Visiting card

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A business card , more rarely also called a visit card, is a card with a person's name and other data .


About 7 × 9 cm, pre-printed business card with handwritten inscription “La Comtesse de Wallis née Comtesse Desfours ppc.”, Vienna around 1800
Visiting card from Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
A machine sold by Oscar Friedheim in Great Britain in 1889 for the production of up to 100,000 business cards per day
Front and back of a today's business card

The name business card comes from its original function: it used to be given to the servant or receptionist when visiting a high house , who then passed it on to the master of the house or the lady of the house. At court ceremonies , they were used by the master of ceremonies to publicly announce the guest.

Today, business cards are mainly exchanged in professional life - at trade fairs or conferences - especially during the first contact between potential business partners. A side effect is the discreet communication about your own position in the company.

Business cards rarely contain a photo, but always contain the name, address, and phone number of the person concerned. The company logo , company name and title and position of the person concerned are also printed on business cards . The reverse side can contain an English language version, a route sketch, a photo or other information.

With the change from a component of etiquette to a means of professional self-promotion, business cards can in individual cases also be supplemented with slogans or similar features for unique purposes. However, a design that is too boisterous is often perceived as intrusive and dubious. The business card should be distinguished from leaflets in business card format, which are used in event marketing to indicate events and the like, instead of transmitting personal contact information.

Business cards are stored and collected in special folders or rotary files, whereby it is becoming more and more common to scan the cards in order to have the contact details of the person concerned immediately available on the computer.


In earlier times, engravers printed the business cards.

Business cards in small numbers (as a temporary measure for new employees or for the private sector) are now often produced with commercially available printers .

Business cards for professional use are usually of printers in the offset printing process produced. The classic business card is printed on the finest cardboard, e.g. B. diplomatic cardboard or ivory cardboard. Particularly high quality cards are made using steel engraving . To do this, the print motif is engraved by hand in a steel plate. In contrast to the usual printed business cards, the printed motif is raised on these cards. This means that the writing stands out in three dimensions from the paper and also has a slight sheen. Cheaper variants with the same effect are the so-called UV spot varnish or partial UV varnish printing and the so-called thermal relief printing developed in the USA . The last two methods are very common in North and South America.

Online printing companies usually only offer simple natural paper boxes or matt picture printing paper, as the finest boxes are more difficult to print. The business cards are processed in standardized collective print forms with many other print jobs. However, if you want to order business cards yourself from online printing companies, you need to be able to create printable files, usually in PDF format . This can then be sent to the online printer when ordering.

In contrast to letters and the layout of letterheads, there is no DIN standard for business cards.

Formats and materials

Common formats

Business cards do not have a standardized format , but the size of the credit card (85.6 mm × 54 mm) has become common because it is the most convenient to transport and many storage aids are designed for this format.

At times, as a fad, opening business cards appeared to increase the usable area. However, this variant has the disadvantage that it can only present part of the printed contact data when it is stored in insert sleeves and has to be removed to read the inside pages.

width height used in
85 mm 55 mm Germany, England, France, Italy, Netherlands, Austria, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey
88.9 mm 50.8 mm USA, Canada (3½ × 2 in )
90 mm 55 mm Australia, Sweden, Norway, Denmark
90 mm 54 mm Hong Kong
90 mm 50 mm Argentina, Finland, Russia, Hungary, Poland, Romania
91 mm 55 mm Japan
width height format
74 mm 52 mm DIN A8
81 mm 57 mm DIN C8
85 mm 55 mm Bank card (EU)
85.6 mm
100 mm
54 mm
65 mm
Credit card (ISO 7810)
Credit card with photo

Usual materials

Cardboard business cards with a thickness of 150–300 g / m² are the most common.

Since business cards also serve as advertising media in addition to conveying information, they are sometimes also made of other materials (such as plastic, aluminum, stainless steel, wood or rubber) in order to attract particular attention.

Handling business cards ("etiquette")

In Germany

A business card should always be clean, flawless, and of good quality. Inexpensive prints (also from the computer) or handwritten corrections of the print are seen reluctantly in some places. Important information for the recipient can be noted on the back.

Cards to be handed over are often removed from a case , while cards to be received are taken into this or a special case.

A card placed on a card tray is often identified by a corner bent upwards, which also makes it easier to pick up the card from the tray. The meaning can be noted as an abbreviation on the back of the card.

  • Upper left corner bent: pv = "pour visiter", for visiting, especially if the visitor was not found
  • lower left corner bent: pf = "pour féliciter" = to congratulate / to congratulate
  • right upper corner bent: ppc = “pour prendre congé”, goodbye
  • lower right corner bent: pc = “pour condoler”, condolence

In addition to kinking, other corner markings have also become established.

In some beating student associations , the handing over of a business card torn in the middle is the requirement for a scale length or a duel .

In Japan

In terms of cleanliness and quality, the same applies as in Germany, whereby the business card ('' Meishi '') has a higher priority in Japan compared to Europe . Since Japanese names can be written with many different but identical characters, it is necessary to learn the correct spelling of a name. In addition, the exact position of the card holder in a company plays an important role in dealing with one another. The handing over of a card follows fixed procedures: The older or higher-ranking person hands over their card to the younger or lower-ranking person first. The handover takes place with both hands, whereby the orientation of the card should allow the recipient to read, and then bow. The card is then examined carefully and under no circumstances is it inserted immediately. Rather, it is carefully placed on its side; It is considered a particularly gross faux pas to put the card in your trouser or back pocket. The younger or lower-ranking person then presents the card in the same way. The card itself corresponds to the European one. As a rule, when the Japanese have regular contact with foreigners, they use a bilingual card with an English translation on one page.

Photographs on business cards

see relevant article at Visitformat .

See also


  • Matthias Gründig: The Shah in the box. Social image practices in the age of the carte de visite. Marburg: Jonas Verlag 2016. ISBN 978-3-89445-530-9
  • Gustav Pazaurek: Artistic Visiting Cards . In communications from the Württemberg Arts and Crafts Association , born 1907–1908, pp. 53–74 ( digitized version )
  • Dieter Urban: Design of business cards . (= Novelty practice). Bruckmann, Munich 1993, ISBN 3-7654-2632-6
  • Walter von zur Westen: On the history of the visit card . In communications from the Ex-Libris Association in Berlin , Vol. 29, 1919, No. 1–2, pp. 1–14

Web links

Commons : Business card  - album with pictures, videos and audio files
Commons : Visiting cards  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Business card  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations