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Card Submission 101 Rev 04 – January 2022

by Doreen Erhardt

The intention of this document is to provide a quick check list guide for ‘self-review’ of card submissions on Greeting Card Universe. Included in each section are links to other great tips and tutorials to further your knowledge.

Before uploading your image:

Have you checked your image against the Submission Guidelines?
Doing this is CRITICAL and may bring typography issues, distracting backgrounds, crooked horizons, etc … to your attention BEFORE it gets to the review team. After all, your image is the foundation of your greeting card’s marketability and if it won’t pass the guidelines there’s no sense in moving forward.

Submission Guidelines

URLs on IMAGES are NOT ALLOWED – URLs are not allowed on images, in verses, in Artist notes, or in the Image Credits (no www or .com). The only URL allowed is one to your GCU store in your Artist Notes.

Remember Maximum Image Reuse of 3x – Identical to nearly identical images can be used up to 3 times as long as they are in different categories. This applies to variations – Examples: Color variations, Borders/Borderless and Orientation – Changing the image or card color, border or orientation are all considered to be essentially the same card, and all count in the 3-times rule. In addition to the above variations, name or similar text variations must be different. If in the same category only up to 3 are allowed. For example: Happy Birthday Buddy, Happy Birthday Friend, Happy Birthday Pal – These would all fall into the same subcategory Birthdays >> For Friend and thus would be limited to only 3 variations. Different inside text alone does NOT make an identical image card unique. It is still limited to 3 times and the cards need to be in different categories. Images are not considered identical if the text on the FRONT image of the card differentiates it from another using the same image. The differentiation needs to be strong, so having I Miss You as well as Missing you is not strong enough differentiation. Examples: The same image of flowers can be reused more than 3 times with COVER text of Happy Birthday Mom, Happy Birthday Sister, Thank You, Missing You, Baby Shower invitation, etc.

3 x Use Rule Exception: The only exception to the three times use rule is with Photo Cards. We do consider orientation as a significant difference and would allow a portrait and a landscape orientation of the same design in the same category. The 3 x use rules would apply to each of the portrait and landscape versions as it does to the standard non-photo cards. So you could have three portrait versions and three landscape versions of the same design.

Have you checked the Tabu list for Intellectual Property issues? Many words, phrases, quotes, song titles, song lyrics, movie titles, and the like, can not be used as they are protected in one way or another.

Once an image is uploaded and you are brought to the Card Image Details Page …

1 – Card Title

Card titles should be as descriptive as possible within the allowed space. Titles should be meaningful to shoppers without misleading the shopper. The card title provides valuable data to search engines.

– Does your card title include: “who the card is for”? – example: for Son, for Teacher – List this 1st in your title

– Does your card title include: “the occasion”? – example: Father’s Day, Wedding, Get Well

– Does your card title include: “subject/theme and/or color and medium”? – example Blue Dog, Funny, Photograph

DO NOT include misleading effects (such as; gold, embossed) in your Card Title instead use “gold-like”, “digitally embossed”, etc.

Learn more about Misleading Effects – also Distressed Effects – and – Music Theme

DO NOT use any punctuation marks (other than an apostrophe when needed to show possession or contraction) like but not limited to – , . * ! ; etc. (dash, hyphen, comma, period, asterisk, etc.) Learn More

– Use proper capitalization in your Card Titles. Specifically capitalize the first word and all the main words. Do not capitalize articles (like a, an, the) or conjunctions and prepositions if they are less than four letters. However, you should capitalize them if they are the first or last words in the title. Learn More

– Card titles should be kept to fifty (50) characters, including spaces, to fit in the field space and not truncate to a second line.

– If your card is a blank any occasion card please add the terms Blank Any Occasion into your title, and please do not add the word Card at the end of the title as GCU automatically adds this to all titles.

