Designing business cards for printing: 5 helpful design tips

1: Use a vector based program to generate the artwork

I would always recommend you create your business card artwork in a professional program such as Indesign – this is the most versatile program in the marketplace. It will ensure quick and correct production for your artwork and produce sharp editable text for precision layout. Illustrator is also perfect, as it is vector based but (IMHO) not as user friendly as Indesign.

Avoid Photoshop for business card text!

If I’m designing a business card I would never use Photoshop for any text placement. Text elements will always export as ‘Bitmap’, which is made of pixels rather than scaleable, vector objects. Of course, Photoshop has place in any design, but not when it comes to text, especially small text. This rule also applies to all other artwork such as leaflets and brochures – just don’t be tempted – you’ll get a better finished (printed) result if you stick to illustrator or InDesign!

2: Avoid colours that use more than three printing plates

One of the most common errors when designing business cards is the use of multiple plate colours.

There is absolutely no need to use every plate to create a colour. Colours created with more than three plates can turn out muddy looking and will not give a clean and crisp final print.

Four plate colours can also lead to mis-registration where the plates don’t quite line up and give a soft or blurred look to the print.

Four plate colours printed on uncoated stocks can also lead to set-off, where wet ink can transfer to another

It’s really important when applying colour to your text that you use the most efficient colour possible. Black is often supplied in artwork incorrectly – for example we often get c61 m48 y45 k100. This usually occurs when a black colour has been converted from RGB to CMYK. All you really need (especially for text) is c0 m0 y0 k100 – the difference is that one plate is being used (k-100).


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