You can create and print index cards using a number of different apps for example NoteDex and Microsoft Word. If you are using Word you will need to use an index cards template, carefully create cards on different pages, and then print your index cards to your printer. However, it is much easier to use a dedicated app to make and print index cards, like NoteDex - the only index card app available designed to create and print index cards.
In this article we discuss all you need to know about how to make and print index cards, both using Word with an index cards template, and (or) using a dedicated app like NoteDex, and provide a checklist for you that is guaranteed to work and put you into a state of index card happiness! Printing note cards can be great to put your work on your wall or keep in your back pocket for brainstorming or studying. If you are in a rush the TLDR for this article is:
1) Sign up/login to https://NoteDex.app
2) Create your Index Cards
3) Save to PDF - and select the print format (1 card per page or multiple)
4) Print the PDF.
This sequence of steps is shown in our video:
If you are reading this article then you already know that it is not as easy as it sounds. When using Word - it can be difficult, tedious and time consuming. The next hurdle is to print the cards. This can be even trickier, especially regarding the paper choice and printer choices you must make. So, let's get into this!
Photo by Eva Elijas
Overall Steps How to Print on Index Cards
In this article we will discuss each of the following important steps in more detail:
Here is our Printing checklist:
Select the paper type and size you want to use
Select the printer you want to use
Confirm that paper and printer are compatible
Decide if you are doing double sided printing
Confirm if printer is capable of double sided printing or not and if it can handle chosen paper size for double sided action (e.g. maybe it can do letter size but not card size stock) - define your paper flip strategy!
Finalize your printing strategy (i will use this size paper, flip strategy, on this printer)
Purchase correct paper and printer if you don't already have
Select application to print index cards
Create index cards using an index card template or dedicated app
Insert paper into printer
Configure paper size in applications (print options)
Step 1 : Select Paper Type and Size for Cards
Ok, we're only at step 1 but this is already hard! Why?
Well, an index card is by it's very nature is a small note card on card stock usually thicker than paper.
So, you need to first decide are you looking to print 3" x 5" size cards? or 4" x 6" cards?
Then you need to decide whether you will use real blank index cards, or larger paper that you intend to cut to size afterwards. Or a paper stock template like those from Avery.
Furthermore, you will need to check that the paper can work in your printer - including:
a) Is it too thick to go through the printer?
b) Is it too small to go through the printer? Sometimes individual small cards can't pass through properly through a printer - the roller mechanism is not suited and your card will get stuck inside. This happens if the roller mechanism of the printer's print tray that pushes the card through vertically may not be able to press against the card properly and continuously - and sometimes the paper printer guides can't press against the card sides to ensure the cards move steadily through. The mechanism of the rollers needs to be able to move the card through fully so that it not jammed in the printer. You need to make sure the paper can it in the printer tray and printer guide its snugly against them.
Ready to give up already? Perhaps just use our digital index cards app to print index cards and view the cards on your phone!
So, before purchasing any paper cards, make sure your printer's print tray can handle it - 3 x 5 can be more problematic than 4 x 6 due the slightly smaller size.
Step 2: Buy the Card Paper Stock
Ok, now you are ready to get your cards you have a few choices about where to buy your index cards and paper stock from. Obvious choice is of course Amazon, and is a convenient option for purchasing index cards. Popular choices of what to buy include:
Amazon Blank Index Cards both 3 x 5 and 4 x 6 size
Paper stock for index cards
Avery 5388 format perforated cards stock
Whichever you choose do take into account how thick you want the cards to be. We discuss this issue in our article 'Index Card Sizes' - it can make a difference if you are wanting to create double sided cards for studying as flashcards and don't want the answer to show through!
Avery make a paper index card label card stock template #5388 - these are thick paper pages, which have perforated cards on them of size 3" x 5", that you can put into a standard printer. This is a good method since it will also make it easy to print multiple cards and you don't need to figure out how to a) put small index cards into your printer b) how to print on the back of them and c) how to set the paper size! There can be many issues with double sided printing so be ready for some heartache when doing this.
Step 3: Select the Application
There are number of options to create index cards. There is one software in this list that is actually designed to be an index card app and so you can start creating cards more naturally. The other apps need you to configure page paper sizes as part of their word processing software or solution.
App options are:
NoteDex (Easiest Method)
Step 4: Create the Index Cards
We will outline two examples of how to create your cards. Hopefully you will see the advantage of using a dedicated app like NoteDex compared to using Word or other.
Using NoteDex to Create Index Cards
Open NoteDex App
Create a Stack
Create a Card
Start Typing or using digital stylus to draw ink
Click + to add a new card and keep going until you have created all your cards.
How to Print Index Cards on Word.
(or any other word / layout processing software)
Open Microsoft Word
Create a New Document
Adjust paper size in 'Page Layout'- setting in Microsoft Word and set margins as you like - not more than 0.5" max since cards are small.
Alternatively, you can try and find an index card template. There are templates that can be available on the internet. The Avery 5388 is useful for 3 x 5 size and gives you guidelines where to edit. You should also set page orientation to landscape or orientation in 'Page Setup' if the template needs it (this might be different depending on which application you use but in general look for the page layout tab or menu option).
Type on card area / draw if your app can handle ink
Duplicate the page/add a new page to create a new card and keep going until you have created all your cards.
