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Essentials for Designing a Print Ready Business Card

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Business cards are common printed project, fairly simple to design. In this post I am going through the process of designing a business card and point out some of the important things to consider when designing for the print. Bleed, Color Mode and Resolution are some of the essentials to take care of, so that your artwork doesn’t get rejected by the printer. Hopefully this guide will cover up all the steps of the print process to make your print projects go smoothly. But before you start make sure you receive specific artwork instruction from the printer you are going to use. Every printing company has their own preferences. So, the settings I am using in this tutorial might not match up exactly what your printer wants.

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We are going to use mixed of Illustrator and Photoshop to use the most of these application’s strength.

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Size, Bleed and Color Mode

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Create a new document in Illustrator and enter the dimensions of the business card in the Artboard size settings. Common size of the business card is 88 mm wide and 55 mm high. For US find the measurement in Inches.

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The printer I have used in past require 3 mm of bleed so enter 3 mm in bleed setting. Bleed is best for some padding around the edges of the design which is cutoff during the printing process. It insures that it will handle with tiny sledges of the white paper along the edge of your print if the machine is not lined up exactly.

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We are designing for the print so select the CMYK color mode. Most of the business card is double sided so increase the Number of Artboards to 2.

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Here white area of the Artboard is the finished business card size. Also known as the trim size. The red outline indicates the bleed area, in which any background area needs to extend to.

Safe Zone

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It’s also wise to highlight the safe zone within your document. This not only make sure all your important elements like name or logo aren’t too close to trim area that risks being chopped off, it also helps bounce your design, applying some margin around the edge. The size of the safe zone is entirely up to you but 5 to 10 mm shifts your elements inward enough to look neat. You can highlight this area by using guides or draw a rectangle then right click and select Make Guides.

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