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How to Customise a Business Card Template in Adobe InDesign

December 3, 2015 - Uncategorized

Final product image
What You’ll Be Creating

In this Quick Tip, we’ll look at how you can transform a minimal business card template, creating something that’s more unique and individual.

You don’t need to put in a huge amount of work to give your cards character; read on to discover three super-simple ways to give your design a cool makeover.

Begin With a Minimal Business Card Template

Let’s start with a minimal business card template, like this one. 

minimal card front
minimal card reverse
Minimal Business Card Template

Now there’s nothing wrong with ultra-minimal layouts—I happen to be a big fan of fuss-free design—but sometimes you want to give your card that extra bit of personality to help it stand out from the crowd.

Rather than starting with something complex, and stripping it back, begin with a template that has few embellishments, but has a strong grid structure. 

This one is perfect. The grid work is all done for you, and the simple tab running along the top of the design and line along the lower margin give us some elements to format.

grid on front
grid on reverse

Download the template, then open it in your software of choice. This template comes in Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator file formats, but I’ve moved the content over to Adobe InDesign, as I feel most comfortable with editing the card in here. 

new document window
card in InDesign

Choose whichever software you feel most comfortable with using; all the tips covered here can be applied in any program without a problem.

1. Big Up Your Background

If you want to keep the main elements of the minimal design intact, the simplest change you can make is to switch up the background of your card.

For an ultra-minimal design that packs a punch, experiment with bold color combinations. To imitate this color pairing, set the background of the card to a zesty orange CMYK swatch (C=0 M=57 Y=95 K=0) and the text color to a pale ice-blue swatch (C=36 M=0 Y=2 K=3).

front with color
reverse with color

If your printer can offer multiple designs in one print batch (online digital print services can often provide this), why not create five or so different color combinations?

To make more of a statement, and perhaps more a direct statement about the card owner’s occupation, consider swapping your color background for a photo. 

Dramatic, sweeping photos which don’t have too much variation in color, like this photo of space, will work really well, as will super-close-up shots, like zoomed-in photos of flowers.

photo background
purple reverse

Maximise contrast by pulling out text in a contrasting light or dark color.

2. A Simple Alignment Switch

It’s amazing how simply adjusting the alignment of text can transform the look of your business card.

Flushing your text centrally (in InDesign, go to Window > Type & Tables > Paragraph, and choose Align Center from the options running along the top of the panel) instantly makes headings and body text appear more formal and elegant. 

If you want to create a more formal or more corporate design, consider aligning your text in the dead-center of the card.

Divide up the name and occupation headings with a decorative divider, like this one taken from the glyphs available in Davys, to add an ornamental flourish.

align center text

On the reverse of the card, switch the left-hand text to align right, and the right-hand text to align left, and move them closer to each other, with a 5 mm gutter between them, down the center of the card. Frame with smaller dividers above and below the text.

flush to center text

A more formal design like this would suit a chic monochrome color scheme (use a Rich Black swatch to achieve a deep inky black), or consider letterpress or embossed print finishes instead to give the cards a subtly luxurious texture.

3. Personalise Your Card With a Signature

A truly personal touch you can give to your minimal card design is to replace the font used for the name on the card with your own handwriting. This instantly gives a unique character to your design, and makes the card appear instantly more ‘branded’.

Write your name on a piece of paper in a black ink pen and scan into your computer (or simply take a photo with your phone). Open in Adobe Illustrator and use the Image Trace window (Window > Image Trace) to create a vector version of your name. Then simply Copy and Paste directly into your business card layout.

If your handwriting’s illegible (like mine is), the neater alternative is to use a script font with a natural, handwritten style. Try out Alberts Script Land or Learning Curve Pro, which I’ve used in this example. 

handwritten script font

Learning Curve Pro also has a Dashed style, which looks great for craft occupations, like tailors, seamstresses and fashion designers. I also adjusted the Stroke Type (in InDesign, go to Window > Stroke) to Dashed (3 and 2) to give the line a thread-like design.

reverse handwritten

To mimic the colors used here, set the background to C=73 M=10 Y=23 K=0, and the text color to C=5 M=0 Y=14 K=3.


Minimal business cards don’t need to be dull—we’ve looked at three easy-peasy ways to give your cards added character and a unique look without adding too much embellishment or fuss. When you come to edit a minimal template, you can now try to:

  • brighten the design with a bold color combination
  • …or enliven your layout with a photo background
  • align text centrally on the front of the card and, on the reverse, pull in text towards the center by flushing right and left, to make the card appear more formal
  • personalise your card with a handwritten name, set in either your own handwriting or in a script font
final product

Source: Design – Tuts