When I was studying, many years ago, one of the first books recommended to me was “Dorothy Goslett’s Professional Practice of Design”. I remember a section all about costing your work and your overheads. Inevitable as it may be, working out your finances and considering what you want your business stationery to do, as well as what you will use it for and how frequently you think it will be needed, may not be your idea of fun but, it can sway your decision based on quantity and need.

Nowadays, especially if you are just starting out in business, the digital print process is easier and more suited to obtaining a small quantity of items that you can make, print and buy yourself. You do not necessarily have to get a large quantity of stationery printed all at once. Although some may say that it’s not professional to create your own business stationery, most people with a computer and software can create their stationery and print as needed, or create a logo and then upload to websites that lets you shuffle your images about and add text on the web, click the submit button to pay of course, and there you have it – stationery, for not a lot of outlay sent to your door. My only note is that you can be restricted to what services they offer.

Then, there is the more traditional option of getting someone to design your stationery and/or print for you, if the price is right. Visit your local high street friendly copy/print shop, and get some advice from them or show them your ideas and see what they can come up with, they should also be able to supply finishing services such as creasing, folding, binding, stapling, stitching, etc, but additional finishes such as varnishes may not necessarily be undertaken on their premises as they may send your request out to another company or larger printers.

You can get a lithographer printer to print you stationery needs. This type of printing is generally expensive for small quantities of printed material as the litho process is more suited to printing larger print runs right upto quantities for your daily newspaper and magazines. One advantage is that they will be able to print onto different types of paper, cards, and boards which have special coatings and textures and use colours of ink which are more true to metallic colours for example using special inks. Most litho printers will also be able to supply design services and finishes to your printing such as embossing, varnishing, thermography, dye cutting, binding, folding, stitching etc, all under one roof.

Some litho/digital printing companies are solely based on-line or have web facilities where you can upload digital artwork that you have created for print. These printing companies generally specify how they want the artwork produced, constructed and formatted,  to suit their printing proceedures. If the artwork supplied in not sutable for their printing processes then it is up to you or the designer who created the artwork to make sure it is deemed “ready for print”. The choice of paper, and card to print your statonery onto maybe limited but the selection of product choice can range from a business card to a folded glossy varnished brochure. 

The use of business stationery has modernised over the years, especially since the digital word is now so accessible, quick and portable. Depending on your needs, you may not have to print any stationery, except say, some business cards. Sending out your business information electronically can be quicker at times than the mail service and utilises the fact that most people check their email frequently every day.

Perhaps today, we only need business cards for when we are out and about or meeting people, because sometimes it’s just a nice touch to be given something tangible to keep for reference, like a business card ?