How To Cut A Standard Card Base

I’ve been asked a few times about what standard card sizes are and if there is a “right way” to cut them.  So, I thought I’d put together a little photo walk through to hopefully help give you a reference as you are starting out.  If you have any questions or would like more help, send me a note to and I’ll be more than happy to see what I can do to help!

Card Sizes – the basics

So, greeting cards come in many shapes and sizes; and as you go along you will probably find yourself coming up with your own! 

Birthday Wishes Convention Swap Card 2011The most common size you will probably see cardmakers use is 4.25” x 5.5”.

This size lets you be super efficient with your cardstock paper and fits in a standard A2 envelope.  I also make square cards that are 4.25” x 4.25” since it is a little different of a look and fits in the same sized envelope.  If you are looking for more space or something that either holds a photo or is more like a Hallmark-sized card, then I would go for a 5” x 7” card.

For the purposes of this walkthrough, I’ll be showing you how I cut and score the 4.25” x 5.5” card.

How To Cut Your Card Base

Picking Your Paper Size

To start you will want to grab your paper and a paper trimmer.  Most cardstock comes in one of two sizes:  12”x12” & 8.5”x11”.

If you are making a greeting card, the 8.5” x 11” size is exactly right to make 2 bases.

Getting Your Trimmer Ready

Next, grab your paper trimmer.  Here is a nice picture of the basic trimmer you can order through Stampin’ Up! and my photo of what it looks like when you pull it off your shelf, since the arm folds up to make it compact for storage.

SU paper trimmer     

So, for cutting and/or scoring your paper for your card base, you will want to pull out the extended arm (that lets you measure and cut up to 15.5”).  So, look on the side and you will see it tucked away.

Pull it on the end furthest from the logo and it should swing out for you.

The Basic Card Base Cut

So, with one 8.5” x 11” piece of paper you can cut it in half two different ways which give you the same card dimensions in the end but just have the fold in different places.  Here is what I call the basic card base cut because it is what many people are the most familiar with.

Place your cardstock on your paper trimmer with the 11” side pressing against the plastic lip at the top of the cutter (this makes sure you cut a straight line). 

Align the left side of your paper (the 8.5” side) at the 5.5” mark.  On this paper trimmer, the 5” mark isn’t labeled since it is on the plastic edge, so it is usually easiest to count back from the 6” mark for me.

Slide the orange cutting blade across the paper to cut your sheet in half like this:

Now, you can either fold your cut piece of paper in half or if you have a scoring tool (like the upcoming Simply Scored which makes everything super easy) you can use that to have a more clean and crisp look.  Or, grab your bone folder and you can score your paper using the paper trimmer.

Turn your cut piece of paper 90 degrees and place one end at the 4.25” mark.  Then run your bone folder in the cutting groove of the trimmer to get a perfect crease.

When you are done, you will have a standard card base ready to decorate!

And obviously you can flip it on its side for a different look to your card. Smile 

The “Skinny” Card Base Cut

So, next I’ll show you the other way you can cut the paper in half to make a standard sized card base.  To differentiate this from what I walked through above, I just call this the “skinny” card base since your cut pieces of paper end up long and skinny.

Place your cardstock in your paper trimmer so that the 8.5” side of your cardstock is pushed against the plastic lip at the top of your trimmer.

Align the left side of your paper (the 11” edge) on the 4.25” mark on your trimmer. (Note – I have my paper slid down so you can see the markings of the ruler, when you cut, make sure you have your paper pushed up against the plastic edge at the top)

Slide the orange cutting blade across the paper and you should get two identically sized pieces of cardstock.

Now you can either fold in half, use a scoring tool, or use your bone folder to crease your paper.  Here are the measurements if using your bone folder.

Rotate the paper 90 degrees so that the 11” side is along the top lip of the trimmer and the left edge is at the 5.5” mark.

Run your bone folder through the cutting groove and to get a clean crease.

You now have the standard size card with the fold on the top!

Or turn it sideways for yet another alternative. Smile

So, hopefully this photo walkthrough was helpful for you as a reference point to remember the different ways to cut your standard card base.  However, every card is a creative work of art, so there is no wrong way to cut your cardstock. 

If you have any questions or need any help, feel free to let me know!

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11 responses to “How To Cut A Standard Card Base”

  1. I found your tutorial informative and very helpful, thank you very much, we here in South Africa make our cards to different measurements, but I will be switching to the american way in future as I prefer your sizes and I have the envelope maker and can now make my own to match the cards and the envelope gift boxes as well, thanks again, i look forward to future tips and ideas, best wishes, from Jeanette

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  3. I have owned stamping items for years are recently started to use again. this is the best easiest instructions I have ever seen! I love that you did not assume anything of us!

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