Mixing Landscape & Portrait Formats (Business Card)

timfm's picture

Hi Typos,

What are people's thoughts about having a business card which is landscape on one side and portrait on the other? Does anyone have examples of this? I'd like to hear pros and cons of such a layout.

I did a little quick research into how people hold/handle and flip cards, and was quite surprised that there are actually a number of different ways people do this.


jeffrey's picture

I almost always flip a card the wrong way when looking at it, on the horizontal axis, even though I know that it will likely be upside down. The only real con I can think of is that in organizers, vertical has a small disadvantage. Or it could be an advantage, as it asks for more attention.

Chris Rugen's picture

If you put the hard info in landscape and the more promo/splashy stuff in portrait, that'd probably be the best. This way you do something unique on the attention-getting side and keep it traditional for the side most often used in organizers (as Jeffrey mentioned).

Honestly, I don't think mixing them is bad at all, as long as you aren't ingnoring any usage issues specific to the project. People tend to get conservative out of fear, rather than actual needs, with their business cards. If it fits the project, I say go for it.

aluminum's picture

"People tend to get conservative out of fear, rather than actual needs, with their business cards."

I used to agree with that until work with a very talented salesperson/account manager a few jobs back.

He pointed out how truly functional business cards can become and that they really need to fit the proper use. His main point, which I've found is fairly true, is that many, many folks still use rolodexes and, as such, it's only a good thing to have a landscape card with all the pertinent info on one side.

A flash b-card is still a great ice-breaker/memory-sticker, of course, so I now tend to make one side of the card practical, the other side flashy.

Miss Tiffany's picture

I guess I'm conservative. I wouldn't suggest rotating anything unless the purpose and/or reason is a conceptually appropriate thing to do.

blackbirdsings's picture

Interesting topic to come along as i am addressing this issue currently.

I have a graphic treatment along with the identity in front in landscape. Then i have two versions of the back, one an appointment card and the other a business card, but both have the name and contact material on both. I tried to make it landscape, but it came off looking odd since I didn't want to use a light background. So i kept the format horizontal. This by the way is for a salon.

I understand the practical reasons for perhaps not rotating type, but maybe we all are thinking too much when there suddenly has to be a conceptual purpose to designing a vertical business card. I have a card from MetaDesign and i really don't think there was a conceptual purpose behind it other than differentiation. Is that conceptual enough?

david h's picture

For ideas see:

Best of Business Card Design 6 (Best of Business Card Design)
by Blackcoffee Design Inc.

Chris Rugen's picture

I'm developing some stuff right now where 'being able to write info on the back' was desire voiced for the design. This pretty much eliminates dark/lush colors on the back, which is common for two-siders. It'll be conservative, but that's not a bad thing by any stretch. It's what's called for. I agree with blackbirdsign that concept and practicality really are married for business cards and sometimes the concept is catching the eye and mind of the recipient, even if they are inconvenienced at the rolodex.

If any of you have Punchcut's business card (it happens to by laying on my desktop as I write this), they've got a portrait info side, landscape fluff side, type in different directions, and a slightly slimmer format. But all of these moves work with the very restrained type to show personality and interest without looking like a novelty or a little circus. Plus, the design allows them to be distinct but still have their name in big red caps for the rolodex users. Sacrifice a bit of convenience for a bit of distinction.

If there's no reason not to make a business card stand out, why wouldn't you?

timfm's picture

Thanks everyone for your responses.

I guess what it comes down to is what is appropriate for the specific project/task.

In the case of a current corporate identity on which I'm working, the "fluff" side worked better in potrait considering the type layout and messaging -- whereas the "info" side was obviously best done in landscape.

I've just posted the card, letterhead, and envelope over here:


I'd appreciate your fedback before I take it to the client (SOON).

Thanks again.


Bouch's picture

I've had several cases where the front of a b-card was landscape and the back was portrait. My opinion is the left side of the front needs to be the top of the back. This works well for right-handed people. Also, there is a real world example of this that has been in use for many years. Your paycheck – all checks for that matter. Top of one side with the left of the other. That's my take.

Strangely, I had an argument with a printer who kept ignoring my instructions on how I wanted this type of card setup. He insisted, as a matter of standards, that they always oriented the two sides right side to top.

I've handed this type of card setup to unsuspecting people and watched how they flip it over. They get it right about half the time.

timfm's picture


This was my next question. The reseach I did yielded the same results as your suggestion that the left-front should be the top-back.


Hildebrant's picture

"If you put the hard info in landscape and the more promo/splashy stuff in portrait, that’d probably be the best"

I agree with this, too. We find ourselves doing this very thing, QUITE often -- maybe too often, now that I reflect. ;)

Dan Weaver's picture

Put the hard information on the horizontal side and do what ever you want on the other side. Once in the rolledex it will never be seen. I imagine by now no one even keeps business cards they just plug-in the email and website info into their e-rolledex. That begs the reason for even doing a two sided card.

Hildebrant's picture

I really can't remember the last time I even saw a rolodex. If anything, I have seen the little multipage portfolios that people slide cards into. They are much like a little picture album -- but with business cards.

What are the views of 'non-traditional' card sizes?

We normally don't work with a size that is larger than the standard convention (3.5" x 2").

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