Changing Outlook's Business Card layout

Last reviewed on October 2, 2014   —  31 comments

An often asked question about Microsoft Outlook 2007 & 2010's Business card layout is how to change it for all contacts. While you can't globally change existing contacts directly, you can change the default which is used for new contacts by creating a custom contact form with the desired business card layout and publish it. Set it as the default Contacts form for new Contacts.

To apply the layout of the new business card to existing contacts, see Code Sample 3: Change the business card layout to match the selected contact.

Business card on an Outlook Contact

Editing the Business Card

You can edit the business card on individual contacts to add images, background colors, or change the fields displayed.

double click on a business card to open the editorOpen a contact then double click on the business card image or click on the Business Card command on the ribbon (visible in screenshot above) to open the Business Card editor.

When a contact photo exists, Outlook will use it on the business card or you can add a logo or other image to the card.

Use the business card editor to re-arrange the fields, change the font attributes, add a background color, or position the image.

Create a custom form

  1. Open a new Contact form and edit it as desired.
    Do not add names, addresses or phone numbers in this form. Change only the business card or other features you want applied to all future contacts.
  2. Go to the Office icon, Editor Options and enable the Developer tab (File tab, Options in Outlook 2010)
  3. From the Developer tab, choose Publish form as.
  4. Publish the form to Outlook Folders

Using the custom form

Right click on the Contact folder, choose Properties and set the newly created custom form as the default form for the folder.

When you click New Contact, you'll use this form and all newly created contacts will use the new layout.

You can't change the form used by existing contacts, well, you can change the form, but the new business card layout won't be used. Use a tool listed below to change the message class to the new form.

See Using Custom Business Cards for more information on how to use a custom business card with new contacts.

Written by

Diane Poremsky
A Microsoft Outlook Most Valuable Professional (MVP) since 1999, Diane is the author of several books, including Outlook 2013 Absolute Beginners Book. She also created video training CDs and online training classes for Microsoft Outlook. You can find her helping people online in Outlook Forums as well as in the Microsoft Answers and TechNet forums.

Please post long or more complicated questions at Outlookforums.

31 responses to “Changing Outlook's Business Card layout”

  1. Bruce Fry

    That is a very bad alternative. Your developers should develop something that is more useful for your clients.

    I have over 3000 contacts, I guess I should go and individually change them all!

  2. Sean

    Hi Diane,

    I list my business contacts in outlook by company.
    for example "Hotel - Auckland - Sunshine hotel".
    I will also produce a catergory "accomodation" and assign it.
    I will then adjust the display as so that the order is the same as above.

    However outlook will often revert my listing back to "-Auckland - Sunshine, Hotel" and also delete my catergory for some reason.

    Do you have any advice how I can avoid this happening? I have re catergorised my 1000+ contacts on a number of occasions and am getting over it. Seems like an outlook glitch to me.


  3. San Pal

    When I clicked on Contacts the business card format came up 3 or 4 across. Somehow this changed to 6 across and I just want to know how to get it back to 3 or 4.

  4. Dennis Hammer

    I use Office 2010 and the older I get the harder it is for me to see the small font used in all of the various fields of a contact card. Is there a way to increase the font size of the entry fields for all contact cards, both new and already created?


  5. Dennis Hammer

    That sucks, but not surprised. Thanks for the help.

  6. sagar

    Hi Diane...Having one query regarding Outlook 2010.

    I was coming across some strange thing while working with MAPI.

    I am creating contact using mapi, while passing data to create contact, i am also passing address field values and setAddress() function to set value.
    strange thing is when i see contact in my outlook contact folder, it doesnt showing address on business card until i open it. Once i open it, it automatically start to showing the address..!!

    Is there anyway to solve this issue??



  7. Mark C.

    In BCM 2010, my client uses the business card view, they publish a magazine and want a custom field we created to be visible on the business card that shows if they are currently a subscriber or not. When I try to edit the business card the only option I have for custom fields is USER1-4 but not any of the custom fields we have created. Is there a way to change that?

  8. Champ

    Hi Diane, my issue with the contact record is that the display of the business card in the upper right quadrant is quite redundant and useless. It wastes 50% of the space allocated and it takes up valuable Notes space. Is there a way to remove this card from the view altogether and use that space for a larger notes field?

  9. Champ

    I think I can live with that, especially if it can be limited to a specific .pst file. Can you point me to instruction for customizing the form?

  10. Alan A

    Dear Diane
    Used your method for new card contact and card layout - works a treat for new entries. But, when I import contacts from elsewhere i.e. excel it uses to old default. Surely as new contacts they should use my own new design. Any advice please?
    Using Windows 7 and outlook 2010.
    Thanks. Alan

  11. Alan A

    Dear Diane
    Thanks for a prompt and definitive reply. At least someone knows how these things work.
    Thanks. Alan

  12. Walter ZAMBOTTI

    When I attempt to customise the Form I do not see any place where I can customise the Business Card. In fact the "General" form that is displayed in the Form Designer for a Contact form appears to look completely different to the usual contact form

  13. Walter ZAMBOTTI

    Dear Diane

    (CLICK!!!. Now I get it!)

    Open a blank contact form using "New Contact" (in the required contact folder) and not via the form designer.

    Just to let you know I got it working exactly as you described.

    The mistake I made was designing the new Business card as I desired and saving the blank contact exiting out and jumping into the designer in a seperate step. I completely missed that you can access the designer from the Contact form itself!!!



    1. James

      Hi, I can create a blank contact card but cannot see how to publish it do I then save as a blank?, any chance of breaking this down into step by steps?. I am using Outlook 2010.


  14. Vanessa

    I don't know what happened. I used to be able to copy the contact as a business card and place it in a Word document as a business card. All of a sudden I can't do that after IT made upgrades, so I don't know what happened. That was a nice feature. If there's some way to still do that could someone please let me know?

  15. Jordan

    I was develop a new contact-layout in Outlook and saved it as a vCard (while I was still working on it). How do I pull it back up in developer?

  16. Roy

    After adding photos to business cards of individuals, when you click on those photos/thumbnails anywhere on the card, that doesn't render a full size, original image. Can you make Outlook do this? The tiny pictures on the cards themselves are too small to really identify who is in them and are almost next to useless.

    In my case, clicking on the left rendering doesn't even open the specific directory they came from, it takes you to the directory one rung higher in the folder hierarchy. Clicking on the picture on the right renders the "edit business card" GUI.

    I am an Outlook neophyte, having only recently switching from Outlook Express. I can't find an internet answer addressing this after much searching.

  17. Deanna

    Created a custom contact form in Outlook 2010. It said to change fields; just right click and edit. For example I changed Full Name to Company and the Company to the Full Name. Reason is because I want the Company Name on the top and Bolded, not the Contact Name. The problem is when you do this, the field where you type the Company name keep the formating of Full Name. I am not seeing how to change that portion. Seems like this would cause problems when you want to use those specific field for letter or labels - It recognizes the Company as the Full Name. Please help!!!

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