How to Design Your Own Business Cards

By now you've learned how important networking is for your future career, but all of your networking efforts might be futile if the people you meet can't contact you. That's why it's important to have business cards on hand! But making business cards can be tricky—so HC is here to answer all your questions, from what to put on the cards to where to buy them.

Where To Buy Your Business Cards

MOO: With MOO’s easy-to-use online design tool, you can design a one-of-a-kind card with your choice of colors, fonts, and images. You can even upload photos from your Facebook or Flickr. Choose from one of Moo's super-stylish templates or upload your own design.

Vistaprint: Vistaprint has one of the best deals around on business cards: If you use one of the site's simple, premade templates, the cards are free—you only pay for shipping! Even if you're feeling more creative and want to use a different template, Vistaprint’s premium business cards are pretty inexpensive, which is great for collegiettes on a budget. Using your own design or one of Vistaprint's premium templates, which are a bit more chic than their free designs, only costs $20 for 250 cards on their standard paper.

Overnight Prints: This site has more great deals and templates to choose from! You can also upload your own design or choose from a template with this site. The best part is, as the name suggests, if you order by 8 p.m., you can get these cards overnight if you need to. This should be your go-to website if you need your business cards by a specific date!

Zazzle: If you're looking for business cards that are specific to your career field, Zazzle is for you! This site offers hundreds of free templates for tons of industries from fashion to music to fitness and more.

Make your own: If you’re feeling ambitious and know your way around Photoshop, printing your own cards is possible, too. After designing your card, print the image on heavyweight cardstock and cut carefully along the edges. Check out HC’s detailed how-to for step-by-step instructions.

The Text

What exactly should go on your business cards? There are lots of things to consider, so we asked Sara Moore, a career center specialist at Des Moines Area Community College, for advice one what to include on a card. “In addition to their primary purpose—to share contact information—business cards can also communicate a great deal about the person who created them,” Moore says. “Business cards can reflect a job seeker’s industry, sense of style, level of tech-savvy, personality, and other things through their design and content. Keep in mind that the cards need to be a polished and professional representation of who they are and should also be appropriate for their industry/job target.” Check out her tips below

  1. Your name. This goes without saying, but make sure you put your name on the card! Your name should be the most prominent and noticeable element on the card. Make it stand out by using a bigger or bolder font.
  2. Your personal brand. If you’ve started your own personal branding, you can extend it on to your business card by using the same elements from your resume, website, or other professional materials. “One way I’ve seen students incorporate their personal brands into their business cards is by including personal logos, slogans, taglines, or favorite quotes that reflect their personality and/or job target,” Moore says. “These same elements can then be used on the student’s other materials so there is a consistent look/message being communicated across their various contact points.” Have your own logo or a tagline you always use? Make sure you put it on the card! If you haven't created a personal logo, now is a great time to try it.
  3. Your contact information. The whole point of a business card is to keep in touch, so make sure your contact information is correct and up-to-date. Include your cell phone number and a professional e-mail address. Of course, don't use the e-mail address you created in sixth grade (if it ends with @aol.com, forget it!). “I usually recommend using a personal e-mail address [as opposed to a school-issued e-mail address] because students will retain access to their personal e-mail accounts throughout school and beyond, they tend to check them more often, and they are sometimes easier to access than their school accounts,” Moore says. You might want to create an e-mail account to use solely for job searching and networking so that important professional messages won’t get lost among school-related or personal e-mails.
  4. Your personal website. If you have a personal website with an academic or professional focus, you can include the website's URL or a QR code on the card, Moore says. These websites are a great way for your connections to learn a little more about you. However, if the site is more personal in nature, it’s probably a good idea to exclude it.
  5. Your social media accounts. Putting links to your social media accounts on your business cards can be a good idea—but it isn't always necessary. Moore only recommends including social media accounts “if they contain professional or academic content that might further impress a potential employer.” For example, it's wise for aspiring photographers to include the URL to their Flickr profile so connections can find samples of their work. For collegiettes who are going into film or broadcast journalism, sharing your YouTube profile can help people get a sense of your talents. Include more social accounts like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram only if you use them in a professional way. “In general, students should always be careful about what they post online and who they choose to share information with,” Moore advises.
  6. A title. Once you have a job after graduation, your business card will likely have your job title. But collegiettes often have multiple part-time jobs, work on campus, or switch jobs in the summer. So what should you put for your title? Moore has seen many variations, which can be simple or creative. Here are a few options to consider:
  • Student
  • Current Student
  • (Your School) Student
  • (Your Major) Student
  • Future Leader in (Your Career Field)
  • Creative (Your Major) Student
  • Aspiring (Job Aspiration)

