by David Simm Published 01/08/2002
Cropping marks are essential for accurate cutting if you print your own cards.
Before spending money ordering your cards there are two things you need to take care of. First that you own the copyright of the image you intend to use, and second, in this day and age, it does make sense to get a model release, that could avoid repercussions from potential greedy litigants.
It is now almost forty years since I started using lettered images for business promotion. My enthusiasm for the medium hasn't weakened in all that time. If anything, I am more enthusiastic than ever before; digital imaging has made it so much easier and at the same time the end results are infinitely more attractive than anyone could have imagined. How can such attractive business cards not do wonders for anyone's business? Go to it Society Members... take the lead.
Notes for the UK User
We took the opportunity to chase up some details for the UK end of the market, in case it was radically different to David's US based experience. Size of the card is important. The US standard is 3.5" by 2" which translates awkwardly to 88.9mm by 50.8. The two standard UK sizes are thus 90x50mm or 85x55mm. Do check with your print house before you start or you could end up having to rework your design! Also you must ensure that you do not wander oversize. Nothing will annoy your prospect more than not being able to slip your card into their standard card wallet. This is another reason for ensuring that you use a suitable weight of card if you print your own. If they are flimsy they will feel cheap and also be hard to push onto a card-filing page.
Many software applications have templates for making up cards and we show one from Adobe Illustrator. This is an American sized card. If you set up your own in Photoshop do make sure that you use Guides. Do some sums first so that you know exactly where the guides ought to be, and make sure you set the outside guides and the cropping guides within the printing area of your inkjet (it can be 14mm on some printers, which is a good chunk off the page). To set a guide, don't drag one from the Ruler and guess the position; Click View>New Guide and type the exact value in! Don't forget that you can also move the Ruler origin to facilitate positioning. Placing trimming guides is essential if you are not using a pre die-cut media. Another tip is NOT to use your trimmer to carve up your A4 page but to use a straight edge and scalpel. If you use the trimmer you usually end up cropping off your trim guides on the first cut so you have nothing to guide you for the next one. The trimming has to be accurate; nothing looks as unprofessional as an out-of-square business card.
Your type size should be big enough to be legible. For ours at SWPP, we have the names and titles in 12 point, the addresses in 8 point. Don't forget to set your qualifications letters a point size down on your name and preferably leave out the abbreviation full stops - yes we know it's not strictly correct but nobody does it anymore!
If you select not to print your own, many of these problems are handled by your print vendor. We got some guide prices from RCS, who print Professional Imagemaker. They will do 500, full colour cards from £28.80 (Varnished) to £36.40 (Matt Laminated), both exVAT. They accept all the major software files. To save any hassle a flattened, TIFF image at 300ppi, in CMYK without a tagged profile will be your safest bet. If you send EPS files you have to either do a "convert to outlines" or send the font files - such measures are best left to experienced users, if you are new to the game send a TIFF file.
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