DIY Simple Business Cards with Scribus

This is a DIY tutorial illustrating how to build a simple business card using the free Scribus Desktop Publishing Software. The tutorial, however, has a different and greater purpose.

With services like VistaPrint and others, you can likely get a much better looking business card using one of their free templates than what you will get if you go through this tutorial. And with much less of a headache. As such, this tutorial is not so much about the specific product. It’s more about the process.

Building a business card in Scribus is about as simple a thing as you can do with the software. But learning this will give you the foundations you need to learn the software enough to do even greater things on your own down the road. This can further save you money and help you stand out in the crowd.

DIY-00-BC-FinalProductThis tut will teach you how to make a standard, horizontal business card like this one… ->

The basic tasks you will learn are:

  • Open and configure a Scribus document.
  • Insert and resize an image layer.
  • Insert a text layer.
  • Edit and modify the content and font of the text layer.
  • Replicate a text layer.
  • Export file as PDF.

You will first need to download and install Scribus here. PLEASE NOTE: I am using Scribus version 1.5.4 which is the latest and potentially buggy version. If you install the stable version 1.4.7 some things may look different than the screenshots below.

  1. Start Scribus
  2. Scribus New DocumentSet Document Size & Orientation
    1. Select “Custom” from the “Size” menu.
    2. Select “Landscape” from the “Orientation” menu.
    3. With the “Default Unit” set to “Inches”, set the width to 3.75 inches and height to 2.25 inches.
  3. Scribus Bleeds and MarginsSet Document Bleeds and Margins
    1. On the “Bleed” tab, set all bleeds to .125 inches (1/8 inch). A bleed of usually .125 inches is set for print documents to allow background images and colors to “bleed” all the way to the edge so you don’t have a white border.
    2. On the “Margins Guide” tab, set all margins to .125 inches. We set the .125 inch margin and keep our text and images within it to make sure all text and images are safe when the document is trimmed at the printer.
  4. Click “OK”
  5. Insert Your Logo.
    1. Scribus add imageInsert your logo by typing on the “I” key on your keyboard. Put your cursor on the upper-left blue margin line, hold down the mouse button and drag down and to the right blue margin line.
    2. Scribus Insert ImageWith the image layer selected hold down the “Ctrl” key and type the “I” key.
    3. Navigate to your logo, select it then click “OK”.
    4. In the “Properties” window select the “Image” controls. With “Free Scibus Image resizeScale” selected decrease the size of the image until the x and y DPI are at least 144 or the image is the size you want, whichever happens last (144 dpi is what you need to avoid blurry or grainy images when you print). Adjust the image layer boundary as needed.
      *** Pro Tip: if you double click on the image window you can adjust the image position inside the window. Hit the “esc” key to exit the window.
  6. Insert Text Layer for your name.
    1. Add a text layer by typing the “T” key on your keyboard or clicking the Text Tool icon TextToolIcon at the top. This will activate the text input cursor.
    2. Scribus Text LayerPut your cursor on the left blue margin line just below your logo, hold down the mouse button and drag down and to the right creating a box the total width of the print space and about 1/2 inch tall, more or less if need be.
    3. Scribus Text DialogueWith the text layer selected hold down the “Ctrl” key and type the “T” key. A text dialogue box will appear.
    4. Insert your Name then click the “Update Text” button. UpdateTextButton
    5. Scribus Modify FontWith the Text layer selected, select what font you want to use (I used Brandon Grotesque with a heavier weight) then adjust the font size in the “Text Properties” window. 20pt was good for this. Finally, set the alignment to “Center”.
  7. Replicate the “Name” text layer and modify to become your “Title” text layer.
    1. With your Name text layer selected hold down the “Ctrl” key on your keyboard and type “C” (that copies). Continue holding down the “Ctrl” key and type “V” (that pastes). You have just created a copy of your Name text layer and it will be directly on top of the original text layer.
      *** Pro Tip: Ctrl + C and Ctrl + V are the keyboard shortcuts for copy and paste respectively in almost all software.
    2. With your mouse click and hold the new layer and drag it just below your name. With the new text layer selected type “Ctrl” and “T” simultaneously as you did previously to activate the text input dialogue window. Replace your name with your title (owner, ceo, VP sales, etc) then click the “Update Text” button as before. UpdateTextButton
    3. Scribus Modify FontWith the Title text layer selected, reduce the font size to 11 or 12pt and then select italic from the Text Properties window.
  8. Replicate Your Title Text Layer and Modify for Your Contact Info.
    1. Copy and paste the Title text layer as you did with step 7-1.
    2. With your mouse move this new text layer below your title and adjust the height of the text layer to take up the remaining printable space.
    3. With the new text layer selected type “Ctrl” and “T” simultaneously as before.
    4. Enter your business address on the first line. Hit enter. On the second line enter your cell, office, and/or fax number. Hit enter. On the third line type your email address. Hit enter and on the final line enter your website address. Click the “Insert” button.
      *** Pro tip: When you have multiple phone numbers its a good idea precede each with a declaration as to what number it is (cell, office, fax, etc.). You don’t really need to do that with email addresses or web addresses because it’s pretty clear what those are.
  9. Adjust Positions and Dimensions of Layers.
    Print layout is all about proportions and positions. Play with the layout by nudging text layers in one direction or the other. Adjust font sizes and play with different fonts.
  10. Export the Document to PDF.
    1. Scribus Export PDFClick on File -> Export -> Save as PDF.
    2. Scribus PDF CompressionOn the “General” tab select “Compress Text and Vector Graphics” and set Compression Method to Automatic and Compression Quality to Maximum.
    3. Scribus PDF FontsOn the “Fonts” tab, click on “Embed All Fonts” then click “Save”.

That is a basic process for building a basic business card. It may seem daunting now but it does get easier. Any new software takes a little while to learn. But learning how to make your own cards, fliers, postcards, coupons, etc. can really save you some money and help develop your eye for business marketing. You just gotta take the first step, then the next, and so on.


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