ID Badge Design Guidelines

Our eXpress badging™ ID badge design process is simple and efficient. Below outlines the parameters for each step.

Specifications and Guide

ID Badge Print Technology:

eXpress badging uses the same badge printer technology that you would use if you invested in printing your own badges. The technology used is called dye-sublimation and is very different from standard forms printing processes. If you are designing ID badges for your organization, you should be aware there that are do’s and don’ts that you should factor into your ID design. eXpress badging will do all of the design work for you with this understanding in mind, and below is our process.

Slight imperfections due to the dye-sublimation printing process are acceptable. Dye-sublimation PVC card printing and lamination cannot produce blemish-free print and lamination 100% of the time. A degree of imperfection is acceptable regarding quality control imperfections that do not affect the appearance from a distance.

Acceptable Printing and Lamination Imperfections Include:

  • Fine debris and lint particles trapped under the print film and laminate that are not in the photo, text or logos.
  • The white shade of the PVC card stock can vary over time and by technology types.
  • Slight color variations due to a change in printing technology that is required to manage badge printing over extended years that are not obvious from a distance.
  • Printed names that extend to the very edge of the card, but not truncated.
  • Using eXpress badging “Standard” badge format or non-laminated badges, image fading caused by extended sun exposure will occur within short periods of time (can be weeks or months) and are not warrantied from fading, cracking or breaking. Barcodes will wear off much quicker (can be weeks or months) using the “Standard” format badge and are not warrantied.

Not Acceptable Printing and Lamination Imperfections Include (cause for reprint):

  • Printing imperfections, embedded particle, debris, or lint within printed areas that are obvious from a distance
  • Lamination debris or air bubbles between lamination (if applicable) that are obvious from a distance.
  • Printed names that extend beyond the edge of the card, or truncated*
    • *Any truncation caused by exceeding max field length when auto reduces font size is requested to be disabled/turned off is deemed Acceptable by eXpress badging.
  • When an eXpress badging DURAbadge™ formatted laminated badge image fades, cracks, or breaks within 24 months of the ship date. See the DURAbadge™ warranty below.

Colors shown on a computer screen or printed from your printer may not be an accurate representation of the final printed color. The color of the final product may vary from RGB, CMYK, or PMS numbers provided because of the heat that may be used to produce the final ID card/badge and variations in industry standards using PVC dye-sublimation printing processes. Refer to our Color Matching section below for additional information. A plus/minus graphic/text movement tolerance of .063” is acceptable during printing/production.

We create merge templates from your source artwork and badge data elements. Then you just provide enter/import some data and upload/capture photos that are merged with the design during the print process. Those that have spent the extra time to create individual badges complete with photo names and design that are ready to print; please review our FILE to PRINT option below, an is not a recommended practice.

ID Card Material:

eXpress badging prints on PVC card stock material for photo ID badges. The white opacity of cardstock will vary between “standard” 100% PVC and “composite” 60% PVC and 40% polyester blended cards. Over periods of extended time, the white contrast of PVC cards cannot be guaranteed due to variation in the card manufacturing processes and material used.

We do have other material options for special projects and oversize cards that are considered custom.

  • Technology Cards: RFID, Magnetic Stripes and Barcodes
  • Lamination for added durability and fade protection
  • Adhesive Stock
  • Tri-modal Security Seals
  • UV Inks
  • Foil Stamping


To begin creation of your badge design, we request existing artwork for your logo, service marks, photo images, trademarks, company colors. etc. Let us help you understand what is needed below for best practices in ID badge printing.

Just the Graphic Please:
We require the static graphics file for import into our system’s badge template. You can supply additional sample files with text and photo illustrations, but the final graphic/s must not include variable text and/or photos unless it is a layered PSD or EPS Microsoft Windows file format.

Source artwork is preferred. Reach out to your marketing department for starters as they should have everything needed to correctly reproduce your brand imagery.