NOTE: Long card titles get truncated from view and differentiating terms should be at the beginning of the card title so they can be seen at a glance (typically the age, name, relation, occasion). You do not need to use ‘card’ or ‘greeting card’ in your title, these are already added by GCU

Learn More About Creating Good Card Titles and More About Misleading Effects

2 – Keywords

DO use descriptive words about your card – example newborn,branches,leaves,baby …

DO use words to describe WHO the card is for – example: fathers, pet lovers, children …

DO identify colors, patterns, themes, medium, breeds – example: red, argyle, western, watercolor …

DO include the occasion the card is for – example: weddings, father’s day …

DO NOT include what the card COULD BE only WHAT IT IS! Only use keywords that apply. Including a list of relationships or occasions that are not specific to this card are misleading and will produce incorrect search results for shoppers, therefore they will be removed by the reviewer.

DO NOT include misleading effects (such as; gold, embossed) in your Keywords instead use “gold-like”, “digitally embossed”, etc.

Learn More About Creating Good Keywords

3 – Standard vs Custom

Custom vs Standard Card Type setting – Choose the correct setting!

Custom must have custom elements in the card front design which the customer can change using the Customization software.

NOTE: Check the Custom Box for cards with a place for the customer to add their Photo as well as cards where you have created placeholder text using the customization tools for the customer to add an Age, Name, Year or other message.

Standard cards are those where the customer can not make changes to the card front.

DO NOT check the Custom Type Setting just because you want the customer to know you’ll do custom work, this IS NOT the purpose of this setting and will result in your cards being returned.

PLEASE NOTE – Once a card has been submitted as a CUSTOM front card it cannot be changed back to a STANDARD front card and resubmitted. The card will be returned to you by the review team to add custom elements to the card front and resubmit OR you may delete the card and create a new STANDARD front card.

4 – Fast Track

Fast Track Review Check-box is ONLY for Shopper Request where a card sale is imminent, Personal Purchase AND Expedited Concept Review.

Click this check-box to expedite the card review process for this card.

Any abuse of Fast Track may result in your cards being held and your discontinued use of the Fast Track process.

DO offer a link in the Note to Review section of either the Wanted Cards Forum Thread or with your Custom Request ID from your Manage Custom Requests Page as your authorization to use Fast Track.

Example: “This card is to fulfill the wanted card thread here” or “This card is Request ID: 4387”

Expedited Concept Review: Introduced April 2013

To facilitate artists creating like/near identical image series of cards (age, relationship specific, etc.) we are allowing an expedited process for Concept Review. This will allow the first card (concept card) to be submitted via FastTrack and reviewed before the artist proceeds with creating and submitting derivative cards. This should save time and anguish for both the reviewers and artists.

If you are creating an age or relationship series, please submit a concept card that includes the age or relationship text so we can properly evaluate the text placement, font combination and legibility of that text.

DO Submit your ONE concept card in the series as FastTrack and be sure to note in Notes to Reviewer field why. Example “sample of proposed series of like images for age specific birthday collection, please review and let me know if I can proceed”.

If the concept card is returned for edits, make your edits and resubmit as usual. If it is declined, go back to the drawing board taking into account the decline reason(s) shared by the reviewer.

If/once your concept card is approved, you have the green light to create and submit the balance of your series.

DO be sure to reference the original concept card’s PID in the Note to Reviewers field (example “this card is based on approved concept card #12345”) when you submit any of the like image series as regular submissions – NOT FastTrack. FastTrack is permitted for the concept card of the series (1st card only) and not the balance of the series.

Please also note that this is not a blanket approval for all derivative submissions but for the basic image and concept. All other standards still apply to each submission.

5 – Categories

Most cards can be placed in 2 categories. This is to increase the card’s exposure to card buyers. The exception are name, date/year, relationship specific type cards, etc. Card buyers come to GCU sometimes for very specific cards, so categories like Occasions>>Miss You need to actually have the words Miss You in some form on the front or inside of the card.

Relation/Age/Year Categories – Cards for these categories ONLY go in the Relation/Age/Year specific category.

