For one so simple, the question of what to put on a business card is actually a tricky one to answer.
Why? Because while it should stand out and be memorable, it should also look consummately professional in design—and not be too cluttered. This is a difficult balance to achieve, made harder because there’s so much competition. Below, we’ve detailed all the information that should be on a business card, as well as how to make it stand out from the crowd.
Basic Business Card Template
Common practise is to have your name in slightly larger font than anything else on the card. Think about it: if somebody gives you their business card, what’s the first thing you’re going to look for? If like most people you would look for their name, then you have to make the name on your business card the most obvious thing the eye is drawn to.
Underneath that are your job description and the business you work for. These three things flow naturally from each other, and give the recipient everything they need to know in one go—without them having to look elsewhere on the card, or turn it over. These three things should therefore be next to each other.
As for anything else, like the URL of your site or the handles for your social media, that depends on your profession and what you think is suitable.
What’s Your Name?
No matter what design you opt for, and what extra information it provides, your business card has to let the recipient know who you are. Your name and the best way to contact you should all be central to the card’s design. Without these, the card loses its function.
As for what name to put on your card, it’s your choice. If you want to include your full name including middle names (and space permits you to), then there’s no problem with that. If you want to use a contracted version of your name that you’re more comfortable with, again, there’s no problem with that. But you should use your full name, middle names or not.
There’s also no need to include Mr/Mrs/Ms/Miss before your name. It doesn’t affect the hiring or contracting process, and leaving out your title helps maintain a cleaner appearance overall.
If you do have degrees and qualifications, you may want to include these at the end of your name (i.e. MA, PhD, MD, etc.) but there’s no absolute need to. If you feel like your qualifications will help you network better, then include them.
Where to Put Your Name on a Business Card
Your name should be the first thing that a person sees on your card. It’s the most important thing on there by far. You can achieve this by putting it in the centre of the card, if your design allows. You should also place it above any other personal details on your card, e.g. place of work or job title.
There are a number of other ways to highlight your name on a business card. You could:
- Have it set in a larger font size, or have it set in a different font
- Have it displayed in bold
- Have it embossed
Making your name ever so slightly larger—just one or two points bigger—is enough to make it stand out without compromising your professional look. The same applies to setting it in bold.
You could also have it set apart slightly from the other text on your card. In a simple design, this works well.
Your business card should also make clear what it is that you do. If you make an amazing impression, then the recipient might remember who you are and why they have your card. But not everybody has a photographic memory, so it’s important to put your job title too.
When describing your job, don’t try too hard to make it sound impressive. It’s obvious when somebody wants to make themselves more important, when the titles ‘sales consultant’ or ‘line manager’ would do. Pick a title that sounds professional and accurately describes your function, as well as reflecting whatever seniority you might have.
If you’re a freelancer or self-employed, you might not know exactly what job title to use. Many freelancers and small business owners do everything from the admin, to the work, the accounts, to the sales and marketing.
To decide which title to use, think about what kind of client you want to attract. This means you should put graphic designer or content writer rather than ‘CEO’ if you own a small business that provides either of those services.
Who Do You Work For?
Depending on what you do, you may also need to to make it clear who you work for. If they’re a large employer, then including the business name carries a certain cachet. In other words, including your employer’s name will make you look more impressive.
If you’re self-employed, then there are a variety of terms you could use such as self-employed or contractor. If you run your own small business, you could include its name. Or, you could combine the job title and who you work for: ‘Self-employed graphic designer’, for example.
After your name, your contact details are the next most important thing on your business card. They are the point and purpose of a card: the point is for it to serve as a physical reminder of who you are, what you do, and how a person can contact you. Without one of these three core details, a business card is useless.
There are two kinds of contact details you can, or should, include. These are your basic contact details and your social media. Depending on your job, it might be wise to have just your basic details, just your social media, or a combination of both.
Your basic contact details are your phone number and email address. Use a phone number that you can guarantee won’t change for the foreseeable future. A landline is best, but failing that, use a mobile number that you can keep even if you have to switch sims or providers.
The same applies to your email address. Ideally, you should use an address with the domain of your site, i.e. email@example.com. This appears far more professional than a Gmail, Hotmail or AOL domain. If that’s not possible, Gmail is the best as it’s the least old fashioned.