  • Best results are from scalable vector art formats like EPS and PSD files.
  • Ask for the layered file if you are submitting the entire badge design.
  • Other files we accept are JPG, PNG, PSD, TIFF, and BMP.
  • The ideal resolution for graphics is 300 dots-per-inch (DPI) RGB format
  • Graphic dimensions should be the exact size to be printed
    • Standard badge size is 3.375” x 2.125” (3-3/8” x 2-1/8”)

Providing Artwork Files

eXpress badging™ has several methods for delivering artwork:

  • Use our ID Badge File Upload Center

  • We can set up a secure ShareFile Account for those with artwork files over 10MEG.

  • Our team can pull artwork off of your FTP server.

Color Matching:

Regarding your company’s colors — we will try to get as close as technically possible; however, we cannot match to the exact Pantone Matching System (PMS) numbers. Colors will vary depending on the various printers used to print; so there will be color variations over the years as printer technology changes and when printers are upgraded. Teal and Burgundy are two colors that are very difficult to get close and may require additional costs in order to match closely.

For organizations that demand color matching to a close tolerance throughout the ID badge production life cycle, requires the pre-order of custom printed stock and has a 20 business day lead time and additional costs are required.

Full Bleeds and Color Backgrounds:

Direct to Card PVC badge printers do not print over the card edges, which are the standard printers used if you were to print in-house, and the primary technology we use in our production department. A very thin white line-boarder may appear on some edges that “bleed” over. We suggest placing a .05″ margin border around images that print to the edge for best results.

eXpress badging does have a line of High Definition printers for projects that require edge-to-edge printing and higher resolution graphics. In this case, your badge design files must account for the bleed .125″ on each “bleed” site.

Multiple Designs and Color Coding: If you have more than one badge design, or using color coding, you’ll need to provide a cross-reference stating what data field(s) is being used (badge type, department,…) to select the design or color that is assigned to each for example: in the “badge type” field employee=blue, contractor=yellow, temporary=red…).


We use standard Arial as our default font and suggest that you do as well. We provide a limited selection of other fonts you can choose from but suggest sticking with Arial.

If you require a specific font please provide name and formatting information. Additional costs will be charged for the font usage as well as a higher per badge price if we cannot find a “hosted” font version requiring us to print your badges using software-driven tools.

Font Attributes:

As a rule, all merge field fonts (first, last, title, department…) are set to auto-reduce allowing a very long name to print without truncation. If you require static font sizes regardless of the character length, you’ll have to know your maximum character length prior to truncation, then publish your badge data accordingly. Your badges will be printed “as is”; truncated or not, and reprinted at your cost if required.

Photos and Badge Orientation

The standard industry size for a photo is 1″ x 1.25″. While you can select other dimensions, this decision can affect previously captured images and how they render. At eXpress badging™, we suggest using rectangle-oriented headshots cropped to show the entire employee’s face with little backdrop visible. We also recommend using color bars and thick borders for effective, easily identified color codes.

Backside Printing:

As a default, badges are printed in black only on the back. No grayscale options, as they will appear pixelated. Provide your backside text information in an MS Word or text file. We can print in color on the back, but make sure you have upgraded your project to include color back printing as it does increase cost. If you do not have anything printed on the back of your badge, you should ask your team this one question: The back of our badge is like a billboard on a busy highway and it will get looked at many times delivering no message; so what message would make this valuable real-estate to our organization? If you end up with nothing, then blank it is.

Slot Punch:

Most badges are slot punched for use with a badge holder (clip, lanyard or reel). Make sure if you are designing the badge, to account for the slot location. The standard offset is .25′ to the bottom of the slot, centered on top edge. Standard slot width is .5′ to .625″. Standard slot height is .125″.

Design Templates and Proofing:

eXpress badging will import your logos and create your badge template for printing based on the template and design setup you selected and signed-off on. This is an industry best practice. If you have designed your badge already to specifications required, then turn off all variable data elements, photo, slotting, outlines etc so only the design template is saved as specified in our artwork section above. eXpress badging will create the merge fields and photos within our badge template using stated fonts above.