They CAN NOT also be put in a general category or Collection Categories

Specific & General CategoriesCards CANNOT be both in a specific and general subcategory for the same category. For example: Birthday >> For Her and Birthday >> General. If the card is feminine then it goes in For Her only. If the card is general it goes in General. One exception is with subcategories that are characteristics like Humor, Vintage, Animals, Sports, etc. A card CAN be in both a General and a characteristic category (Birthday >> Humor AND Birthday >> General)

Relationship cards are specific cards – If the card is designed for a specific relative, then it is specific and can only go in the relationship category under the occasion/holiday. If the card is not aimed at a specific relative, but still offers text/verse for the occasion/holiday, then the card is considered general and can only go in the general categories.

General categories – Some main categories have subcategories like flowers, pets, humor, vintage/nostalgic in addition to General. These are all considered General categories, so feel free to pick the ones that best suit your card and will give it the most exposure.

Exceptions – With the above in mind some Relation/Age/Year specific cards can find places under the Collections category as well, such as Outdoors, Photography, and Sports. Take advantage of these to give some of your specific cards potentially more exposure.

DUAL Age/Year & Relation Specific Cards – When a card has two specifics (age/year and relationship typically) then it goes in the relationship category only. We are adding an Age Specific subcategory under many relationship categories. For example: Birthday>>Family Relation Specific>>Mom>>Age Specific.

Photo Cards must have at least 1 of the categories a Photo Card / Your Photo Here category.

Custom Cards now have new categories Customize for Any Age/Year/Name, etc. Please note that only 1 like image can be put in these categories, as they are considered “samples” for the customer to then customize with their Age, Year, Name, etc.

NOTE: If you don’t find a specific category you are looking for consider using “Other” vs a category that is not a likely fit. It is always a better choice and the reviewers will let you know if there was a better suited category for future submissions; or if they requested one be created for you.

Learn More About Creating for Categories and Learn More About Choosing Categories

6 – Artist Notes AKA Card Description

– DO include a description of your card in your Artist’s Notes

– DO include credit based on the TOU (terms of use) of any elements used in your design or if you used a poem, verse or quote written by someone else. Example – “photo courtesy of Vonda Dickerson” “quote by Vonda Dickerson” (no external URL is allowed in this field)

– DO clarify misleading effects (such as; gold, embossed) in your Artist Notes with statements like:

This card has an Embossed-like look (there is no indication of embossing to the touch).”

– DO add Foreign language translation in your Artist Notes, such as; “Spanish translation: I Love You”

– The Uniqueness Test implemented by GCU is a handy tool that checks your card’s uniqueness against your other cards. Don’t worry about other artists, they’re not included in the test. Just you compared to yourself. This helps point out if you’re being a little lazy and repeating same/similar descriptions all the time, which gives you a heads-up that you should be a little more creative. How the Uniqueness Factor Works – AND –Learn More About Writing a Good Card Description

7 – Note to Reviewer

DO include links to TOU for any 3rd party elements you use in your design and links to the elements themselves.

DO include a link to the Wanted Cards forum post, Design Challenge post or include a reason for using Fast Track

DO include a question for the reviewer about your category choice or request a new category if either is appropriate

DO inform the reviewer that it’s your painting/photograph/illustration if/when no 3rd party graphics have been used.

DO inform the reviewer if you’ve used this design on previously approved cards by offering the PID

DO inform the reviewer that you intent to create a like image series/collection based on this first submission by using Concept Approval

DO inform the reviewer where the foreign language came from; i.e., “I am fluent in Spanish”, or “I paid a translator” … keep in mind that free translation tools on the internet are rarely accurate and we don’t suggest they be used to create foreign language cards.

Learn More About Making Effective Use of the Notes to Reviewer Section

8 – Inside Text/Verse

BEFORE submitting your card to the Review Queue check for common grammar, punctuation and spelling errors, as well as GCU accepted spellings of holidays: GCU Grammar and Spelling Check List

– Does your text (front and/or inside) speak clearly to your category?

