How To: Choose the Best Paper for a Business Card
Giving a flimsy business card is like leaving them with a flimsy first impression.

Design Master

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Choosing the right paper for a business card can be a challenging task, especially if you’ve only printed just a few sheets on your home printer.

Most people either go to their local supplier and end up choosing at random, hoping everything will turn out OK, or they let others make the decision for them, usually when a commercial service is involved.

However, picking the best suited card stock is the first step toward making a beautiful and professional business card. It’s an important step and should be something you think about seriously.

The specs of the card stock greatly depend on a mix of factors: your card’s design, colors, the kind of impression you want and your budget.

Is your card heavy on graphics, or does it feature just a basic design and a few textual elements? Does the design include one or two sides? What kind of business do you need to promote with it? What about the expected life span of the card?

As a general rule, you should pick thick stock, but since thickness will not make a big difference in some instances, you should consider your actual needs before making your choice to keep your costs low.

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If your business card is double-sided, you must make sure each side will hold the ink well. Even if your card is just one-sided, you don’t really want to pick anything too light or flimsy.

Light card stock breaks down easily and usually has a less professional feel about it. A thickness of about 300 gsm/12 point and above will do. Sturdy card stock is usually better suited for business cards, but it will be pricey.

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Card stock is categorized by its coating, which directly influences its degree of reflectivity. Glossy paper is highly reflective and is excellent to retain detail and saturation. This type of finish is great for high definition printing, but it is not that great for materials intended for handling and reading.

Matte paper, on the contrary, is not very reflective and isn’t shiny, but it is easy to view in all lighting conditions and it is ideal for anything where readability is essential.

Luster paper (also known as Satin or Silk) is something of a middle ground. Luster is still shiny enough, so it is good for color rendition. It is also quite practical to handle and read.

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Other than normal plain stock, there is a variety of textured papers available that you might want to consider, especially if your card’s design calls for some textural detail.

If you want to have embossed or letterpress effects in your card, make sure you choose the appropriate type of stock for the purpose.

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If you are printing at home, the most important requirement is to check that the paper you get will be compatible with your printer.

Inkjet printers perform well with most papers, glossy and textured varieties included. Laser printers, on the other hand, may produce very nice results on matte paper, but they are not suited for glossier papers.

If you choose to use a professional printer, make sure to ask what kind of papers and finishes they offer.

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Even when it comes to choosing card stock, practice makes perfect, so don’t be afraid to try out a few different types before making your final choice.

If you are still undecided and want to make sure you will make no mistakes, the best idea is to rely on a professional printing service and ask them for samples before going through the actual printing of your business cards.

About the Author
Kristi Maddox is a master of graphic design, on-site design and ordering, and is the go-to for template and design tool usage.
Kristi and the team order print jobs from every major printer to test quality, value, customer service, and more. See their reviews here:


  1. I am always frustrated at the confusion of paper stock thickness, and my cards always seem to be to thin no matter how thick I think i order them.

  2. I came to your page hoping to find a guide for selecting the correct weight of cardstock and your article didn’t offer any helpful information.

    • Kristi Maddox (

      Hi Beth! I’m sorry to hear that. It all depends on how thick or sturdy you want your business card to feel. As a general rule of thumb, we recommend using cover stock in the range of 80-100 pounds, but it’s also best to check with a professional printing service for paper samples to ensure you’re printing on paper you really like.

  3. Aw, this was an incredibly good post. Taking a few minutes and actual effort to create a superb article

  4. I’ve used this article to send to clients after i’ve designed them their cards to give them a better understanding. Thanks you. Clear and to the point.

  5. This article was useless. There was no mention of the wiegth or mil of of a good card stock. Gloss, or UV? 40 lb or 14 or 16 lb mil. this is what people are looking for. It is no good to just say, “pick a good paper..” a lot of your readers are trying to order online.

    • Kristi Maddox (

      Hi Julia, it’s always best to pick the paper weight last after you’ve chosen whether you want cardstock or non-cardstock weight and a paper coating (like glossy, matte, or uncoated). If you’re seeking a thicker cover paper, then choose 100 lb. glossy cover; if you’re going for a thinner look, then choose 80 lb. glossy cover. Hope this helps!

  6. Can i use canon irc 8040 to print this cards