Here we will take a look at how to properly set up a business card design file for printing to achieve the correct printing results.
This post assumes you are creating the business card design in Adobe Illustrator. There are two important reasons why Illustrator is better than Photoshop when creating business cards. First of all Illustrator works in vector mode and the end result could be the EPS file format which most professional printers use for printing business cards. Secondly you could also save the files as PDF with “Printer” settings. PDF files are very popular with online printing websites.
Setting up your document in Illustrator
In the product above we have provided an Adobe Illustrator business card template* that you can use as the base template or you can create your own. When using the template that we have uploaded please ensure the “guides” layer is deleted. Otherwise you cards will print with the red and blue borders. When creating a base layout for the business card, margins, trim, bleed area and safe areas must be carefully setup to prevent any issues when the design goes to print.
Outer Edge of the card: This is the outline of the document in Illustrator. The standard business card size for this would be 90mm x 55mm and we have setup all templates at 96x61mm to include bleed.
Bleed Area: The very edges of the document are called the bleed area. If you have any design elements or colour that comes close to or touches the outer border, you should extend it to spill over the card outer border. This way when the cards are cut by the printer, there will be no ugly “white edge” effect that would make the cards looks cheap.
Trim Area: The border you see in the template shows you where the card will be cut after printing.
Safe Area: The safe margins are borders that are definitely inside the place where the cut will take place. Please remember to keep all important information, like names, addresses, phone numbers or logos within the safe margin (at least 2mm in from the cutting edge) to ensure that they are not cut off when your document is trimmed.
When to create your document at the full bleed size: If you are working in an illustration program (such as Adobe Illustrator or Corel Draw) or a photo editing program (Such as Adobe Photoshop or Corel Photo-Paint), we recommend that you create your document at the full bleed size. This will prevent any white edges from showing at the borders after the final product is trimmed.
When to create your document at the trim size: If you are working in a layout program (such as QuarkXPress or Adobe InDesign) we recommend that you create your document at the trim size and include the specified amount of bleed for your product (3mm). When you export your document as a PDF for upload, make sure to include the bleed in your output settings so that the final upload PDF document is at the full bleed size for your product.
Document Color Settings (CMYK vs. RGB)
CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black) are the colours used in the printing process, whereas RGB (Red, Green and Blue) are the colours used by screen displays such as your monitor. Please note that JPEG files are almost always in RGB.
Your document should be created in CMYK mode so that the colours that you see on the screen most closely match the final printed product. If you create your document in RGB, the colours in your printed product may vary slightly. Many of the bright values produced by your monitor cannot be reproduced in print.
Print Resolution Settings
To get a high quality print result it is important to set up the resolution of the artwork. Once set up this effects both the EPS file and any other file conversions.
The optimum resolution for high quality printing is 300dpi. Resolution refers to the number of dots per inch (dpi), or the amount of detail the image has. Most documents prepared for commercial printing should be 300 dpi at 100% of the final print size.
You can set up the resolution of the document in the “Document Raster Effects Settings” dialog box. To get to that option Effects > Document Raster Effects Settings
Converting Fonts to outlines
Once the design is completed and you are preparing the file for printing always ensure that you convert all text part to outlines. Normally the text is in font format which means that if some one else wants to open your document they would need the same fonts to be installed on their machine. So by converting the text to outline mode you do not need to send the fonts to your printer.
PDF Document Settings
If you are saving the business card to a PDF file (for use with most online printers and few standard printers), Adobe has in-built pdf settings for print, just select the options to save for print and the program will create the best output for your pdf.
* Note: The design and settings template files provided in this article should be used at your own discretion. CJ KING DIGITAL can not be held liable for any issues arising from the use of these files.