– Is your inside text/verse different from that on the front?

Example having Happy Father’s Day on the card front and then nothing but Happy Father’s Day on the inside, will get your card returned – so be creative.

– Have you checked and rechecked your spelling, grammar and punctuation on your card front and inside text?

– If your card is an Announcement or Invitation, have you included lines for customers to add event details?

Example: Date:____________ or Date …………….

– Does your card image and verse match (is it appropriate for) the age, sex and/or relationship of the category?

Example: a pink floral is not appropriate for men or boys, but would be a good choice for mature women

– Does your Ellipsis meet the GCU Standard? The guideline for consistency is they allow both spaces . . . and no spaces … between the marks just as long as there are a) only three marks and b) there is a preceding space when coming after a word … OR trailing space when coming before a word.

DO NOT use “your text here” or names/addresses/dates as placeholders

DO NOT use poems, quotes and verses that you don’t have the right to use, even when using something in the public domain; credit the originator to protect yourself and GCU.

NOTE: The Papyrus font is no longer supported. Please choose another font style. Learn more

NOTE: The following typefaces will be difficult to read at any size smaller than noted below:

Edwardian – 20

Bernhard Fashion bt – 16

Bible Script – 16

Curlz -16

Freehand591 -16

Snell – 16

Times New Roman – 12

More About Creating Verses

Inside Verse Nuts & Bolts

9 – Photo / Custom Cards

DO keep your Custom Text Boxes within the safety margin (Print Margin Preview Tool)

DO keep your Custom Text Boxes from touching one another.

DO make your Custom Text Boxes large enough to not only hold the placeholder text, but to allow room for letters such as; ‘j’, or ‘y’ (for example) to define the descender line, therefore making sure the text box will fit all letters the customer enters.

DO make sure your Custom Text Boxes align such that text will be properly justified, i.e. Centered, Right or Left. Alignment is manually created by you for the text boxes, so place them carefully and use the Alignment tool within the font choice area to choose a justification that will allow the customer’s text to automatically line up as you intended for the design.

DO check your spelling, punctuation and grammar within your Custom Text Boxes

DO use the Preview Function before a final Save of your Photo Card design. Text boxes which are not quite long enough or tall enough will only be visible using the preview tool, by showing your text scattered rather than placed where you intended.

DO NOT let your Photo Placeholder Boxes overlap each other

NOTE: Photo Cards must have at least 1 of the categories a Photo Card / Your Photo Here category

Learn More About Creating Custom Cards

Designer Tips for Photo Cards

GCU University Video on Custom Front Cards

10 – Last but not Least

Before you leave your submission sitting in the ‘pending’ line for the reviewers, be sure to go preview your card with the Print Margin Tool. Make sure all visual imagery and text elements that are important to the design are within the yellow safety line. This includes borders, if you choose to use borders BE SURE that when you check the Print Margins they won’t be cut off 3 of 4 sides leaving a lopsided design which will get sent to the customer.

Please note – If the background or other elements in your design are the same color as the text box or placeholder box and you are unable to clearly see the outline, you can CHANGE THE COLOR in the CARD INFORMATION area to the left of the preview image.


  • Age & Relation Specific: Cards that are both age and relationship specific can only go in the Relationship Specific category, not both. This is in an effort to avoid over populating the Age Specific category for shoppers.
  • St. Patrick’s Day: St. Patrick’s Day is also called St. Paddy’s Day but never St. Patty’s Day. St. Pat’s is an acceptable alternative. Also the shamrock associated with Ireland, Irish and St. Patrick’s day is a three-leave clover, not a four-leaf clover.
  • New Cards May Not Show for 24 hours – Newly approved cards and changes to cards (category, image, keywords, etc.) can take up to 24 hours to be reflected on the site.

