Business Cards: Stock and Printing Options

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Once you’ve figured out a design for your business cards, you will ultimately need to get them printed.  There are thousands of companies that offer printing services; some may specialize in solely doing business cards, while others may be “one-stop shops” for all your printing needs.  Today, I’m going to try and give a brief overview of some things you might want to consider while shopping around, and then I’ll suggest three companies that I prefer.


The less cards you purchase, the higher the price will be per card (as a rough example: if you buy 100 cards, you may end up paying 1$ per card, but if you buy 1000 cards, it will be like 0.50$ per card).  This is due to the initial setup costs at the printers and shorter runs take more people time.  The quantity you decide to go with is arguably one of the easiest things to decide on – and it will most likely depend on how many cards you estimate giving out, and most importantly your budget.  To give a comparison, my second set of cards (a 50 pack) lasted me a few years, but for those who are in different industries and are meeting people more often, 50 cards might last less than a month!  If this is your first business card, my suggestion is to go with a lower amount to begin with, and you’ll get a better estimate once you see how many are used.


This step should really be decided upon in the initial design phase, especially if you are hiring someone to do this for you.  You don’t want to have to pay to have someone re-design the layout of your cards just because you want something unique.  But for most professions, a standard sized business card should be perfect.  The standard size is 3.5 inches wide x 2 inches high, and for almost 90% of cases this is the size of business card you should go with.  The reason being that it fits easily into a wallet, those plastic business card binder holders, and even a rolodex (yes, many people use these!).  Other popular sizes are squares (2″ x 2″), and half sized (1″ x 3.5″).  You can even go crazy and get custom sized cards like circles, ovals, etc. but these belong in the next category…


Custom shapes are created by a process called die-cutting, and the sky’s the limit on the shape you want (although you need to find a printing company that offers this custom service).  I should warn people though, getting a custom shape can often be very costly, so you need to figure out ahead of time (also in the design phase) if this is something you want to pursue.  I would suggest looking at options and pricing before you have your heart set on a design that might be too expensive to actually print.  Another great alternative to a completely custom shape, is to go with something like rounded corners.  Some options are bigger or smaller rounds (either 1/4 or 1/8 radius corners) or even doing two of the corners instead of all four.

Stock + Finish:

Stock does not refer to quantity you have sitting at home, but actually the thickness of the paper that your business card is printed on!  Most printing companies offer business cards starting at 12pt stock and the paper gets thicker the higher the stock point is (ie: 20 is higher than 12).  A general average is usually 16pts, and with this you can be assured that your cards will be a bit malleable but still feel thick and sturdy.  I’ve included “finish” in this category, because often paper stock and finish go hand in hand when you are deciding on your options.  Finish most often refers to the coating that is on the card, whether it be high-gloss, uncoated, matte laminated, etc.  I will also argue that the finish refers to the type of material that is used, such as linen, kraft or even wood (and more!).  My suggestion is to go with something a bit better than the norm/basic, you cards will literally feel like they are more luxurious, and people might be more inclined to keep them!


The last step in business card printing!  Embellishments are fancy details that are added once the initial card is printed, and these can be a wide variety of things like embossing, debossing, UV coating, painting edges, sandwiched stock, etc.  This should also be something decided on in the initial design phase, as often there are certain design choices that should be made depending on the type of embellishment you want to add.  Keep in mind that with each addition, it will add considerable cost and sometimes even printing time to your order.

Others Design Considerations:

Print on one-side or two?

Pro-Tip: go with the double sided printing.  You literally have twice the room to put information or graphics on and often times there is little to no added cost to do this (ie: you’re not paying double the price for this, sometimes it’s anywhere from 0-25% depending on the printer).  I find it discouraging when I am given a business card and I flip it over and there’s nothing else on the back.  I mean, even if you regularly need to use the back of the card to write things down, at least put a little logo, graphic or something on the back to keep it interesting!  (Follow up: if you need to write stuff on your cards, do not go with a glossy finish)

Should I put a picture of myself on my card?

My response: are you a real-estate agent?  If the answer if no, putting a picture of yourself is… iffy.  Unless you’re a designer and have a super graphic-y picture, or are a model/actor and your physical appearance IS your business, than a picture is not necessary at all (and may even be considered cheesy).  Some exceptions might be if you’re a car salesperson, or someone else in sales in a company that has many similar employees (again: real-estate agent), than maybe a picture could be used.  And for goodness sakes, if you’re going to go through the trouble of having a picture… make sure it’s been professionally photographed!

