What are Business Cards?

While the term business card represents the exact form and functionality of a - well - business card (a card that is used for the purpose of business), it's a topic worth exploring, nonetheless.

Here we go.
Business cards: a definition

Traditionally, business cards are used as a primary means of business people presenting their contact information to other businesses and partners or potential customers and clients.

Typically presented in a compact, rectangular format, a business card features a valuable mix of graphical content, branding and key contact details aimed at offering critical information while creating an impactful first impression.

To put the visual value of a business card into living, breathing perspective, here is a traditional rectangular-style business card from our personal library:


Even in the digital age, business cards are an effective networking tool thriving and in countries including China and Japan where the exchange of business cards is almost ritualistic. Business cards offer a physical way of sharing information about who you are, what you do, and what you're all about.

Having your business card ready to present to others when required demonstrates a higher level of professionalism, and even today, these miniature promotional works of art are one the world’s most effective direct marketing tools.
Business cards: the origins

Here's a brief glimpse at the origins of business cards for your reading pleasure:

Initially known as 'trade cards', business cards began their life back in 17th century England. As there were no notable street numbers in London at the time, these ‘trade cards’ had two primary functions: advertising and navigation - yes, they were mini maps as well as promotional tools.

By the late 1800s the popularity of trade cards had spread across the country and overseas, becoming a tried and tested promotional tool for everything imaginable, from baby milk and pianos to live produce patent medicines. The business card, as we know it today, was born.

Of course, over the centuries, advancements in printing and technology have transformed the business card, making it a more visually-striking, innovative and functional networking tool than ever before - but let’s not forget that it all began with the trade cards of the 17th century.

Business cards: the sizing

These days, business cards come in all kinds of wonderful shapes, sizes and mediums, but for your reference, here is a rundown of standard, or traditional, business card sizes according to region:


A standard European business card size is 90 mm (3.543 inches) in Width and 55 mm (2.165 inches) in Height. This can vary slightly depending on your printer, so make sure to check in advance the preferred size used by your supplier.


North America:

A standard North American business card size is 89 mm (3.5 inches) in Width and 51 mm (2 inches) in Height.

Want to know more about business cards? Get in touch and we’ll be happy to answer any business card related questions you may have.

Have more questions? Submit a request