Remarkably, the humble index card has been around for recording and indexing since 1760.
There are so many different reasons people use index cards, from being a study aid for students from preschool to university to being a useful backup to people giving professional presentations or being a great way to note down recipes and shopping lists.
Handwritten index cards can prove difficult to read, so it’s best to print cards containing the most important information so that the text is clear and readable to everyone – especially if multiple people will read that index card.
In this article, we’ll be giving you tips on making the best use of a printer to print on index cards, looking at this from different angles.
1. Printing Index Cards Using Google Docs
Google Docs is the browser-based alternative to using Microsoft Word, letting you collaborate with other people, meaning you can share index cards you’ve made or print index cards created by others who share them with you.
A. To create index cards on Google Docs, you will first need to customize your paper’s size. This can be done by using the Google Doc’s add-on called ‘Page Sizer’.
B. Add ‘Page Sizer’ by going to the toolbar where you will find ‘Add-ons’ and the ‘Get add-ons’. Search for ‘Page Sizer’ by typing its name.
C. ‘Page Sizer’ is a free add-on, and once you have located it, you should see a blue ‘Free’ button. Click on this, and ‘Page Sizer’ will be added to your Add-on list.
D. Now, whenever you want to make index size pages in Google Docs, go to the Add-on list, where ‘Page Sizer’ will be displayed in the list. Click it and start creating your index cards.
E.To print your index card from Google Docs, ensure that you have your printer set up correctly.
F. When printing, ensure that the print panel shows a paper size that matches what you are using in the printer. If 3×5 or 6×4 cardstock is being used, this should be matched up in the print panel.
G. Some printers come with a separate input tray for cardstock as this is a thicker print media than normal paper. If that is the case with your printer, make sure the index card has been placed in the correct tray.
H. With everything set up, you’re free to print!
2. Printing Index Cards Using MS Word
Before printing index cards with MS Word for the first time, check that your printer can handle the thickness of cardstock you are using. Some older and entry-level printers can have a problem, so run one test first, checking for smears as well as whether the printer can push the cardstock through.
To print index cards from MS Word, do the following steps:
A. Go to the ‘Page Layout’ Tab
B. Find ‘Page Setup’.
C. Locate the ‘Size’ dropdown menu.
D. Choose ‘Index Card’ or ‘Post Card’.
If using MS Word 2003, the process is slightly different:
A. Go to the ‘File’ Menu
B. Find ‘Page Setup’ and click.
C. Find ‘Paper’ tab and click.
D. Set the size of paper appropriate to the dimensions of your index card.
After doing either of the above:
Depending on your version of Microsoft Word, you can choose the orientation of the index card.The default orientation for printing from MS Word is Portrait. Here’s how to change the orientation after setting the size.
A. Click ‘Page Setup’.
B. Find the ‘Orientation’ dropdown menu.
C. Choose ‘Landscape’.
Finally, for MS Word, you may sometimes use a cardstock that doesn’t fit any predefined size, as shown. Don’t worry; you can still print. Follow these instructions:
A. Go to the ‘Page Layout’ Tab.
B. Find ‘Page Setup’.
C. Locate the ‘Size’ dropdown menu.
D. Click ‘More Paper Sizes’.
E. Click the ‘Paper’ tab.
F. Enter the dimensions of the card you are using.
3. Printing Index Cards Using Pages
Pages is a word processor that works across Mac, iPad, iPhone, or a PC if not using Apple products. Like Google Docs, it is a great way for multiple people to collaborate on one document.
You’ll be able to make index cards of different sizes in Pages, and we won’t go through the whole process for that here.Instead,we’ll get straight to the actual printing aspect of things.
Make sure you have your printer set to the appropriate size of card you want to use. In this example of how to do it, we will use a 4×6 card.
A. Go to ‘Menu’.
B. Click ‘File’.
C. Click ‘Page Setup’.
D. Click ‘Paper Size’.
E. Click ‘4×6’.
Remember, in paper size; you can change the size to whatever best suits your need whether 3×5, 4×6, 5×8 or larger.
4. Setting Up Excel To Use Index Card Sized Spreadsheets
Some people prefer to create their index cards using Excel. This is no more complicated than any of the other programs. Again, we’re going to explain this in the context of a 4×6 index card, but you can set any dimensions you wish instead.
A. From Excel, click ‘Page Layout’.
B. Click ‘Page Setup’.
C. Click ‘Size’.
D. Click ‘Custom’.
E. Change the width to ‘4’ inches.
F. Change the height to ‘6’ inches.
This will then allow you to work on an Excel sheet that will print to the 4×6 inch size. Make sure the size also appears in the print preview panel before you click print.
5. Can All Printers Print On 3×5 Index Cards?
No. You will find many have a minimum print media size of 4×6 inches. You need to check the printer’s specification sheet to see the minimum print media size it can handle.
If your printer does print directly to 3×5 index cards, first check the above instructions on getting the size you want within Google Docs, MS Word, MS Excel, or Pages.
Once this is done and your index card typed up, you will be ready to print by doing the following:
A. Load your 3×5 card into the tray, and click print.
B. Check in the print preview screen that the dimensions and orientation you want are matching up.
C. Click ‘Ok’ and get your print.
6. What Can I Do If My Printer Doesn’t Print 3×5 Print Media?
If you go to a stationary shop or browse Amazon, you’ll find perforated 8.5×11 inch sheets. (You will also find instructions of the document template to use for printing these on the packet).
Use these 8.5×11 inch sheets to print multiple cards at once, and then cut them down to the 3×5 inch size that you require. This will be easy to manage because of the perforations.
A. Printing On Both Sides Of An Index Card
Some printers come with an automatic duplex option, where it will print both sides of your index card simultaneously.
B. Auto Duplex Index Cards
To do this, go to your printer and click Printing Preferences > Finishing Tab > Print on both sides> Apply.
This will make duplex printing the default for the printer. You can then disable this again if you want to make single-sided printing the default once your cards are gone.
C. Manual Duplex Index Cards
If you don’t have an automatic duplex printer, you will have to do double-sided printing manually.
For this click the File tab > Print > Settings > Print One-Sided > Manually Print on Both Sides.
After you click print and the first side is done, you will be prompted to flip the index cards over and insert them back into the printer. Make sure you follow the pictorial instructions that appear on the screen so that your text’s alignment and orientation are correct.
Many programs let you create a template for index cards. Just make sure your printer can handle cardstock of the size and thickness you desire to ensure optimum printing.