Business cards are card stock bearing business information about a company or individual. They are shared during formal introductions as a convenience and a memory aid. A business card typically includes the giver's name, company or business affiliation (usually with a logo) and contact information such as street addresses, telephone number(s), fax number, e-mail addresses and website. Before the advent of electronic communication business cards might also include telex details. Now they may include social media addresses such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Traditionally many cards were simple black text on white stock; today a professional business card will sometimes include one or more aspects of striking visual design.
High quality business cards without full-color photographs are normally printed using on sheet-fed offset printing presses. Some companies have gone so far as to trademark their spot colors (examples are UPS brown, Los Angeles Lakers' purple, and Tide's orange). If a business card logo is a single color and the type is another color, the process is considered two-color. More spot colors can be added depending on the needs of the card. With the onset of digital printing, and batch printing, it is now cost effective to print business cards in full color.
To simulate the effect of printing with engraved plates, a less-expensive process called thermography was developed that uses the application of a plastic powder, which adheres to the wet ink. The cards are then passed through a heating unit, which melts the plastic onto the card. Spot UV varnish onto matte laminate can also have a similar effect.
Full color cards, or cards that use many colors, are printed on sheetfed presses as well; however, they use the CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow, and black) four-color printing process. Screens of each color overprinted on one another create a wide gamut of color. The downside to this printing method is that screened colors if examined closely will reveal tiny dots, whereas spot color cards are printed solid in most cases. Spot colors should be used for simple cards with line art or non-black type that is smaller than 5 points.
Some terminology in reference to full-color printing:
These names are pronounced as "four over zero," "four over one," and "four over four".
A business card can also be coated with a UV coating (offset-uv printing). The coat is applied just like another ink using an additional unit on a sheetfed Printing press. That being said, UV coats can also be applied as a spot coating - meaning areas can be coated, and other areas can be left uncoated. This creates additional design potential. UV Coating is not to be confused with coated stock, which has a gloss or semi gloss finish that is applied before printing.
Business cards can also be printed with a digital copier, which uses toner fused onto the surface of the card, however many modern printing firms instead utilise high end "Digital Presses," now distinct from office copiers, which range from light production units such as the Bizhub 5500 from Konica Minolta, to state of the art units such as the latest HP Indigo Digital Presses.
While some of the older office copiers may have had problems running heavy business card stock, the newest digital presses can print on stock as heavy as 407 g/m2 (150# cover stock),http://www.hp.com/hpinfo/newsroom/press_kits/2012/HPdrupa12/HP_Indigo_10000.pdf and special substrates such as polypropylene. Available in both sheet-fed and web-fed models, many modern digital presses can emulate Pantone spot colors, print in up to seven colours in one pass, and some even contain embedded spectrophotometers and air-assisted feeding systems.
UV coats, and other coatings such as aqueous coatings are used to speed manufacturing of the cards. Cards that are not dry will "offset", i.e., the ink from the front of one card will mark up back of the next one. UV coatings are generally highly glossy but are more likely to fingerprint, while aqueous coatings are not noticeable but increase the life of the card. It is possible to use a dull aqueous coating on uncoated stock and get some very durable uncoated cards, and using UV coating or plastic lamination can also be applied to thicken thin stocked cards and make them more durable as well.
When cards are designed, they are given bleeds if color extends to the edge of the finished cut size. (A bleed is the extension of printed lines or colors beyond the line where the paper it is printed on will be cut.) This is to help ensure that the paper will cut without white edges due to very small differences in where the blade cuts the cards, and it is almost impossible to cut the cards properly without. Just being a hair off can result in white lines, and the blade itself will pull the paper while cutting. The image on the paper can also shift from page to page which is called a bounce, which is generally off by a hairline on an offset press, but can be quite large on lower end equipment such as a copier or a duplicator press. Bleeds are typically an extra 3.175 () to 6.35 mm ( in) to all sides of the card.
Fold-over or "tent" cards, and side fold cards are popular as well. Generally these cards will fold to the standard size.
Cards can also be printed with a different language on each side.
|ISO 216, Paper size sized||74 × 52||2.913 × 2.047||1.423|
|ISO 216, Paper size sized||81 × 57||3.189 × 2.244||1.421|
|Ireland, Italy, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Austria, Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland, Belgium, Slovenia, Portugal, Turkey||85 × 55||3.346 × 2.165||1.545|
|ISO/IEC 7810 ID-1, credit card sized, Australia||85.60 × 53.98||3.370 × 2.125||1.586|
|Australia, Denmark, New Zealand, Norway, Taiwan, Sweden, Vietnam, India, Colombia||90 × 55||3.54 × 2.165||1.636|
|Japan||91 × 55||3.582 × 2.165||1.655|
|Hong Kong, China, Singapore, Malaysia||90 × 54||3.543 × 2.125||1.667|
|Canada, United States||88.9 × 50.8||3.5 × 2||1.75|
|Iran||85 × 48||3.346 × 1.889||1.771|
|Sri Lanka, Argentina, India, Brazil, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Croatia, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Israel, Kazakhstan, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Montenegro, Slovakia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Bulgaria, Latvia, Mexico, South Korea and South Africa||90 × 50||3.543 × 1.968||1.8|
|ISO 216, Paper size sized||88 × 62||3.465 × 2.441||1.419|
The presentation of one's meishi to another person is more formal and ritualistic than in the Western world. The card should be held at the top two corners, face up and turned so that it can be read by the person receiving the meishi, who takes it by the bottom two corners using both hands. Placing one's fingers over the name or other information is considered rude. Upon receiving the meishi, one is expected to read the card over, noting the person's name and rank. One should then thank the other person, saying "choudai itashimasu" ("I accept your name card") or "choudai shimasu", and then bow.
Meishi should be kept in a smart leather case where they will not become warm or worn, both of which are considered a sign of disrespect or thoughtlessness. A received meishi should not be written on or placed in a pocket; it is considered proper to file the meishi at the rear of the leather case. If the meishi is being presented at a table, the recipient keeps the meishi on top of the leather case until they leave the table. If several people are involved in the meeting and one receives several meishi, the one with the highest rank is kept on the leather case, and the others beside it, on the table.
The manner in which the recipient treats the presenter's meishi is indicative of how the recipient will treat the presenter. Actions such as folding the card in half, or placing the presenter's meishi in one's back pocket, are regarded as insults.
With handheld computers and becoming more ubiquitous, business card data is increasingly exchanged electronically via direct wireless connections (e.g. infra-red, Bluetooth, RFID), SMS, specialized apps (e.g. Bump) or via a cloud service (e.g. licobo). Once again however, these new methods of transmitting business information have yet to completely replace the traditional physical business card.