How much information is too much? Too little?

Personally, I go with the attitude “less is more”, but that’s a personal preference and it really depends on what industry you’re in, what the purpose of giving your card is, and who you want to see your information.  The basics are your: first name, company (if applicable), company logo (again, if applicable), basic contact information (could be an email, a phone number, or both) and a description of what you do and/or a picture of your product(s).  But for the latter, 3 pictures is the max you should have on your card.  Nothing is worse than a business card that is over-saturated with text and images (again, my personal opinion).  To answer the three sub-questions above, the industry you’re in could mean that you need to include a physical address or a fax number.  The purpose of giving your card could be to schedule a follow up meeting, in which case you would want to have adequate space to write in this information.  The third point is both who you’re audience is, which could narrow your colour and font size options, but also who your potential audience is.  A lot of times when you give your business card to someone, they might pass it on to a co-worker, manager, friend, etc.  If you have your personal phone number, you might not want any “Joe Blow” calling you.  A final point, if you do have your phone number on your business cards, make sure you don’t change your number often, so that you don’t miss any potential calls.

Printing Companies:

Now that you’ve made it to the end of this post and have your business cards designed and ready to go (or you’re at least thinking of the layout you want), you should definitely start researching some printing companies.  Whether you’re looking for a physical/local business, or are considering ordering your cards online, it really comes down to personal preference.  Different printing companies offer different options, costs and printing times, so it’s always best to research, research, research, before you need to print your cards.  Nothing is worse than waiting until the last minute and then finding out the company you want to use takes 2 weeks to print your cards, (and you want them tomorrow)!  Another thing to factor into your printing costs is any shipping you might need to pay (which you don’t have to worry about if you purchase locally and pick them up).  Without further ado, here are three of my printing suggestions, in no particular order:


As mentioned in my blog post about business card design, I used Moo Printing for my second set of business cards.  Moo is an online printing company that lets you print different designs in one print run, so you can literally have multiple design options.  Another great thing about Moo is their referral program, so if you refer someone you get a printing discount, and they get 10% off.  Follow this link for 10% off printing from Moo. Again, another mention about Moo is that they offer a nice thick stock, matte lamination and rounded corners as the base option.

Zoom Printing

Zoom Printing is a Canadian “one-stop shop” printing company with many options for business cards and beyond.  I’ve used Zoom Printing for clients and businesses, and even for my wedding invitations.  They offer a few stock options and some embellishments, and are sometimes un-beatable in their pricing.  Another great bonus is that you can get things shipped within Canada for free by using the code “shipping” which they display prominently on their website.  If you live in certain areas, you might also be eligible for “next day printing”, which could be good for those people who are not good at planning.


Not to be confused with Zoom Printing, Zoum is another Canadian printing company that I have found via online research.  They are located in Québec, so if it helps, say their name with a French accent to help differentiate them from Zoom Printing.  While I have not ordered from them yet, this is the company that I will be ordering my next set of cards from.  I would say that they specialized in luxury business cards, so if you’re looking for something ultra-fancy – I would go with them.  Another thing they offer is multiple embellishments (compared to other companies that might only offer one option per print run).  But remember to keep in mind that these costs will start to add up quickly, so try and go with one or two if you want to add a bit of luxury.

PS: If they need to contact you they will most likely do it in French (seeing how they are located in Québec), but there are people who can help you in English if needed.

Honourable Mention: Jukebox

I need to mention that I’ve never ordered from Jukebox Print before, but they seem to offer a great selection of super unique printing options.  From materials like cotton and wood, to semi-custom die cut shapes, I would totally order from them if I had a client that wanted something to stand out.


Whether you go completely basic or splurge on cards that cost more than 5$ each, your business card should always be a reflection of who you are and what you do.  When in doubt if a printing company offers a certain option you want, you always have the freedom to ask.

Another point I should mention is that it is always best to test out the cards to see and feel the different stocks and finishes in person before you print a thousand that you might not end up loving.  Many companies will often mail you samples (either for free, or at a small cost) so you can touch them in person (I’ve gotten samples from both Zoom and Zoum).  Some might also offer free printing of your designs (but the cards might sometimes have their logo, or you have to pay for shipping).

So what do you think?  What stocks and finishes do you prefer, or what other companies might you recommend?

Disclaimer – I did not get compensation from any company mentioned, with exception to the custom referral link from Moo, which only gives me Moolah if someone purchases from them after following that link.

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