Design Elements of a Greeting Card

Smiling woman reading a greeting card
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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, greeting cards generally follow a typical layout. Folded on the side or the top, there's a front, an inside spread (usually only half is used), and a back.


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 your own message. Others may proclaim Happy Birthday, Season's Greetings, or some other appropriate message. There may be a fun or serious poem, quotation, or Bible verse, or the punchline for a joke that began on the front of the card. The inside of the card may repeat graphics from the front of the card or have additional images. The inside message of a greeting card typically appears on the right-hand side of the open side-fold card with the left side (reverse of the cover) blank. On a top-fold card, the inside message is typically found on the bottom panel (reverse of the back side or page).

  • Additional Inside Panels. Rather than the common folded card with a front cover and message inside, some greeting cards may incorporate multiple panels folded like a tri-fold brochure. They may 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 made with computer software are printed on letter-size paper that is then 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 may be embellished with ribbon, charms, glitter, or other items that aren't part of the paper card.
  • Sound. Many greeting cards today incorporate sound. A mechanism built into the card causes it to play music or speak when the card is opened.