Design Elements of a Greeting Card

What should you put on the back of greeting card, anyway?

A greeting card is generally a simple document—a piece of folded paper with text or images on the front and a message inside. Although there are variations, most greeting cards follow a typical layout. With a top or side fold, there's a front, an inside spread (usually only half), and a back.

Smiling woman reading a greeting card
Getty Images/Weekend Images Inc.


The cover or front of the card may be a photo, text only, or a combination of text and images. The front of the card is what initially grabs attention and sets the tone (funny, serious, romantic, playful) for the card.

Inside Message

Some greeting cards are blank inside, and you write a personal message. Others might proclaim "Happy Birthday" or "Season's Greetings!" There could be a poem, quotation, or the punchline of a joke that began on the front. The inside of the card might repeat graphics from the front or have other images. The inside message typically appears on the right-hand side of the open side-fold card with the left side blank. On a top-fold card, the interior content generally is on the bottom panel.

  • Additional Inside Panels. Rather than the standard folded card with a front cover and message inside, some greeting cards incorporate multiple panels folded like a tri-fold brochure. They might have accordion folds or gatefolds to accommodate more text and images.
  • Additional Inside Pages. Some greeting cards can be like small booklets to present an extended message or tell a story. Some greeting cards are made with computer software and printed on letter-size paper folded to create a quarter-fold card so that all printing is on one side of the unfolded sheet of paper.


On commercially-produced greeting cards, the back of the card is where you'll find the name of the greeting card company, logo, copyright notice, and contact information. When making your own greeting cards, you might want to include your name and date or a personal stamp or logo. It could also be left blank.

Optional Parts

  • Flaps/Windows. Greeting cards of any size may have die-cut windows with or without flaps that conceal/reveal portions of the inside of the card.
  • Pop-Ups/Tabs. Some greeting cards might have pop-up elements or tabs that the recipient pulls to reveal a message or cause parts of the card to move.
  • Embellishments. Greeting cards created by hand or on the computer might have ribbon, charms, glitter, or other items that aren't part of the paper card.
  • Sound. Some cards incorporate sound using a built-in mechanism that plays music or speaks when the recipient opens the card.
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