Lesson 43: Give me your translator’s business card…

The Chartered Institute of Linguists’ event on last Saturday – Members’ Day – was full of interesting seminars, networking opportunities and professional debates. I also managed to talk to a few colleagues and I added some new business cards to my collection. While I was filing them in my business card holder (by language, of course), I started to appreciate how different they are. Some of these business cards also started me thinking that we don’t always get it right.

But we should. Let me share some of my views (not unsupported) on creating and giving out an effective translator’s business card. Disclaimer: I’m not saying that mine is the best.


I know that it’s an ordeal for some of us to order business cards from a printing company. In the end, we’re just translators, right? Wrong! Printing business cards on your own printer is not such a great idea because you don’t want your business cards to crumple within seconds. And please if you really have to print them at home, don’t use scissors – buy a guillotine. If you’re ordering business cards from a printing company, it doesn’t really matter if it’s thick or thin, glossy or matte. We’re not CEOs of multimillion companies. Unless you want to make a statement and use 100% recycled paper because you translate about recycled materials.


I’d recommend against anything of non-standard size. Of course there may be slight variations, but if you go for something really different, you’re risking not fitting in any business card holder. If your business card is causing problems, it may be left somewhere loose in a drawer and forgotten forever.

Front and back

Back in the old days (and for some printing companies – still), printing on both sides of a business card was quite expensive. Luckily, these days are over. We’re now free to print on both sides and we should use

all space that’s available. I have all my details on one side and my logo on the other. Some of the business cards I have slogans at the back, or a list of available services, or photos from interesting parts of the world. Everything is better than blank space. Oh well, everything apart from “Free business cards at…”.


So what should we have on our business cards? The absolute essentials are: name and surname (almost everyone got it), professional headline (what do you do), languages (something not to forget), telephone, email and website address (if you have a website). Some people give their postal addresses. I don’t, would anyone care to tell me why I should? Regarding additional information, most of the business cards I’m looking at right now contain details such as degrees obtained, qualifications gained, memberships, etc. Good!


I support adding some life to your business cards. Even a small graphical element brings some life and spice to your card. As long as it’s relevant. You can only imagine what’s not relevant and I’m not going to give examples, as I don’t want anyone to recognise their business cards here. The safest move is to add your logo.


I’m a traditionalist and minimalist when comes to colours. My business cards are brown and white and that’s it. Always dark text on bright background and no funky colours. But I know some of you aren’t! You love experimenting with colours, and I have nothing against it, as long as I can read the text.

Who’s here to challenge any of my points?
On another note, how many business cards do you use a year? Do you think we still need business cards at all?

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Category: Business card

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