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.
Step 1. Preliminary considerations.
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.
Step 2. The weight.
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.
Step 3. The finish.
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.
Step 4. Special papers.
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.
Step 5. The printer.
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.
Your matter really matters.
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.