Our guide to greeting card printing will help you create truly custom printed cards. Personalized greeting cards are so much more meaningful than an e-mail or e-card; they let family, friends, colleagues, and customers know that you’re thinking of them. This page provides the information that you need to design and print greeting cards for any occasion. After reading, visit our homepage for an overview of the online printing process. And, to get started on your project, check out our recommended custom printing services.
- Greeting Card Printing and Design
- Greeting Card Design
- Greeting Card Design – Tips
- Greeting Card Printing – Paper, Sizes, & Finishes
- Greeting Card Printing – Processes
- Custom Greeting Card Ideas
With just a computer, you can create an excellent greeting card design all on your own. One option is to develop your cards with graphic design software or a desktop publishing program. Photoshop, Illustrator, and Publisher can be used for personalized greeting cards, and while the first two programs cost money, Publisher is free with many Microsoft Office packages. Submission is easy: after completing the design, you simply send the file to the online printer. Print companies accept files from the majority of software out there, but just double check that they’ll take your file type.
Specialized greeting card software is another way to make personalized cards. This software is different from others because its main focus is on custom greeting cards. It’s easy to use and inexpensive to purchase, and many families and small businesses use the software for holiday cards and stationery. Since these are not full-blown graphic design software programs, you can learn them in just a few hours. Moreover, the software programs typically walk you through the design of the card, so you shouldn’t feel lost or overwhelmed if you undertake this project on your own.
Is it possible to accomplish your design online, without any professional or greeting card software? The answer is yes: online printing services offer free design templates that can be personalized on the company’s website. A greeting card template is either customized from scratch or pre-designed according to a specific theme. For example, pre-designed thank you greeting cards display the words “Thank You” on the front, along with a graphic design or a picture. A “from scratch” design template lets you customize the font, graphics, color, borders, and photos with the help of a design toolbar. Because of their simplicity, online design templates are great for those just starting off with designing and printing.
Instead of working with a greeting card template, you can always hire a graphic designer. For large companies that want corporate greeting cards for Christmas or the holidays, an in-house designer is a great choice. He or she is used to designing for the company, and you can be sure that the design is in line with the company’s style and image. Smaller companies, families, and individuals may want to contract a designer to handle all aspects of their holiday greeting cards. A handful of meetings with the designer is all you need for them to understand and then realize your vision. Online printing services also have design departments that can handle your Christmas greeting cards. These design departments work just like a design firm, and in many cases, cost a lot less.
Choose the Orientation
The most basic decision to make when printing greeting cards is the card orientation. Portrait (opening from the side like a book) or landscape orientations (opening from the bottom upwards) are your two options. Some cards, like birthday greeting cards, are often printed with a portrait orientation, while photo greeting cards are usually printed in a landscape format. There is no firm rule about which orientation is better, but landscape may be better for cards with photos. And while birthday greeting cards traditionally choose portrait, many new designs favor the landscape orientation.
Vary the Layout
Most commercial greeting cards are printed with a phrase or picture on the front, a message on the inner right side, and nothing on the back. However, your custom greeting cards don’t have to incorporate this traditional arrangement. Try using both inside panels for the message, or add graphics or color to the inner panels to make them more interesting. A motif or photo on the back panel is a nice way to take advantage of all of the available card space. Place your company logo or website address on the back, or for your personal cards, include your e-mail address.
Ponder the Purpose
Before thinking about how you want to create those personalized greeting cards, think about their purpose. (This step is relevant to businesses that want to maintain and strengthen their relationships with clients.) Holiday greeting cards can bring season’s greetings, as well as a discount for the holidays or the New Year. Tell customers how much you appreciate their business with thank you greeting cards, but also take the opportunity to talk about company news or special in-store events. And while these value-added cards are great, remember not to overdo it. If people sense that you’re using custom greeting cards only to promote your company, you and your business will lose points. If all you want to do is thank customers for a great year, make the focus of those cards only that.
Greeting card printing is done on thick, heavy paper called cover stock, or cardstock. (Cardstock is also the paper of choice for business cards and formal invitations.) Paper thickness is measured in points, with each point (pt) being one hundredth of an inch. Greeting card printing utilizes cardstock from 10-14 points, although 14pt is the standard option. You also need to choose between uncoated and coated paper; glossy or matte coated paper enhance the color and graphic design of any print product, while uncoated paper has a natural look. Between the coated options, glossy is shinier, and matte has a sophisticated, muted feel. For photo greeting cards, it’s best to use coated paper, or to print directly on photo paper. And for custom greeting cards that will include handwritten notes, uncoated paper is a smart option; it’s much easier to write on uncoated paper.