The Design

Your business card leaves a lasting impression, so make sure it represents you well. We asked Stephanie Shore, vice president of marketing for North America for MOO, for business card design tips. “Either go super-restrained or totally over-the-top. Anything else will be interpreted as average,” Shore advises. “A card should be memorable. Not only should it stand out in a stack of other cards, but it should add… to the impression given to the recipient. Every choice we make represents who we are, and how we want to be perceived.” Read on for more design tips!

Choose easy-to-read fonts

Trendy fonts may look fun on your screen, but when printed on a card, they might look childish, or they could be hard to read. Stick to a simple font that you know is legible. Both serif fonts (the ones with flourishes on the ends, like Times New Roman) and sans serif fonts (the ones with straight ends, like Helvetica) can work, though they convey different messages. “There are countless serif fonts, and all of them communicate a classical and safe personality,” Shore says. “Conversely, the sans serif style communicates modernity and strength, possibly a degree of risk or a nontraditional way of doing things.”

Most importantly, the text needs to be large enough to read. Shore suggests making it at least eight-point in a readable color. “Anything smaller than eight-point may look fine on your monitor, but may appear as a fuzzy, smudged-out line when printed,” she says. The most important information can be highlighted in a bigger font or in bold.

Use color wisely

Don’t be afraid of a little color! A pop of purple can make your card stand out and showcase your personality. Just don’t get too crazy with color—Shore says you can use up to three complementary and aesthetically pleasing colors. “A mish-mash of bright and bold colors may make your card stand out in a stack of 50, but it could be for the wrong reasons,” she says.

There are a few things to keep in mind when choosing your colors. Again, think about your personal brand. “Try to keep your color scheme consistent throughout your own media—website, Twitter, e-mail signature, etc.,” Shore says. Another factor to consider is the connotations of the colors you choose. For example, if you’re applying for a job in the NFL, a pink card might not send the right message, but in the fashion field, it would be fine. So don’t choose colors arbitrarily—use color with a purpose!

Include a photo (for some fields)

Putting an image on your business card can be a hit or a miss. Of course, it depends on your field of work. For example, Shore says that including a headshot is ideal for actors, models, real estate agents, and other jobs where your face is part of your personal brand. “If you’re a creative type, then your business card can double as a portfolio,” Shore says. For photographers, painters, fashion designers, and other artists, a picture of your work can show a sample of your talents and make you more memorable. However, use photos with caution: If the image doesn’t add anything to the card or your personal brand, it may seem out of place.

Consider the unconventional

Typically, business cards are printed horizontally on a 3.5-by-2-inch card. Choosing this size is a safe bet, especially if you’re going into business or another traditionally conservative field. But if you’re in a creative field, doing something unusual is acceptable. For example, Shore says printing the information vertically on a business card is a more contemporary style. You can also get an alternative look by ordering cards in a different size or shape, like a long, skinny rectangle, a triangle, or a square. Or, try using cutouts to make your card stand out. You could have a letter cut out in the middle or get rounded edges. In any case, there are tons of ways to make your business card extra special!

With these resources, you should be all set to order your new business cards. Next time someone asks you for your card, you can confidently hand it over!