Photo ID Badge Template Background Graphic with No Variable Data or Photo Included

eXpress badging will submit formal proofs for customer digital signature within two to three business days from receipt of order, associated artwork and graphics files; if applicable. The proof process is not a design concept stage allowing customers multiple changes/proofs to determine how the final badge should look. If a customer is not certain how the ID badge should look, they need to work with their ID Specialist in providing a pre-proof mockup as a starting point. We can email hyperlinks for quick review. Once the proof is approved, or a step in approval, eXpress badging can mail Production Proofs samples that are used for final review. Production Proofs are mailed USPS First Class; unless otherwise specified and expedited costs paid for by the customer. Proof fees are charged to the customer for new badge designs, and previously approved designs that require edits.

Before a proof is approved, have more than two authorized and qualified individuals review. Once the proof is approved by an authorized customer representative, eXpress badging requires it to be digitally signed via a provided link, or printed/signed/scanned version that is emailed back to eXpress badging. The customer signed and approved proof transfers the responsibility of proof accuracy to the customer’s signer. Any reprints required after proof approval due to noted errors or edits will be at the expense of the customer. No exceptions!

Customer at-fault issues:

  • Customer approves a proof that contains an error(s)
  • Customer provided the wrong ID numbers for eXpress badging to encode/clone from
  • Customer provided the wrong photo assigned to an ID number
  • Customer approves non-approved Portal records (data and/or photos) for printing
  • Customer provides an incorrect badge type (different locations have different systems and therefore different badge types)
  • Customer makes a design change after the approval of a proof

A sample proof is provided for reference below.

Basic Template Design customers, your proof is the selected design template on our website. You’ll be provided a preview of a virtual ID. Basic Templates are designed for those who not require design control and no to minor edits.

Basic Template Edits If you require any edits to the template they must be submitted at the time of your file drop submission; otherwise, a design change fee will be charged ($25.00). Your only edits are font type, font and photo border color, and font size: be specific. Take the time now and determine how you want the design to look. Copy the template (Print Screen), paste and edit in MS Paint and type out all edits. Save in a .JPG format and provide the file with your file drop. We do not provide a formal proof for approval other than a URL preview. More than one edit with preview will require a $25.00 design change fee per occurrence. If you have specific design requirements, you’ll need to upgrade to our Standard Design service ($40.00 adl.) where we provide more design options and edits along with a digital proof for sign off.

Standard Template and Custom Design badge customers, we print an actual ID badge and provide a scanned image proof for approval and sign-off. Customer provided badge designs are used as the guide for proofing and is what eXpress badging uses to produce the final ID badge template. This is an actual representation of your finished badge. Printed samples can be mailed upon request. Your approved proof approval must be received before ID badges can be printed.

Sample Badge Templates

Click on an image below to see the virtual badge.


For customers wishing to provide a completed graphic design for each of their ID badges, we offer our FILE to PRINT service. Please be advised that we make no edits to customer files. Files will be printed exactly as sent.

To avoid receiving a poor quality print, be sure to follow the steps below.

Please be advised that providing finished files to print is not a conventional process to print photo ID badges. We suggest that you use our design merge template process where you provide the badge design background file without the photo and data or use one of our templates, and we import the data and photo merge elements for printing. Then, you only provide a spreadsheet and data or use our Portal to enter upload and preview each badge prior to submitting for print. This results in a higher quality print results and is easier to manage.

FILE to PRINT File Requirements:

  • Files must be sized to 3.475” x 2.225” for a horizontal badge or 2.225” x 3.475” for a vertical badge.
  • Be sure to leave room for slots at the top of your badge; front and back sides (if applicable).
  • Do not include slot location marks or border edges lines.
  • Provided images should have square corners if bleeding off the edge.
  • Templates for use when laying out your badges are available upon request.
  • Please send Individual JPG files only.
  • No PDF, EPS, AI or PSD files will be accepted.
  • Files should have a resolution of 300dpi. Lower resolution files will not print clearly.
  • Files must be in RGB Color.
  • Fonts within graphic elements that are below 6 Point will not print clearly.

