One practice that’s common across virtually all businesses is the exchange of business cards. Starting with Outlook 2007, Microsoft aligned itself with that tradition (and with other email products) by adding simple, user-friendly support for electronic business cards. These cards, created using the industry standard vCard (.vcf) format, not only look good on the screen, but can be exchanged easily with most any other modern email or contact management program.
However, while working with electronic business cards in Outlook 2007 is easy, designing an effective, attractive business card, whether electronic or printed, can be an elaborate production with designers, focus groups, and so on. This puts the art of designing quality electronic business cards outside the scope of this article. What we’ll do is talk only about how you create and use electronic business cards. It’ll be up to you to come up with a design you are proud of.
Creating Your Electronic Business Card
Whenever you create a contact, Outlook will automatically create a very basic electronic business card for it. These are simply lists of the basic information you entered for that contact, such as their name and address, along with a copy of the contact’s picture (if you have one). What follows is a high-level view of the steps necessary to create fancier cards to that replace the plain and frankly dull default ones.
To create an electronic business card for a particular contact, follow these steps:
- Open the contact you want to work on. You’ll see the current version of the card on the right side of the contact window.
- Right-click the current electronic business card, then click Edit Business Card to open the Edit Business Card dialog box.
- You’ll see numerous options and controls for modifying and controlling every aspect of the business card. Fortunately, Microsoft has simplified things by including an image of the business card here. That image changes its appearance as you make changes to the controls. This allows you to see the results of each change right away. That also means you can undo changes you don’t like and freely experiment with all the design possibilities.
- Once you’ve finalized what information you want to appear on the card, move over to the top of the Card Design section and work your way down each control, experimenting with different settings until you get a design that you like. To include an image other than the photo associated with the contact, click the Image button to insert it. Click Background to apply a background color to the card.
- Repeat the previous two steps in any order to refine and tweak your card design until it’s exactly the way you want it. Click OK when done.
Working with Your Electronic Business Card
Your new business card design will now be visible in Business Card view and when you attach your electronic business card to messages you send. To attach your electronic business card to a message you’re writing, first position the cursor in the message at the location where you want the business card to appear. Then go to the Include section of the ribbon and click Insert Business Card. The card appears at the location of the cursor in the body of the message and is attached (in .VCF format) to the message as well.