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It doesn't matter if you have the most amazing design for your business cards, the best paper, and the latest pocket technology – if your wording isn't right, you can't expect people to get in touch.

Striking the right balance between white space and information can be tricky: the decision to keep something on a card isn't one taken lightly. Keep in mind that business cards should always look crisp and clean, something that white space helps emphasise. Don't be afraid to be different: if you use Twitter more than a phone, print your handle, not your number.

What you include on a business card also depends on whether it's for professional or personal use. While the information on personal cards might not matter so much, you need to consider carefully what to include on cards intended to promote your business, as it could lead to extra sales or developing important relationships. You don't want to leave people guessing who you are or how to get hold of you, while also ensuring your cards look as smart and well designed as possible.

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The Basics

Don't worry about cluttering up your business card with irrelevant pieces of information: as long as someone has your name and a way of contacting you, they'll be able to get in touch. However, providing such a scarce amount of information can be a drawback, especially if you've swapped cards with someone at an event, and they can't quite remember whether you were the salesperson, or the graphic designer.

To ensure that every recipient has the best chance of remembering who you are, where you are, and what you do, add in your job title – just make sure it's descriptive enough to give them a clue. Adding your company name or website can be another way to help give someone more information about you, without having to crowd your card with small details.

Be ruthless when you decide what contact details to put on. An email address and your preferred social network tag (if you use any) is a good idea, while phone numbers can be controversial: are you ready to have a proper conversation with this person? Or are you simply just not a phone person?

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The Extras

If you think your card looks too empty with the bare minimum, there are a few extra things you should consider adding. Phone numbers aren't the first thing to be swapped at events, or when meeting someone for the first time: usually email or Twitter handles are normal, however, if you fancy a touch of old-school networking, put your number (or even fax!) on. Remember to put your personal line, rather than a general number: anyone can search your company to get that – it's not worth taking up space on your card for!

Go even more old school with an address: this is probably only suitable for people with shops or businesses that require plenty of face to face interaction – or those of you with offices that welcome people dropping by. If you don't like the idea of someone stopping by, just to 'have a look round', keep your address off.

Adding your tagline or the company's brand promise is a brilliant touch. Giving a few words that describe your motives, goals and values will help keep you in the forefront of a recipient's mind. Be careful not to put a description on the card though – if you don't have a snappy line, leave it: better to be understated than overkill.

The Definite Don'ts

A business card isn't your CV or a cover letter, and it's important to remember that. Don't fill up every inch of white space with your elevator pitch, or a summary of yourself: hopefully you did that before you handed your card over.

If you're a graphic designer, illustrator, or something equally arty, it's quite easy to show off your talents with a beautifully designed business card. However, if your talents lie elsewhere, it's virtually impossible to showcase your skills on a card. While you may want to, it's not worth it. Link to your website or portfolio, and hope that you made enough of an impression to make this person visit it.

Nevertheless, with the surge of new business card designs entering the market, you can now pick from styles that unfold to show off a piece of work, or form a mini-booklet, perfect for displaying your favourite pieces.

Think carefully about what contact details you put on a business card: it's a waste of space to list your mobile, home phone, direct number, and general line, so just stick to one.

Author bio
This post was written by Matt Payne who is the owner of Oomph, a plastic card printer company based in Hampshire. Please visit online at http://www.madebyoomph.co.uk/ for a full range of cards and printing services.

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