Production Print Preview (P3):

For larger projects that have multiple badge designs, or want to preview the entire print job before printing, eXpress badging offers a Production Print Preview we call a P3. This is a recommended step when printing on RFID stock to ensure it is printed correctly the first time. We print the entire order to PDF and securely provide the file as a Print Job Proof, and we require signoff just as we do with the badge design proof. Once approved, eXpress badging prints the job as provided within the P3.

The P3 addresses a few concerns:

  • Are the photos assigned to the correct record, or are photos missing?
  • Are the photos cropped to the correct aspect ratios and standards?
  • Are the photos cropped to standard correctly?
  • Is the record data correct and prints the correct badge template?
  • Is the sort order correct?

The P3 is not a design proof tool and is used only for data/photo verification only.

If badge design corrections are required in the P3 stage, and proofing was approved; the approved proofs are voided, the project paused until the badge design corrections are re-proofed and approved.

ID Badge Technology Testing:

In addition to the design and proof process, eXpress badging requires technology testing and sign-off for any cards used in a badge reader system. This ensures that the ID badges eXpress badging produces will work in all of your systems.

Sample test cards are provided based on customer provided specifications. Test cards must be enrolled in each system used; then transactions generated for each test card provided. We recommend printing a transaction report in each badge reader system to document successful ID badge enrollment and transaction generation (badge works in the reader). Does the badge open the door, record a time punch, record a tracking transaction, and then record the transaction in the system using the unique badge ID number and person assigned to it?

Testing Guidelines: Testing starts by defining all badge reader systems being used. Provide the manufacturer’s name, the supporting integrator/dealer information and point of contact for each system used. Take a photo of your RFID card box label and/or back of the card and email to your sales representative.

  1. Time and Attendance
  2. Access Control
  3. Tracking Systems
  4. Point of Sale

Once you know all the systems in use, you need to document the reader type and specifications of each technology used: RFID Proximity (125kHz), RFID Contactless (13.56 MHz), barcodes, and magnetic stripes.

DURABadge Warranty:

eXpress badging’s “Standard” PVC badge does NOT have a durability warranty. Using eXpress badging’s “Standard” format badge (non-laminated), image fading caused by extended sun exposure will occur within short periods of time (can be weeks or months) and are not warrantied from fading. Badge cracks in the slotted area, or breaking of the entire card will happen as a “Standard” format badge ages and becomes more brittle. Barcodes will wear off much quicker (can be weeks or months) using the “Standard” format badge and are not warrantied. Laminated badges produced by customers on-premise badge system are not covered under this warranty; only badges produced by eXpress badging.

eXpress badging’s produced DURAbadge™ formatted badges that have a 1MIL over-laminate on each side will last much longer (can be several years or longer) and are warranted for two years. A limited two-year durability warranty will be provided by eXpress badging for DURAbadge™ ID badges using composite PVC media and over-laminate and starts from the date we process/ship your order. The DURAbadge™ warranty pertains specifically to badge cracks, slot punch area breaking, badge breaks, or the images on any laminated side from abrasion wear and tear determined to be a result of normal use of the card.

eXpress badging’s Warranty Procedure:

  • The badge must have been produced by eXpress badging within the last 24 months and meets the above-stated terms.
  • Take the photo of both the front and back of the badge and email to eXpress badging’s production department.
  • Customer cannot destroy the badge until eXpress badging replies with warranty approval acknowledgment and may request that the defective badges be returned at eXpress badging’s expense.
  • If the customer’s badge technology stops working, eXpress badging may provide a self-addressed/stamped return envelope for return and evaluation, or ask that the defective cards be destroyed.

Do you have questions about our design process or any of the guidelines stated above? Please contact our ID Specialists for assistance!