Whether you’re a designer or not, printing business cards can sometimes be a guessing game. What’s the exact size? What does bleed mean? What kind of stock should it be on? These are all great questions and we’re going to give you 4 tips here to help you before you print your next round of business cards.
- Bleed – Let’s start with a technical term that’s very important to the end look of your business card. Bleed does not mean that the edges of the card are so sharp that you could cut yourself and bleed. Bleed means that the color on the card goes beyond the edge of the card. How does it go beyond the edge? Simple, we print your cards on a large sheet and make the color go beyond the cut marks. Actually, bleed is done in the design process and on a standard business card, we like a 1/8th” bleed (.125).
- Stock – When it comes to stock, the varieties are endless. For business cards, we like to use a heavier stock at 80-120#. That keeps the cards in the form of a card, and not a flimsy small piece of paper. The other options you have are glossy or not glossy. That simply means we’re going to add a clear coat. We can also UV coat the card to make it shiny and more durable. UV coating is recommended when you have a card with bleed (see #1).
- Color – Color is an extremely important part of the puzzle here. When designing, there are 2 types of color presets (well there are more, but two main options), RGB and CMYK. RGB stands for Red Green Blue. With those three colors, you can mix them digitally to create a wide range of colors. RGB is only used digitally. CMYK stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Key (Black). With those 4 colors, you can mix them both digitally and physically to come up with the color you want. We use the standard Pantone book and match colors to make sure what you want and design on screen, comes out as imagined on print. That process can be easy or difficult depending on the color. When designing for print, you should always use CMYK.
- Quantity – If you printed 1 business card, it would cost you approximately $3. Now, you can’t scale that number if you were to print 1,000 business cards. 1,000 business cards are not $3,000, they’re more like $50-80 depending on the print. That shows you that there’s a minimum level of effort that goes into printing even 1 card. We recently had a client who wanted a short run of business cards for an event. He started off wanting just 50, but when we told him it was only $4 more for 100, he opted for the larger amount. This concept definitely applies when printing 1 or 2 color on an offset printer (not digital). The setup for offset is much more intense and expensive. It would cost upwards of $40-50 for 1 business card on offset, but it could be as low as 3-4¢ per card if you run a few thousand. The lesson here is that you should always think in increments of 100. Business cards are usually done in 500, 1,000, or 2,000 increments.
So next time you’re printing business cards, consider these 4 things. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, even if you’re an experienced designer. It’s always best to make sure you have the files correct before printing. It’s far less expensive to change the design than to reprint.