Business Card Dos and Don’ts

Business Card Dos and Don’ts


When presented the right way, a business card can serve as a powerful branding tool and allow people to quickly remember who you are and what you have to offer.

Use these business cards tips to showcase your professionalism and attention to detail.

Opt for a professional design.

Your business card should look consistent with your other printed materials. Generic designs will make your business card blend in with the crowd.

Instead choose a design that reflects your personal or professional brand. Hire a reputable designer for the most polished layout.

Prioritise readability over creativity.

Decorative, whimsical and heavily styled fonts can be beautiful, but difficult to read. Simple fonts are best.

Keep the font size large enough so that potential customers don’t have to squint or take out their glasses to read your contact information.

Related: How to Become a Master Networker

Choose the layout wisely.

The traditional size for business cards is 9cm by 5cm. Odd or die-cut shapes are memorable but difficult to store. If you print any information on the back, make sure it is vital.

For example, a person who does business in SA and Japan may want to have his information printed in English on one side and Japanese on the other.

Avoid garish colours.

A pop of colour can make your business card stand out, but ensure it stands out for the right reasons. Choose a colour that won’t distract from your logo or business information.

For easy reading, print text in a dark hue such as black, navy, or a dark shade of grey.

Include multiple ways to contact you.

At a minimum you should include three pieces of information: your name, phone number, and e-mail address. If space permits, include your company name, address and website.

Fax numbers aren’t as relevant as they once were and can be omitted. It’s also not necessary to print the links to all your social networking sites. The key is to keep it simple, yet professional.

Related: Branson on Networking

Double-check for typos.

Misspellings and errors tarnish your personal brand. Potential customers will judge you on the quality of your business card. Attention to detail is important. Reprint your cards as soon as your information changes.

It’s best not to handwrite updated information on the back of your card just to save a few rand. Your business cards should always be up-to-date and presentable.

Never leave home without your business cards.

Business cards are called business cards for a reason – to generate business. Store your cards in a nice holder to keep them fresh and protected. Make it a habit to keep a stack of cards in your car, desk, handbag and briefcase.

You never know when a casual encounter may turn into a business opportunity. When you attend business meetings, hand the receptionist your card each time so he or she can announce your name and company properly.

Don’t hand someone your card too early in a conversation.

In most cases, it’s best to wait for someone to request your card before giving it out. If you offer your card too early in the conversation, you may appear too forward or pushy. Build a rapport and offer your card before you finish your conversation.

To segue say, “May I give you my card?” Hand the recipient your business card with the words facing their direction. When you receive someone’s business card, show interest and take a moment to read it over before putting it away.

Use business cards to remember names.

If you’re in a meeting and you’ve just exchanged business cards with others in the room, place the cards on the table in front of you so you can remember names and distinguish who is speaking.

Do you have any business card-related tips to share? Let us know in the comment section below…

Jacqueline Whitmore
Jacqueline Whitmore is an etiquette coach and founder of The Protocol School of Palm Beach. She is also the author of Poised for Success: Mastering the Four Qualities That Distinguish Outstanding Professionals (St. Martin's Press, 2011) and Business Class: Etiquette Essentials for Success at Work (St. Martin's Press, 2005).
  • Guest

    Business card etiquette has a strong cultural bias, and if doing business internationally, one needs to be aware of the societal norms of your business partners or potential clients. For example, some countries are very status conscious, and it is important to highlight titles and qualifications. In others, this is seen as self-aggrandisement and doesn’t go down well. In some cultures it is appropriate to admire the card and put it away with great care and ceremony, while in others, it’s quite fine to simply tuck it into the corner of a folder or slip it into your bag.

  • House Clearance South Wales

    I use magnetic type business cards. We use our van picture which has large sign writing on them as the front picture, with easy to read telephone numbers, we know they last longer waterproof and also people throw away diarys and lose things but they always even if the fridge breaks down replace the magnets, good also for placing on filling cabinets, inside work vans etc.