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Bootstrapping a startup means distributing money wisely to cover a variety of expenses. The price point of a professional designer is often out of reach for new startups and, of course, you’ll want to save money wherever you can. Luckily, it’s easy to design a custom business card for free.

When you sit down to put the business card design together, however, you may find it difficult to know where to begin. If you don’t know what information, which colors, or which graphics you should use for your business card, this is the “dos and don’ts” guide for you.


DO prioritize the most important information: your name, your brand,  your position, and contact information such as your business address, your phone number, and your email.

DON’T overwhelm your contacts with too much information. Cramming in everything, like what service your business offers or what office hours you keep, makes your business card look messy. Include your social media accounts if they are important communication channels for your startup. Otherwise, leave them out.


Business cards are all about first impressions, and a successful layout and design makes a good one. To produce a clean traditional business card, apply the “invisible square” technique.

In this technique, a 2-inch-by-2-inch square is drawn at one side of the design, filled with company’s name, logo, or a relevant illustration. The other side of the card normally contains text, such as your name and contact information.

The invisible square might be in vertically or horizontally aligned or, occasionally, the relevant illustration or photograph might take up the entire background.

You don’t need to have an invisible square to have an effective business card, but it’s the easiest way to create a visually appealing, readable card that looks professional.

DO reinforce your brand identity with a layout and design that integrates the look and feel of the brand. Like your website, product line, and printouts, your business cards should reflect a consistent brand image.

DON’T use irrelevant illustrations to fill blank space in your card. Creativity is definitely welcome, but shouldn’t be off-topic. This point is connected with the DO above. Try to keep consistent brand identity with your business card, since it might be the first point of contact someone has with your brand.

*(illustrations of business card and documents that share roughly the same look)

Size & Shape

There is no strict standard for the size of business cards, but if they don’t fit comfortably in a wallet, they’re a hassle to carry around, give out, and receive. For best results, keep the common 3.5” x 2” size convention.

DO experiment with unique size and shape if you work in artistic fields or if you want to demonstrate your innovation with your business card. In these examples, designers skillfully took advantage of typical features of their businesses’ product(s)/service(s) and applied them to the shape and color of business cards:

DON’T use an unusual shape if your job is in a traditional field like finance or education. Play it safe with the traditional, rectangular 3.5” x 2” card and don’t forget to use invisible squares to your advantage.


Printers offer many card stock options Decide on one by taking both your branding and your budget into account.

DO experiment with different card stocks to see which one gives the best impression and generates the best leads. It’s A/B testing for print media!

DON’T use poor quality paper, especially if your company is an established or upscale brand.

Remember that “theory and practice go hand-in-hand.” Now that you know the basics of business cards,  take a look at DesignBold’s many templates for business cards.

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