Guide to Card Styles

Not so long ago the birth announcement consisted of a small card, announcing the baby’s name and date of birth, attached with a ribbon to a larger card, showing the parents’ names. And not too far in the past, the baby shower invitation was an unadorned correspondence card. Today, cards for announcing baby’s birth, invitations for inviting guests to a baby shower, and other baby stationery in general have evolved into a fusion of shapes, sizes, and folding styles. Whether you’re looking to convey elegance, whimsy, modernity, or simplicity, the physical characteristics of an announcement or invitation can be as important as its printed design.

Flat Card
Some things never seem to change like the age-old idea that less is more. Maybe that’s why the flat card is still one of the most popular styles for announcements and invitations. As the name implies, this card is a flat single sheet of paper with no folds and is usually rectangular in shape. Often made of a heavier card stock, the flat card is substantial enough to be presented on its own. The event information is printed unabashedly on the front of the card and is immediately seen by the recipient upon opening the envelope.

Sometimes a flat card is also referred to as a panel card when it is framed by an embossed or debossed border. The panel card is the most traditional and commonly used format for wedding invitations.

For a twist on the traditional form, there is the square card. This is a relatively recent style that is becoming popular among modern brides and young parents. The card retains a classic look, but its perfectly square shape stands apart from the ordinary. Some larger sized card may require additional postage to mail.

The slim or long card is another variation on the traditional rectangular card. The aspect ratio (length to width) can vary, but it is noticeably taller than wide. The event information is usually printed in portrait orientation to accentuate the slenderness of the card. It is commonly used for invitations to birthday parties, but can be a unique presentation style for other occasions.
Layered birth announcement

The layered card is a recent phenomenon. Distinctly “handcrafted” in appearance, the card consists of two or more layers of flat unfolded paper commonly held together with adhesive or double-sided tape to form a fairly thick card. Each layer added is smaller than the layer below it and can be made of different types of paper ranging from heavy card stock to delicate decorative paper. The individual layers can also be accented with scallop edges, rounded corners, or other edge cuts.

Closely related to the layered card is the overlay style card. The overlay is a charming decorative feature to an otherwise unassuming card. Often made of translucent vellum, the overlay is a separate sheet of paper – slightly smaller or the same size as the card – that is attached to the front of the card and is secured with a ribbon, string, clip, or other fasteners. The event information can be printed directly on the vellum or on the card itself. When the information appears on the card, the overlay is either left blank or printed with a simple design that allows an unobstructed view of the card below.

The side-fold card is a sheet of paper folded in half with the fold on the left side. Because the card opens like a book, it is also referred to as a book-style card. The event information can be printed on the outside cover or on the inside. Sometimes the introductory part of the event information (e.g., a quote, invitational line, etc.) appears on the front and the rest of the message is printed on the inside. The inside of the card can act as a holder for smaller inserts such as direction cards, photos, etc. The side-fold is versatile and can be used for announcements, invitations, brochures, or greeting cards.

This card opens up like a matchbook cover with a single fold along the top and is sometimes called an informal note because it is traditionally used to issue informal invitations. The card can be folded exactly in half, like the side-fold style, or it can be folded so that the front panel is slightly shorter than the back panel to reveal a glimpse of the color or text on the inside of the card. It may also feature a flap that catches the top panel and holds it down, just like a matchbook. Similar to the side-fold style, the event information can appear on the front or inside of the card. The top-fold is appropriate for announcements and invitations, and is also commonly used for thank you cards. When used as a thank you card or an informal, the front can be preprinted with a greeting (e.g., “Thank You”), monogram, or name.

The French-fold card is a single sheet of paper that is folded along the left hand side, and then folded again from top to bottom to form a folded announcement or invitation. Commonly, the front of the card has a design and the inside has the printed text.

This card is folded twice to create a three-paneled surface where one fold overlaps the other. The trifold resembles a letter folded by hand for inserting in an envelope, except the text is printed in portrait format within the individual panels. The event information is contained mainly in the center panel and accent text (e.g., verse, quotation, etc.) can be displayed on the side panels.

The gatefold card is folded twice to create three panels that can be used in portrait or landscape format. The outside panels are folded inward to meet in the center and open like French doors in a dramatic presentation of the message within. The outside panels do not touch or barely touch in the center when folded and can be sent without a closure, but are often fastened with a ribbon, string, wrap, wax seal, decal, or other decorative touches. Gatefold cards are great for greetings, invitations, and announcements.

Accordion Fold
Also known as z-fold, the accordion fold consists of a sheet of paper folded twice in “z” configuration to create a three-paneled card. Because the panels nest together, the card is opened with the panels in sequence for a very dramatic effect. An advantage of this folding style is that it allows printing on the front and on the inside of the card, without having to run the card twice through the printer.

Pocket Card
The pocket card is folded multi-piece typically consisting of a folded pocket and flat insert card. The event information is printed on the insert card and then tucked into the pocket before mailing. The pocket card is a popular style for printable invitations and announcements because the flat insert card is ideally suited for feeding into a personal printer while the folded pocket, which does not have to be printer-compatible, can be used to add style and personality to an otherwise plain card. The pocket itself normally has a full back panel but the front panel can take on various shapes. A corner pocket, for example, has a front panel that wraps around one of the bottom corners of the back panel and reveals almost the entire content of the insert card. A half pocket has a front panel along the vertical or horizontal half of the back panel. Whatever the shape, the pocket card is a unique way to add dimension to your message.

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