Designing Postcards

One reason that postcards are so popular is because the are very cost effective both in terms of postage and printing. One cost saving method is to vary color and black and white within a single postcard. In the last example, you may have noticed that the postcard shown was black and white and mostly text based. The image below shows the other side of the postcard which is full color and features an image of the artist’s artwork.
By printing full color on one side and black and white on the other there was a great cost savings. For this particular project 1,000 postcards were printed and the savings was over $100. If you factor those savings over the course of a year with 10-20 different events to be publicized the savings are $1,000-2,000, enough to even offer another event to your calendar.
Even with the one-color mailing side, the final design still has a striking image and all of the pertinent information. Nothing is lost in the process.

Designing to Stand Out

Your design needs to stand out from other mailings so that your recipients will notice and read your information.

Size & Orientation

Size is a big factor in how noticeable a piece is initially. Think about the mail that you get each week. I’m betting that most of it is a standard envelope size. When you receive something that isn’t the standard size it sticks out, literally. You’re forced to notice it because it isn’t like everything else. This graphic shows the standard postcard sizes with 6 in. x 11 in. being the largest postcard that you can mail. The larger sizes here are show being folded in half to fit within the size parameters of the smaller cards.

Smaller cards like the 4×6 might still blend in with other mail, but oversized postcards like the 6×11 will definitely stand out. They also allow more room if you had more text that needed to be included.

In addition to size, you can also use orientation to help your design stand out. The mailing side (with the postage and address information) must be horizontal to accommodate the postal service machinery, but the other side can be turned to any orientation. When someone receives the card and flips it over to view the front they will have to turn it twice, forcing them to interact longer with the piece. That extra time might increase the likelihood that they remember your message.


The visuals used on a postcard are important to its being noticed. They should clearly communicate a message and also be bold enough to grab someone’s attention. Take a look at this collection of postcards. Each design has a distinctive personality, but they all have singular focus through bold typography and clear graphics.

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