Coated cover stock can come with both sides coated (inside the card and outside) or just one side (outside shiny, the inside uncoated). As we mentioned, uncoated paper is best for writing notes by hand, which is why no coating on the inside is a convenient option. You’ll have no trouble writing your Christmas greeting cards with uncoated paper on the inside and a glossy finish on the outside. However, bigger projects like corporate greeting cards may not have the resources to hand sign every single one of them. In this case, coating on the outside and inside can complement nicely the pre-printed message from the company president.
Greeting card printing services offer 2 or 3 standard sizes. The most common options are 3.5 x 5, 4 x 6, and 5 x 7 inches. (These are the dimensions when folded in half.) Don’t forget to double check the card’s orientation; a 3.5 x 5 size could have a portrait or landscape orientation. When deciding on a size, remember that custom sizes are available as well; print companies can fill your order according to specific dimensions that you provide, and sizes usually can go as big as 13 x 17 inches. Finally, make sure that the chosen size fits into your envelopes; this step is especially important for a large order of business greeting cards that will be mailed out to a long list of clients. For more information, see our guide to envelopes.
Once you print greeting cards, you have the option of adding a finish to them to protect them from wear and tear. Some greeting card printing services include this as standard, while others charge a small fee. If you want to create them on uncoated paper, make sure that the printing company doesn’t add a finish automatically, unless of course that is what you prefer. Finishes create a shiny and professional look, and there are even some that protect against fading due to UV rays. Glossy is generally the only type of finish offered when printing greeting cards, but you may find a matte finish as well.
Greeting card printing services offer a few different options for color printing. Print in full color on the card’s outside and have a blank inner panel (annotated as 4/0), or keep full color on the outside and use only black ink on the inside (4/1). 4/4 printing is full color on both the inside and the outside. In terms of price, it is not that much more expensive to print personalized greeting cards with 4/4 color.
When planning to print greeting cards in quantities as small as 50 or 250, digital printing presses are used. Digital printing creates strong color, fine edges and great definition, and it’s the cheapest way to make custom greeting cards at the highest quality. There are less set-up costs involved with digital, which is why print services automatically select this option for smaller jobs.
For quantities of 250 or more, greeting card printing services select offset printing. Offset printing is the best method available in the industry, and offset produces vibrant colors, photographic quality images, and crisp lines. The high set-up cost means that this technique only makes sense for large quantities of personal or business greeting cards. It’s not economical to choose offset for orders under 250 units, but after 250, the unit price starts to decrease.
Foil stamping is a fancy technique that creates the effect of a gold or silver leaf on paper. It utilizes heat to fuse colored foil to paper, therefore creating the leaf effect. Foil stamping typically comes in gold or silver, but it’s also available in bronze, red, green, and blue. It looks beautiful on holiday greeting cards with accents like snowflakes, bells, and menorahs.
To make personalized greeting cards fold flat and smooth, they are printed flat and then scored along the spine. Some printers automatically score and fold the order before sending it, while others score and send them flat so that you can fold them before sending. Ask your print company how it handles scoring, and if you can choose how the custom greeting cards are mailed. If the printer normally sends them out flat, ask if it’s possible to add folding to your order; this extra can save your project precious time.
Here are some fun and creative greeting card ideas:
- Birthday greeting cards from companies to customers are a great idea because they make customers feel valued and important, and they maintain the relationship that you have with the client. Add value to these birthday greeting cards by including a birthday discount on the inside or back panel.
- Greeting card printing is a time and money-saver when done in large quantities; order blank custom greeting cards in bulk that you can use for any occasion, whether it’s for a birthday, holiday, or customer thank you card.
- Often, families use Christmas greeting cards as a way to catch up on what their loved ones have been doing during the year, but businesses can try this idea too. Use the inside or back of corporate greeting cards to explain the company’s history or discuss the business activities of the past year. Who said business greeting cards have to be serious? Insert fun facts about your company or industry to make customers laugh as they read your holiday greeting cards.
- Families with young children aren’t the only ones who can send out creative photo greeting cards. Use an office picture and an online design template to create a memorable holiday card. Customers will appreciate seeing the actual faces of the company, instead of just an impersonal business logo. Hand signing them makes a difference too.
We hope we’ve shown you that greeting card printing can be fast, fun, and easy. Feel free to refer back to this page should you have any printing or design questions as you make your custom greeting cards.