Choosing the Right Business Card Paper Stock

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When you're thinking about business card designs, you likely spend a lot of time picturing what the card will look like and the message it will portray. These factors are important, but it's also important to remember that the business card's appearance isn't the only thing that makes an impression.

Deciding on what paper stock the design will be printed on shouldn't be overlooked by business owners and graphic artists. Instead, choosing the right paper needs to be one of the main topics mentioned in the early phases of the design process.

Fortunately, you don't have to be a paper stock expert to make the right choice when designing a business card. To determine the appropriate paper stock to use, follow these simple steps.

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1. Understand Paper Stock Basics
Before you can make an informed decision, you need to understand the basic types of paper stock. Papers come in a variety of thickness and coating. A point system is used to determine the paper thickness and they range from 14 to 38 points. 14 point paper stock is the most popular choice for business cards. 16 point card stock is slightly heavier than 14 point, but either is a good, reasonably-priced choice for most traditional business cards.

100 lb. card stock is used by many smaller printing operations and large office supply stores. This glossy cover is a cheaper alternative, and it generally bends easily without feeling cheap or thin. Customers who want a custom, upscale feel often prefer textured stock. If letterpress printing is used, heavier stock is necessary to accommodate this printing technique.

2. Determine Brand Identity
Once you understand paper stock basics, you must determine the brand's identity before you can select the right paper. For instance, one client might want their business card to have a modern, cutting-edge feel, while another strives to convey timeless luxury. A glossy finish on basic stock works well for one of these cases, while premium matte stock is a necessity for the other.

3. Consider Practical Aspects
Thinking of ideas and finding design solutions that portray the brand in the best possible light are some of the enjoyable parts of business card design, but great designers also consider practical aspects. Does the customer want to be able to write on the card? If so, matte paper stock of average weight ensures this can occur easily. If the card features a full bleed design that runs to the edge of the card, be sure that you are using specific paper stock that accommodates this printing style.

4. Don't Forget About Budget
Generally speaking, thicker papers require a larger investment than the common 14 point stocks. However, a customer can normally save money by printing business cards in bulk instead of ordering a couple of hundred cards at a time. You might be dreaming about a letterpress card printed on premium, textured stock, but if this paper is completely out of your budget range, work to find a less-expensive option that still conveys a positive brand image.

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Paper stock affects how your customers perceive your brand, so selecting the right paper should occur in the early stages of the design process. Before preparing your next business card design, determine which paper should be used based on the client's budget, brand identity and practical needs.