A business card is a great marketing and networking tool. It is highly portable and inexpensive to print in large quantities. Some people are intimidated by the concept of using a professional printing company for business card printing if they have never used one before for this product. Perhaps they believe the cost will be unreasonably high or that the results will not be good enough, or that it will require weeks to print the cards. If you pick a good enough business card printing company, none of these nightmare scenarios will develop.
- Start with good materials. Most printing companies offer durable card stock for their business cards. Ask for a minimum of 14-point card stock. Typically, printing companies will give you the option of UV coating paper cards. This coating reflects light well and offers protection against dirt and moisture. Other media options include business card printing on stickers, plastic, and magnets.
- Convert any RGB graphics to CMYK graphics before sending them to the business card printing company. Since RGB is an additive color system and CMYK is a subtractive system, the colors may change during the transition. You may need to adjust the CMYK colors in order to match the intent of your original concept. Most major graphic design programs can handle this conversion without problems.
- Flatten transparences. Vector design programs such as Adobe Illustrator and Adobe InDesign can create transparency problems for the business card printing company. Vector-based apps offer the advantage of smaller file size than bitmap design and easy scaling up of image size without losing resolution, but they have design risks associated with them if you are not careful. Transparencies are caused by shadows, glows, and transparent objects. If a file containing transparency problems is printed, the result will probably be a white box under the transparent object. Printing companies with top-notch software and equipment can often compensate for transparency problems, but there is no guarantee that they will and they won’t refund any of your money if this happens. It is the designer’s responsibility to flatten transparencies and avoid this complication. If you do not feel comfortable designing the business card yourself, most printing companies offer design services.
- Leave room for bleed. Many printing companies use offset printing to cut the business cards. This printing method requires a small margin of error during the cutting process, or the cards may not maintain a consistent professional appearance. 1/8 of an inch is enough bleed space in most circumstances. Extend your design about 1/8 of an inch past the borders of the business card dimensions. Standard business card size is 3.5” X 2”.
- Resolution matters. Many printing companies recommend or even require that your images have a minimum resolution of 300 DPI (dots per inch). Lower resolution images may look fine on your computer screen, but when your business cards are printed out, the result is typically a blurry or pixelated mess. Images found on the internet are typically low resolution, so try to avoid using these unless they are at least 300 DPI. To check the DPI of an image, load the file into a quality graphics design program. Most of them can show the DPI of an image on the main window.