Designing the perfect business card is a worthy goal. Business cards are the ultimate form of cheap advertising: you can keep a bundle in your pocket, then hand them out when the situation demands. Since the business card is often tantamount to a first impression, you want to make sure it best presents who you are and what you have to offer.

First of all, business cards have changed a lot recently. The advent of inexpensive color printing alone has radically altered the business card. With so many options available, it's easy to be overwhelmed when it comes time to design your business card.

Begin with Basics

Before you start plugging text onto a small rectangular paper, you need to decide what is most important. Your name, title and contact information address, phone, fax and email address should appear on the card. And don't forget your company logo. (If you don't have one yet, use your print software to invent an attractive logo.) Remember that you want recipients to glean important information from your business card at a glance, so don't try to cram in too much information.

Graphics and Logos

This is another area where many go overboard and do too much. Remember that a business card is only a few inches wide, so less is more. Your company or product logo makes sense, and only one or two colors. Not only is a one- or two-color card less expensive to print, but it's also easier on the eyes. Remember that this is a business card, not a photograph.

Paper and Ink

With desktop publishing software, printing business cards from a home inkjet or laser printer is easy. Most print software programs will walk you through the process, from design to printing. If you want to do fancier cards or print in bulk, visit a brick-and-mortar or printing shop.

For example, printing shops produce raised ink business cards-you can feel the print with your finger. This isn't something home inkjet and laser printers can produce. But weigh the costs of printing perks against their practicality. While a textured business card might be more noticeable to a client, is the increased expense worth the extra cost?

Putting together your own business card is a fun, rewarding experience. When you hand your new card to a client, you're giving them a small piece of yourself, not something that someone else designed for you.

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