How to print on 3x5 index cards in Google Docs
Similar to using Microsoft Word, you will need to use a template and set the right size.
As explained by Google: "You can customize the size of your paper using the add-on for Docs called Page Sizer. You can get it by going to Add-ons (in the tool bar) > Get add-ons and then searching for it by name. Once you find it, just press the blue Free button to add it to Docs. You can then access it by clicking on Add-ons in the tool bar to display all the add-ons you have."
You can find various index card templates on the web and also you can download the Avery 5388 template in the links provided below and also this page with many Google Doc index card templates.
Step 5: How to Print Index Cards
Continuing our example we'll use NoteDex (no index card template needed) and Word (index card template needed) as the two methods:
Printing Index Cards in NoteDex
You can Print Index Cards using NoteDex. When you see all your cards in the thumbnail view click on the '...' menu and select 'Export as PDF'. You will get a series of options to print - choose either Standard or Avery depending on which card stock you have selected. Once the PDF is generated then open it and print it. Ensure that the page settings are correct. Then click print. Check the printer settings page layout tab - it needs to be set to the right size paper and orientation, and also if you have selected to do double sided or not. Then click 'Print' and you are done! It's also easy in NoteDex to just print a single index card - you can export as an image and print that too.
As you can see NoteDex has many options for you to print multiple index cards on one page - including 3 on one page, 4 on one page (2x2) and 9 on one page (3x3) options.
And here is an example of a finished process - so simple in NoteDex - just create your index cards and then export to PDF in the format you want - even with borders around an Avery 5388 format in case you need to cut your cards out yourself on standard paper!
Printing in Word
Select 'File/Print' from the menu and make sure your Page Setup is correct for the choice of paper sizes you have decided. Then click 'Print' and also check the printer settings are correct - landscape orientation, paper sizes, and double sided as needed. Then click 'Print' and you're done, all ready for your printable index card!
Changing Paper Size in Word or Google Docs
You might find some difficulty in getting Word to print on the right size paper. As mentioned above, it might be that your printer does not support individual 3x4 index cards so you will need to use full size paper or Avery 5388 templates. You will want to make sure that your page size in Word or Google Docs is correct and also when you get to the print menu options to make sure it all looks right. Unfortunately this can be a bit of a pain and require experimentation to get it right!
Which Index Card Paper to Use when Printing?
This is quite an interesting question, as you will have read in this article. Do you use individual cards or a pre-formatted paper template like the Avery? or just plain paper. How thick should your paper be? Well the answer will likely depend on what paper you have available, what can fit your printer, and how much money you want to spend. You might like our other article that goes into more depth on Index Card Sizes.
If you are making paper index cards for studying you want to make sure your answers on the back don't show through! This is when getting a card with good thickness will help and they will also be a bit more rugged as we know you'll be stuffing them into your back jeans pocket ;-)
While the common index cards available on Amazon are either no name brand or from Oxford do try out a few and see which work best for you. Check out our article on index cards sizes that can help you choose the right index card size and thickness. Avery 5388 paper can get quite expensive (about $15 for 150 cards - you pay for the convenience) compared to a standard index cards pack - about $3 for 300 cards!
A Note About Double Sided Printers
Tricky is perhaps the best way to describe. You need to plan out your index cards carefully to make this work well if it is automated.
If the printer can automatically flip the page in duplex/double sided printer settings then you will need to make sure that the odd number index card on your set is the reverse side. There is a setting in NoteDex for this choice. In Word you will need to layout your cards accordingly. If the printer does not handle double sided then it will be best to print all front cards first, then put them back in and print the back of cards.
If you want to make double sided cards then you will need to a little trick. Remember that your printer will print the first three cards on the card stock if you are using the NoteDex app and Avery format. So these will need to be the front of your first three cards - card 1-3.
Then you will take the paper out and put it in again into the printer - this time the reverse side. If you have a printer that handles double sided printing good for you! You can check this usually in the printing settings that appear after you click the print command.
Then it will want to print the back of the cards which will be the page 2 of the template - cards 4-6.
If you are lucky then this has all worked out and you have got your printed double sided index cards!
Microsoft Word Google Docs Index Card templates
If you decided to use an index card template along with your favorite word processor to create a printable index card we have listed a few resources for you:
There are many other index card templates available and also not just for Microsoft Word.
We hope this article has been helpful for you to learn about printing on index cards and flash cards. It's as much as an art as a science actually, and there is going to be little bit of experimentation! NoteDex is the easiest way to print index cards without even using an index card template. Its the easiest way to print compared to using Word, Google Docs or other apps like Anki, Quizlet or Scrivener for instance.
Even though it is expensive, if you want to make cards the easiest way then we recommend the combination of making the cards with NoteDex and printing them onto Avery 5388 paper stock. This will the way to make the cards the easiest way (and they will look the best with all the options available) and the Avery paper makes it easy to print onto virtually any printer. Of course, you can use a word processing software like Word or Google Docs but it's not the simplest or designed for that, especially when you want to create double sided index cards.
If you're printer supports actual cards even better - if you are a writer and think you are going to print a lot of cards then investing in a printer that really supports printing on small cards will be worthwhile in the long run (the Avery paper is not cheap- about $20 or to make 150 cards - each page can print 3 cards). We can't endorse any specific printer but we've include some articles below that talk about some printer options.
We wish you good luck in your journey to index card happiness!