Where to Put Contact Details on a Business Card
Your contact details can be anywhere on the card that the design allows. There are multiple ways that they can be arranged.
- They can run along the bottom of the card
- They can be listed on the right hand side of the card, opposite your personal details
- They can be anywhere on the back of the card that the design allows
Or you could simply have them in a row underneath your name, job title and place of work. The contact details are an area where you have a lot of choice as to how they’re set out.
Many modern businesses rely on social media, whether that’s for reaching customers, reaching potential business partners, or reaching contractors. No matter what you do, it’s likely that you’ll have or need to have social media—so it’s only natural to include details of how to find your social media on your business card.
If you do want to include references to your social media accounts, you should stylise them. There’s no point putting a full, ugly link as nobody could click it, after all! Instead, consider styling your social media info.
You can do that with a small social media icon followed by /MyFacebookPage or @TwitterAccount. If you have multiple social media accounts, you could have them arranged in a row along the bottom of the card, or in a list with your phone number at the side of the card.
As for whether it’s necessary, that very much depends on what you do. If you’re a photographer, you could give the handle of your official Instagram portfolio.
Should You Put Your Website on Your Business Card?
Again, the answer depends on your profession. If you have an office job, or you work in sales or marketing, there isn’t necessarily a need for you to have your own website. All the information you need could be hosted on a LinkedIn page.
But if you work in the creative industries, a website might be a great idea. Having your own site gives you control over your portfolio. And if you work in web design, then of course putting your personal site on a business card is a good idea!
The URL of your personal website looks best when it’s just underneath your email, as a general part of your contact details. But like everything else, if it looks good elsewhere as part of a unique design, that’s fine too.
Extra Business Card Ideas: A Call to Action
Aside from the obvious details that every business card needs, there are things you can include that will make your business card more useful or memorable.
This very much depends on your profession, but a call to action on your card could be exceptionally effective. If you work a regular office job—if you’re an accountant, or a clerk—there wouldn’t be much point. It also wouldn’t appear particularly professional.
But if you work in either sales or marketing, a call to action would be a fun and effective way of making your business card stand out. It could be something simple like ‘Call me!’ Or, it could be something longer on the back of the card like ‘For smart code written quick, give me a call.’
Even better, you can create motion in your card with a small arrow from the call to action to your phone number or Twitter handle. This guides the person’s eye from one thing to another, neatly, to maximise the overall effect of your card.
Business Card Designs
The design you choose for your business card is vital. Of course, a card that looks better is going to be more memorable. But better design also serves to enhance the purpose of the card by highlighting information and providing a unique tactile experience.
Size and Shape
Your card should fit comfortably inside a wallet. Ideally, it should be the same size and shape as a bank card. Put yourself in the recipient’s shoes for a moment: if the business card you gave them doesn’t sit comfortably inside a wallet or pocket then the next time they’re reminded of it, it will be because your card is getting in their way! So in terms of size, you’re quite limited.
If you want to give your business card a creative shape, there are a few options:
- Your card could have rounded edges instead of pointed edges.
- It could be square instead of rectangular.
- It could have one, two or three of the corners cut away while the other/s are normal.
- The card could be cut away into a shape that relates to your job, e.g. the shape of buildings, the shape of a lightbulb, or the shape of a car.
- It could be the shape of a letter, e.g. the first letter of the name of the business you run.
Shape allows you to play with design without making the card look cluttered.
Textured designs are great for two reasons. The first is that they add an extra dimension of experience to your business card. People remember sensory experience far more than just the information they’ve processed.
While there’s a chance the recipient will remember a basic card with all the information they need, there’s a far better chance that they’ll remember the person with the textured business card.
The second reason is that texture can be used to highlight information, or a certain part of the card. By making the picture on your card glossy, you ensure that it catches the light and stands out.
Or, you could give the card a texture that fits your job role: glossy and glassy if you fit windows for a living, or papery, almost wooden if you’re a joiner. People appreciate and remember thoughtful design.
But rather than follow a guide, most people choose to look
at templates and famous examples instead. Fortunately for you, that’s exactly
what we have here in our post about the most well-known business cards ever!