an inch (which is a standard printing allowance) where the card will be cut to the standard size. Because of the 1/6th allowance, avoid placing text or photos close to the trim line so that important information does not get cut, although most commercial templates should have this “safety” area marked. Often the safe zone size is 3.25 x 1.75 inches.
The bleed area extends beyond the trim line (usually 3.75 x 2.25 inches) so that the background images or colors can “bleed” off the edge of the business card. When color business cards are printed on an inkjet, full bleed is not an option, which is one reason that amateur business cards can be easily spotted.
If you use a template from a design program on your computer, just be sure that your design follows the standard sizes for safety, trim, and bleed zones. Otherwise, you may be handing out business cards that don’t make the cut.