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How-to-guide for making a business card in Adobe InDesign

Author: Carl Heaton
He is our senior instructor and originally from Manchester UK. Carl teaches our Web Design and Online Marketing Courses.
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A business card is a simple but important asset to anyone – and they are also really easy to create using Adobe InDesign. Got yourself a phone number, website or email address? OK, let’s begin!
A business card is a simple but important asset to anyone – and they are also really easy to create using Adobe InDesign. Got yourself a phone number, website or email address? OK, let’s begin!

Open Adobe InDesignFirst open Adobe InDesign and start a new document. In the “number of pages” enter 2. In the page size we’re going to enter a standard business card size, 85mm for the width and 50mm for the height (note that if you use inches or centimetres, you can simply enter “50mm” and it will automatically convert it to your preferred unit). In the “Columns” you can put in “1”. For the margins I’m entering 8mm, this puts a 8mm ruler on edge each, defining the area where it’s not safe to put type (in case you send it the printer and the cutting is inaccurate). Now, if you look to the right hand side of the dialog box and says “More options” – click that and it will now offer you bleed and slug options. Bleed is the area outside the trim marks that we add so that when a printed page is trimmed inaccurately it doesn’t show the edge of a background or image. The slug is an area where we can add information for the print personnel to read – such as who the designer is, contact details, ink details, any special information. For a job like this, we only need bleed – put 3mm into the bleed box and leave the slug at zero.

Now you can press OK and we can begin. Firstly I want you to go to the master page A – to do this go to your “Pages” panel or go Menu / Window / Pages. Double click A-master. We’re going to add some rulers here. If we add them to our A-master page they will automatically be added to our pages (who are slaves to the master page).

Setting up guide lines

I find it useful to add rulers for horizontal middle, the vertical middle and sometimes even “thirds rules” – rulers that divide the area into thirds. Here’s how to do it. Firstly the vertical / horizontal ruler. Take a ruler from the side and start to move it to around the middle of the page, you’ll feel InDesign grip it at 42.5mm (it has a canny feeling you want to align a ruler to the middle). Do the same for the horizontal middle. Now, take your rectangle tool (shortcut = M) and create a rectangle that goes from your top left margin to the bottom right 5mm margin. It doesn’t have to have a colour, as we’re going to use this to create our “thirds rules”. With the rectangle selected, double click on the scale tool in the toolbox. A dialog will pop up, enter 33%. The rectangle will scale to ⅓ its original size. Drag rulers from the left and top that align with your edges of your rectangle é voila! We have defined our rule of thirds in our print area. Delete the rectangle, as unfortunately for him his usefulness has come to an end. So long sucker.


Now go to the “Pages” panel click on page 1. You’ll see your clean white page with the rulers already defined. Time to begin. Don’t forget to save at this point, should anything unexpected happen (this is a reminder to keep coffee well away from your keyboard).

Guide lines in InDesign

For this design I’m going to put the Web Courses Bangkok logo on page 1. And on page 2 I’m going to add the contact details. So I draw a rectangle frame for placing an image / vector graphic from the top left of the print area to the bottom right. I go Menu / File / Place and search for Web Courses Bangkok logo and press OK. I then do a sneaky trick and press command-option-shift-E (Mac) or control-alt-shift-E (PC). This will automatically fit the content to my frame whilst keeping the proportions the same. To find this in the menu go Menu / Object / Fitting / Fit content proportionally. I then switch to my Direct Selection and move the logo to exactly where I want it. Boom, front side done in record time.

Contact Details

Side 2. I’m going to create a background using the WCB colour swatches. I’m going to draw a rectangle (Rectangle tool – shortcut = M) from top left bleed corner to bottom right bleed corner. This way if the trimming goes horribly wrong, no white paper will be seen. Easy. Now I’m creating a type frame for my name, going from the left top of the type area to the right hand edge of the first third rule. I enter my name. Then I create a new type frame top left of the first vertical third to bottom right of the type area. This is where I enter my details. Once I’ve adjusted the type sizes and colours it’s done – we now have a 2 sided business card ready for export to PDF and send to the printers. Go make yourself a coffee, you deserve it.

Interested in Learning Adobe InDesign?

Adobe InDesign is quickly becoming one of our most popular private courses and Daniel has already helped many produce magazines both online and offline. If you are interested in taking a course please email [email protected] or click here to contact us.

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