How To: Make a Die Cut Business Card
Don't cut corners! Follow these five helpful steps.

Design Master

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Want to expand your connections? Then you’ll want attractive business cards.

Besides choosing a unique design, altering the shape of the business card can broaden your creative possibilities. If you want to impress a potential client, a custom shape can make all the difference.

For printing, I recommend setting the resolution to 300 pixels/inch and the color mode to CMYK.

The standard size for business cards is 3.5 inches by 2 inches. However, to be on the safe side, you need to accommodate bleeds to ensure no white border will show on the card after trimming. Add a 0.125-inch bleed for each side of the card.


Like bleeds, margins are a necessary precaution, especially if you are making a graphics-heavy card. Once you have created your card’s document, you can draw guides to define a safe area for your design.

Margins should be set at a minimum of 0.125 inches from their closest border. Keep all the important elements of your design within the area enclosed between the borders to avoid them being cut off when printing.


Whether you want to keep your design minimal or be more inventive, adopt a style that will go with your business. The design of your card should reinforce your identity, and high-quality graphics and a coherent color palette are invaluable.

Import photos, a logo and other design elements to your card’s document and position them carefully.


The card should offer a very short and clear overview of your area of expertise. It also should include your name and contact information so potential clients will be able to get in touch.

Choose clear typefaces and colors that will establish acceptable contrast with the background. Stick to the relevant details and keep it simple.


The simple, rounded rectangular shape, which is one of the most basic modifications for die cut business cards, is a fairly popular choice. However, business cards can be adapted to fit a variety of shapes, so choose one that will complement the style of your design.

To create a card with round corners, grab the Rounded rectangle tool. Set the radius to 25 pixels. The rounded rectangle you draw should coincide with the safe margin area and exclude the bleeds.

Drag the tool over the card’s surface and use the transform tools to adjust its size if necessary. The shape will serve as a trimming guide. If you are using Illustrator, you can enter the desired size for your shape right away and turn it into a guide with View>Guides>Make Guides.


Here is a preview of the finished card.


Creating a die cut business card is very simple. Actually, it’s almost the same as creating a classic business card.

If you are handing your cards to a commercial business card printer, contact them for their specifications and die cutting stocks before starting your project to make sure you are making the best print-ready product.

Edited in Illustrator and Photoshop CS5.

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. rounded corers are too common now, and im not sure that even counts as a die-cut…

    • Kenny Austin
      Kevin Austin (

      That is a great thought, but don’t overlook the sleekness that rounded corners can offer to a card design. They are certainly getting more popular though.