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According to the Wikipedia entry on "Business Cards", various countries employ several standard business card sizes. US/Canada use 3.5 x 2in, UK uses 85 x 55mm, ect.

Apparantly, the following countries use a 90 × 50mm card: Argentina, Brazil, Czech Republic, Finland, Hungary, Israel, Kazakhstan, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Bulgaria, Latvia, Mexico and South Africa

That's great to know, and I'm sure it's accurate, but can anyone tell me what standard sets the sizes for those countries?

I know that many derive from ISO 216, or ISO/IEC 7810 ID-1, but why does that remaining bucket list of countries (and a few others) use a completely arbitrarily defined size? (90 x 50mm)? I would like to find out exactly what that standard is, or if it's just some sort of random cultural deviation.

To be a little more specific, I'm looking for where exactly the 90x50mm size comes from, and if there is any kind of standard behind it. I'd like something beyond simply "it's relatively close to ISO 216, or ISO/IEC 7810 ID-1".

Thanks for any help!

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2 Answers 2

Where does 90x50 mm derive from?

 #   mm              inches            aspect ratio
(1)  88.9 x 50.8     3.5 x 2           1.75
(2)  90 x 50         3.543 × 1.968     1.8

See full table.

  1. USA & Canada (Imperial & American system)
  2. Argentina, Brazil, Czech Republic, Finland, Hungary, Israel, Kazakhstan, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Bulgaria, Latvia, Mexico and South Africa (metric system)

So, 90 x 50 mm is metric version of the USA's & Canada's business card size. For evenness sake it probably is not 89 x 51 m.

Some Finnish forums referred to SFS recommendation, but I was unable to confirm this. It is clearly apparent, though, that the recommendation would be based on the North American customs.


Where does 3.5 x 2 " derive from?

I didn't find a straight answer to this, but stumbled into an interesting article about the history of business cards, which state the dimensions are used at least starting form the Victorian era.

The "calling card" sizes were hierarchical and denoted the social status of the owner(s):

The largest cards, measuring 3 3/8" x 2 1/2", were reserved for married couples.

A man could choose a card of either 3 3/8" x 1.5" or 3.5" x 2" dimensions. Sizes then ranged down to that for a married woman, a single woman, an unarried daughter still living at home, and a child, who had the smallest card at 2.25" x 1 3/8".

So my own conclusion is the 3.5 x 2 " size is derived from the Victorian man's calling card size, and—again—probably is 3.5 x 2 " rather than 3 3/8 x 1 ½ " for the evenness sake.

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Neat! I knew the business card arose from the Victorian calling card, but never knew there was a hierarchy. –  lawndartcatcher Apr 4 '11 at 15:05

What has become the UK standard size of business card, 85 x 55mm, seems to have been taken from the international standard credit card size, which is actually slightly smaller at 3 3/8" x 2 1/8" or c. 85 x 54mm. I assume the short dimension was "rounded up" for some reason.

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