If you need a link to your card for a shopper asap, follow the instructions below:

  1. In your storefront sort your gallery/private gallery by newest
  2. Click on the SHOPPING CART ICON below your card thumbnail to drop it in your cart
  3. Go to the card in your cart and get the”Share Card Link” link
  4. Share this link with your shopper
  5. Keep the card in YOUR cart until the shopper has placed it in their cart


  1. In your storefront sort your gallery/private gallery by newest
  2. Click on the PENCIL ICON below your card thumbnail to go to the card’s Personalize Your Card page
  3. Copy this page’s URL from your browser’s navigation bar
  4. Share this link with your shopper.
  • Punctuation – CARD FRONT: To allow for creative composition with card front text we have established the following guideline for punctuation:

For the Card Front, we use the following format and guide;

A comma is optional if on two lines:

A comma is needed if all on one line: Happy Birthday, Grandma

A comma would not be needed in this case: Happy Birthday to my Grandma.

Happy Birthday


On the Inside Verse, the standard punctuation rules apply;

A comma is needed if all on one line: Happy Birthday, Grandma

A comma IS needed if on two lines:

Happy Birthday,


A comma would not be needed in this case: Happy Birthday to my Grandma.

See here on the blog for examples:

  • Good-bye Variations: There is much confusion on the proper usage of”goodby” which is derived from”God be with yo”. GCU favors”goodby” and”good-by” but will accept “good by” which is the least acceptable form but not offensive – of course goodbye is preferred.
  • 3rd Party Content – NO AS-IS: GCU looks for unique and creative submissions, not creative that can be found on many other sites. As such, 3rd party content cannot be used ‘as is’. ‘As is’ usage would be considered; just adding text, changing color, adding a border, etc. If you wish to use 3rd party images on GCU, you must create something new and different by using them as an element in a new design where the original image is no longer recognizable in it’s original form. Despite the original artist’s permission to use their images ‘as is’, GCU will not accept them if not transformed into a new design. Using the original work ‘as is’ with no or only nominal or subtle changes to create a card is merely ‘copying’ and is not permitted on Greeting Card Universe. Learn more Here and Here and Here
  • 3rd Party Content – CANVA: At this time, GCU does not accept works created by/in Canva. When Canva provides a clear commercial use license / terms of use and allows users to provide links to the individual elements used in the new composition this will be reconsidered.
  • Bible Verse Usage: GCU will only accept biblical quotes from bibles clearly stated to be in the public domain. Please confirm that your Bible verse is from a public domain publication of the Bible by providing a direct URL link to the quote that clearly shows the bible version is in the public domain. Place this information in the Notes to Reviewer. For your assistance: The King James Bible and the World English Bible are both in the public domain but you are not limited to these two versions. You may use other bible versions as long as the URL link clearly shows that they are in the public domain.
  • Superscript: GCU requires ordinal indicators (st, nd, rd, th) to be superscript on the front design of cards. This will give your cards a more polished and professional look. More
  • Typography – Golden Rules: GCU will not accept cards which are serious offenders of ignoring the basic guidelines of typography, as the result is simply not a professional looking greeting card. Typography is not an ‘after-thought’ that you slap on an image and call it a greeting card. Your text is a critical design element and should look as though it’s addition was well thought out. Follow these ‘Golden Rules’ and not only will your typography have a much better chance at being approved by the GCU Review Team, but you will have significantly improved the marketability of your card. More
  • Unsupported Characters – Inside Verse: Your inside verse has one or more unsupported characters which means they will NOT print correctly. You can see the cryptic character(s) in the inside image Large View of your card. Note GCU inside verses only supports ASCII and Extended ASCII characters. More
  • Inside Verse – Line Breaks: Please adjust your inside verse so the line break(s) occur at logical and balanced points in the verse and the text does not simply wrap around to the next line. See the blog for details and examples.
  • Typography – Curved Text: Special text treatment like curves, arcs, twists, and bends should be used sparingly and executed professionally. Please review these tips, dos and don’ts regarding curved text.
  • Word Cloud Art: Please refer to these tips, dos and don’ts re: Word Cloud Art
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