Your best tips for working with stacks of 5x3" paper index cards?
October 11, 2009 8:11 PM   Subscribe

Give me your best tips and tricks for dealing with large volumes of 5x3" index cards!

As a preface, I'm looking specifically for tips on managing paper index cards, not recommendations or tips for programs, or moving to electronic systems.

For the purposes of memorizing information, I've been making decks of index cards, at the rate of one or two hundred new cards (one or two decks) a week. I anticipate doing this for a while, with an end product eventually of a few thousand cards, sorted into probably thirty to fifty decks, of one or two hundred cards, each.

While I don't specifically need to shuffle (I'll be reviewing each deck largely 'in order'), I would like to have a system where I can rapidly flip through a deck, add and remove cards very easily. I'm also using both sides of each card, for purposes of quizzing myself.

I'm finding it cumbersome to manage several decks of hundreds of loose cards each, and it's becoming quite a chore to keep the stacks neat, organized, separate, and clean. I'm also having trouble identifying what the content of a given deck is at a glance. Also, I'd like to be able to 'flag' a card for further review without removing it from its given position in a deck.

Other than the obvious rubber band, are there any tips, tricks, or tools that you have for managing decks of paper index cards? Should I hole punch them in one corner and put each deck on a giant round key ring, in order to review? Are there index card carriers? Any cool gadgets or organizational tips, would be greatly appreciated!
posted by NucleophilicAttack to Grab Bag (11 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Get index card files or recipe files at about 5 bucks each from Staples. (Bet the dollar stores have a few too)

Color code the boxes with label stickers, and use those awesome Post-it Page Markers to flag cards of note.

(precise organization makes me swoon)
posted by alight at 8:23 PM on October 11, 2009

Best answer: Index card box? Maybe flag with post it flags?
posted by b33j at 8:23 PM on October 11, 2009

The boxes come in different sizes and you can use colour-coded cards to separate them, or an index.
posted by b33j at 8:26 PM on October 11, 2009

Ooh, look, they come in different colours (as opposed to the colour-coded cards) and in a flip-book as shown here in the oxford products, and with a variety of index tabbed cards (you can even get blank ones).
posted by b33j at 8:29 PM on October 11, 2009

Huge metal butterfly clips totally own rubber bands. Rubber bands are for the birds.
posted by Juicy Avenger at 8:34 PM on October 11, 2009

Best answer: For marking individual cards for review, mark the edges of them with highlighters. If you do the color coding right with highlighters, you can make it so yellow + blue = green so when a card is green it's reviewed completely and the yellow or blue means something like needs review, not complete. And if you are keeping them "in order" you can write something on the edges of all the cards so like the left side of the stack you could write the subject on the edges.
posted by bigmusic at 9:10 PM on October 11, 2009

Not sure whether the dimensions are totally compatible, but you might have some luck with organizing solutions designed for sports trading cards or post cards.
posted by GPF at 10:30 PM on October 11, 2009

I try to avoid PowerPoint as much as I can and as an alternative I make my presentations on index cards. I carry them around using crossed rubber bands like these. Not so much a storage solution, but for me it's the best way to take them on the road.
posted by ouke at 11:55 PM on October 11, 2009

Might be overkill for you, but this problem has been considered previously.
posted by d. z. wang at 1:54 AM on October 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

Perhaps one of the many librarians can chime in here, but weren't the cards in card catalogs 3 x 5? Many of these old organizers are still around as libraries dumped them in favor of the electronic catalog. They hold bazillions of cards, are easy to organize and they look great.
posted by caddis at 6:51 AM on October 12, 2009

Best answer: Probably a bit much for your project, but Robert Pirsig goes into the use of index cards in some depth in his book Lila.

Levenger sells a ton of index card organizational stuff. Pricey, but generally good quality.
posted by Bron at 7:00 PM on October 12, 2009

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