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How to Choose the Right Paper for Business Cards?

A good-looking business card is one of the best and inexpensive marketing methods for your business.

One of the most important aspects concerning business card printing, although often neglected, is choosing the right type of paper.

What Are the Main Considerations When Choosing Paper for Business Cards?

A main concern for all people trying to promote their specific services and products is to make their business cards more attractive, so that the recipients do not just put them in a corner and forget about them. They should stand out among the many other business cards your potential clients receive.

The business card should also reflect the nature of your activity. You may think that the printing material has nothing to do with this, but, actually, it does. Consider someone working in an NGO or company that deals with environmental protection issues. What impression would you get if his business cards were made of plastic or other non-biodegradable materials?

You should also pick a type of paper that is resistant enough. Otherwise, it may quickly get folded or crinkly over time.

It should also be adapted to the type of information you wish to print: images, QR codes or just plain text.

Last, but not least, consider the budget you wish to allocate for business cards. Better and fancier materials are also more expensive.

There are people using various materials, like plastic, wood, textiles and others for their business cards, but this article deals only with the most common material: paper.

What to Look for When Choosing the Suitable Paper?

  • Paper weight. This is certainly one of the most important characteristics. Lighter (i.e. thinner) paper is cheaper and it does not take much space (think that the receiver may put lots of business cards in his wallet, for instance – thick paper means they are uncomfortable to store). However, thicker paper is much more resistant. It is also extremely necessary if you decide to print on both sides or to use lots of graphic elements. Choosing the suitable paper weight also depends on whether you want your business cards coated or not.
  • Finish. There are two main possibilities: coated and uncoated paper. Coated paper has a thin clay coating on one or both sides. It can be matte or glossy. Either way, coated business cards are more resistant, they can be made thinner, and colours are brighter (it is ideal for photographs). While a glossy finish may be eye-catching, a matte one is easier to see in all lighting conditions. Uncoated paper is cheaper and often makes single-coloured designs look better.
  • Colour. Business cards do not necessarily need to be white. You may use many different colours, and even white has various tones: natural white, blue-white, soft white etc. What you need to consider before choosing a background colour is what colours you want the text and images printed to have. Blue ink looks green on a yellow sheet, for instance.
  • Brightness. You may also choose between different brightness levels. While brighter paper is in trend and is definitely eye-catching, it is also more expensive, due to all the reflective and fluorescent chemicals impregnated. It may also be harder to read in bright light, and not all printer types are suitable for printing on such paper.
  • Special papers. Apart from normal, plain paper, there are many kinds of special papers, with different textures. Using such types of papers for your business card will surely draw attention. However, not all of them are printer-friendly, so you need to see whether the text and images you wish to print actually look good on that particular paper type. If you want special effects, like embossed fonts and others, be careful to choose a paper that is suitable for this.
  • Printer particularities. Some people choose to print their business cards by themselves. This allows you to save some money, but remember to verify how your printer can deal with the particular type of paper you choose. Regular inkjet printers often have problems with paper that is too thick or with a special texture. Laser printers are not suitable for glossy papers. Even if you choose to go to professional printers, you should ask exactly what types of paper can they work with.
  • Environmental concerns. Many people are interested in using products made of materials whose production is as environment-friendly as possible. Nowadays, it is easy to find recycled paper, and it comes in many different varieties, so using it does not limit your design options. You may also choose producers that employ sustainable forestry practices to obtain their raw materials. Chlorine-free paper is another “green” option; it means that much less toxic waste is released during paper production.
  • Printing process. There are many special options when printing business cards, such as foil stamping, embossing or letterpress. If you choose to use them, you need to be sure that you have a suitable paper type. If you have access to such technology and you decide to do it by yourself, always print some test sheets, to see how the final product looks like.
  • Paper availability. Regular, plain paper is usually easy to get from about anywhere, but, if you choose some special type, it may not be readily available to your supplier. Usually, paper vendors or printers do not keep large stocks of special papers, due to obvious economical reasons. So, this means that if you order a large amount of special paper, you will probably need to wait until it gets shipped from the paper mill, which can be located anywhere in your country or even abroad. This not only means wasting some time, but also higher costs.

Spending the Right Price for Business Card Paper

You should keep in mind that paper usually takes around one third of the overall printing costs. This may mean quite a sum to be spent.

Before choosing a particular type of paper (and before even deciding to print business cards), you need to set up a budget for the whole operation. There are several ways to save money and balance these costs. For example, printing the business cards by yourself spares you from some costs, so you may invest in a more expensive paper (however, unless you have access to high-quality printing devices and the knowledge needed, this is not really advisable).

You may choose to save money by buying cheaper paper. What can be less expensive than plain, dim, uncoated white paper (saving money on paper thickness is really not advisable, because your final product will certainly have a short lifespan)? However, this also means getting less resistant and much less attractive business cards that are barely noticeable to your potential client.

Think of the whole process of printing business paper as a marketing investment. You should think of what your target clients are like, what kind of information you wish to print (text, images, QR codes etc.), what the budget you can allocate is and what could the return of this investment be.

The first thing to consider when choosing a particular paper type is whether it is suitable for the kind of information you wish to print. This is essential. After that, just try to balance the attractiveness and cost criteria.

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