First Impressions

Your business card is like a really bad poker face: it gives just about everything away at first glance. But that’s a good thing! Use it to your advantage, and what your business card says about you can go a long way. Make yours stand out from the crowd by avoiding these top ten common business card mistakes.

Business Card Mistake One: Shape

A standard business card size is 2″x3.5″. If rounded corners, the standard curve is 1/8″ or 1/4″. Breaking away from these norms may seem hip and unique, but don’t be annoying about it. If an oversize card can’t be kept in a wallet or a holder, the recipient is probably going to throw it away. It’s fine to be different, but remember your ultimate purpose here. Consider 2.125″x3.25″ – odd enough to stand out from the stack, but not in that screaming-for-attention sort of way.

Business Card Mistake Two: Typography

Font choice says a lot about a business. Too many is busy, too few is lazy. Try to stick to a couple, at least. Don’t mix similar typefaces, like a serif with another serif or a sans with a sans – Stay within a font family if you want to create a universal look. Avenir Next Ultra Light matched with Avenir Next Bold is guaranteed to pair. Otherwise, a great typeface rule is opposites attract. Try a curvy script with a strong all caps, or a traditional serif with a humble sans.

Business Card Mistake Three: Font Size

Obviously, a card must be readable else it defeats the purpose. Anything under 6pt is too small, but 8pt or even 10pt is a strain for tired or aging eyes. Too big can be clumsy and will clutter the small space you’re working with. Consider the intended audience, as well as the information needed on the card. Let your content breathe, and above all let it be readable.

Business Card Mistake Four: Too Much Information

You have a few square inches of room. Don’t try to cram in your logo, contact info, mission statement, pictures of your kids, and a paragraph about your good deeds. Keep it simple, direct, and clean. Cross out any information/imagery that isn’t necessary and keep repeating this step until you’ve reached the basics. Logo, name, title, contact info, address, and web info is more than plenty. Too much information is too much stimuli.

Business Card Mistake Five: Too Little Information

Minimalism is a beautiful thing, but save at least one call to action for your target. A business card is a great tool, but like any tool it does have a specific use. Make sure to include at least one means of contact. Consider that some prefer email over phone, or vice versa. Logo and name are also important details.

Business Card Mistake Six: Paper Choice

Paper stock is the least expensive part of the process, so choose wisely. 80# cover is about the thinnest you can go, but for a slightly higher cost you can get 100#, 120#, or 130#! Read more about your paper options here. The only question here is quality versus quantity. Headed to a trade show and handing out dozens of cards? 100# (12 or 14pt) is your ideal match because you can hold a lot more at one time. Headed to an important one-on-one business meeting? 120#+(16pt or 18pt) will suggest sturdiness, dependability, and high quality. If you’re going to write on your business card, leave the surface uncoated. Otherwise, we offer matte or UV finishing for no additional charge, or specialty spot/foil finishing for a small fee.

Business Card Mistake Seven: Branding

One of the most important considerations as a brand is your overall look and feel. Consistency is key. Use the same type, colors, and style, and carry them through all marketing materials. Don’t break away from your brand standards, especially on your business cards. This is often the first impression people have of you, so make a strong entrance.

Business Card Mistake Eight: Design

In the setup stage, pay attention to margins. Keep all important content and images at least 1/8″ from the cut edge. If any images or color bump right up to the edge, you’ll have to add a bleed. Read how to here. For best results, use high-quality images (300 dots per inch) and outline fonts, then save your work as a (press quality or better) PDF.

Business Card Mistake Nine: Color

Use color appropriately. Apply PMS colors if printing on the press, and use the correct swatch – C for coated stock, U for uncoated stock. Apply CMYK if printing digital or four color process. DO NOT USE RGB. The RGB color model is additive rays of light. CMYK and the Pantone Matching System are subtractive dots of ink or toner. The two are not compatible, and some colors do not translate at all. Luckily, most programs can one-click convert a file to CMYK.

Business Card Mistake Ten: Proofing

Even if you think all the information is correct, triple check. Maybe send it to a colleague or friend. Read every letter and number carefully to make sure that names, addresses, and phone numbers are correct. Then check it again!


We built this list with business cards in mind, but these general design “rules” apply for all sorts of design projects. Think creatively and carefully on any marketing piece that’s introduced to your business. And remember, we’re here for all your design, print, and promotional needs!