how to print flashcards at home
August 12, 2017 3:14 PM   Subscribe

I would like to bulk print some Spanish/English vocabulary flashcards onto cardstock. My thought is that I can print 30 or so cards onto a single piece of 8 1/2 x 11 cardstock, front and back and then cut the cardstock into multiple cards (each one about 2.8" x 1.1" ) . The exact details are not important - just the basic idea.

What I'm looking for is a way to properly place the English words on one side of the sheet and Spanish words on the other side so that they match up, are well centered, and generally look good. The resulting cards should all be the same size. It would also be nice to have dotted lines printed on one side showing where to cut. Currently I have the words in text (utf-8) files separated by commas,

This is something I could probably figure out how to do myself but I'm hoping that someone already has done it for me. Perhaps a web-based thing where I upload the csv file and It displays the front and back pages for me to print.

Thank You.
posted by metadave to Computers & Internet (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
There are templates for two-sided business cards that would probably work--for example.
posted by hydropsyche at 3:39 PM on August 12, 2017

There are also perforated business cards for printing, like this. If you're willing to go up to index card size, my old inkjet prints on 3x5 cards, as long as I'm willing to feed them in manually.
posted by piedmont at 3:46 PM on August 12, 2017

I have used flashcards for learning vocabulary since the early 70s and I applaud you for doing so. My recommendation for creating them is to write the word on a 3x5 card and write its counterpart on the back. It takes longer than using a computer program, but it begins the process of solidifying the link in your brain. I've done this with Latin, German, French, Hebrew, and the elements of various legal principles for the California bar exam.
posted by janey47 at 3:55 PM on August 12, 2017 [2 favorites]

I use a free-software program called Inkscape for projects like this. It's similar to Adobe Illustrator: it has great positional control of text and graphics. I would set up an 8.5x11" grid the size you like, then put placeholder texts in the boxes, then fiddle with margins & such so that your printer registers accurately when you flip the page over and print the back.

Then, it's just a matter of typing in the words and printing.

For larger cards (4x6 and up, probably) you can set up a Word template with one word or topic per page, and print even/odd on a single-sided printer.

Hand printing, as janey47 recommends, is a great idea, unless you have OCD and terrible handwriting (like me!)
posted by spacewrench at 4:42 PM on August 12, 2017 [1 favorite]

I did this with a spreadsheet, carefully laid out, and laboriously copy/pasting in each page of cards, left-right backwards / other language on a duplicate sheet then printing it on the back of the first language sheet, then cutting with scissors. The act of making the cards is part of the learning process, and it helped me a _lot_. (A in university honors language class at an age when most people have given up learning languages). It was great, and I kept the cards.

BTW, I made hundreds of cards, and I would go through them removing the ones I was super confident of from the deck as I went. The diminishing deck size gave a great feeling of progress, and it helped me order them easiest to hardest for later reference - I could review the easy ones one time before a test, and the harder ones twice, and the hardest ones as many times as it took.

There were a lot of cutting with scissors, a number of printing mistakes that I had to do over, and a lot of painstaking checking that I'd done the backwards copying thing right -- all of it helped me learn the language.
posted by amtho at 6:41 PM on August 12, 2017 [1 favorite]

It might be easier to split this up into two separate operations... the printing and the card making. You can print your text on label stock, and cut your cards, and then stick the labels on the cards just the way you want them. No need to mess with anything double-sided.
posted by Too-Ticky at 2:21 AM on August 13, 2017

+1 for perforated business cards on a single sheet. Avery or similar. You can even do duplex printing if your printer supports it. (Practice on a regular sheet of paper with just a few cards filled in first to make sure you've done it right.)

Personally, when I was in school I liked to buy cool colored pens from JetPens to make my cards, but I have disgustingly neat printing.
posted by xyzzy at 4:11 AM on August 13, 2017

Try Printable Index Cards: I have a similar project and I wrote by hand, which is time consuming. I'm using the printable index cards next time. Or you can use larger printable labels and stick onto cards.
posted by loveandhappiness at 7:06 AM on August 13, 2017

If you don't want to pay for fancy perforator paper, you can use the same software to get up the cards, print them out and then cut them yourself.

If getting the fronts and backs matched up is a problem, you can use a larger format card with one language above the other, fold it in half and tape or staple it together. That will also give you a stiffer card if you using regular printer paper.

Using Microsoft Word, you have access to many, many options for sizes based on all the Avery products. You store the words in a spreadsheet and do a mail merge which makes easy to add words and to make sure the right word and translation are lined up.
posted by metahawk at 11:14 AM on August 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: None of the answers here were exactly what I was looking for so I went with the "do it yourself" option.

Here's a link to a working webapp that reads a CSV file from your computer and then prints out front and back pages to be cut into multiple (30 by default but that's adjustable ) flashcards.

I ended up ordering 8.5x11 cardstock (110 weight) which was too thick for my printer ( Brother 2270-DW ) to take from the paper tray so I had to manually feed the printer sheet by sheet. If I had used a lighter weight paper I could have used two sided printing to print multiple sheets of cards all at once but I wanted the thicker "index card" feel.

If you use this tool, set printer margins to "none" for your printer.

Here's a write up with more details.
posted by metadave at 2:57 PM on August 18, 2017

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