How to create printable flashcards in Word

april 30, 2024

I'm Ivana Okaro, a student and content creator dedicated to sharing smart study methods and academic tips. Today, I'm excited to introduce a simple yet powerful tool to enhance your study process: printable flashcards. Say goodbye hand cramps from laboriously creating flashcards by hand—you can whip these up in minutes using Microsoft Word!

Why flashcards?

Flashcards are a time-tested study tool, offering a simple and effective way to memorize definitions, dates, names, and more. Whether it's for language learning, exam preparation, or mastering complex concepts, flashcards help you test and reinforce your knowledge.

The secret to making the most of flashcards? Repetition and practice. A quick 10-15 minutes with your flashcards every evening for two weeks goes a lot farther than cramming for three hours the night before the big exam.

So, create your flashcards as early as you can and devote yourself to a little bit of practice each day. By the time your exam rolls around, you’ll be able to recall the material with ease!

Pro tip:

Get free, easily customizable templates for college and university reports, schedules, papers, and more from Microsoft Word.

Step 1: Set up your document

Open Word: Start by launching Microsoft Word. To store your flashcards in the cloud and access your document from anywhere, use Word for the web.

Create a new document: Select Create in the left sidebar, then choose Document on the upper tab to start a fresh page.

Insert a table: Navigate to Insert and select Table. A table with two columns and four rows is ideal for starting.

Adjust the layout: Press Enter to create space in each box, continuing until there’s enough space for your content. Select the font size and style you want to work with. Highlight multiple cells (or the whole table) to apply the style uniformly across your flashcards.

Step 2: Fill in your content

Input your data: In the left column, add words, theories, or concepts you want to learn.

The right column is for the corresponding answers or explanations. Be sure to add each answer directly to the right of the concept it defines—you’ll be folding a printed copy of the table later to make your flashcards.

Enhance your flashcards with images: While technically optional, images can make it even easier to visualize and remember each concept (especially if you’re a visual learner). Add an image to each flashcard by selecting Insert > Pictures. From there, you can choose images from various sources, including Word’s fantastic selection of stock images.

Customize the look: Play with font styles, colors, and sizes to make your flashcards more engaging.

Stylize your table: Use the Table Design tab to change the color of the flashcards. If you’re working with different categories of information, consider making each category a different color.

Step 3: Print and prepare your flashcards

Print your flashcards: When you’re happy with your flashcards, select File > Print. Take a quick peek at the print preview to verify that your layout will print properly; adjust your layout or printer settings as needed. When you’re ready, print away!

Cut and fold: Cut out each row of your table horizontally, then fold each row in half to create a front and backside. (Your concepts or terms from the left column should now be on the front, and your descriptions from the right column should be on the back).

Save your work: You now have an ultra-useful set of custom flashcards! Save your document so you can reuse it to create new flashcards in the future.

How to make the most of your flashcards: Tips and tricks

Now that you know how to create a beautiful set of flashcards, let’s talk about maximizing their benefits. Here’s how to use these handy study tools effectively:

Use spaced repetition

Always remember: Short, frequent review periods are more effective and less overwhelming than marathon cram sessions.

You’ll most likely be using your flashcards for active recall practice (the process of going through each flashcard and trying to remember the answer without flipping it over). This is a great way to strengthen memory retention, but it’s more effective when you repeat the practice over time—a technique known as “spaced repetition.”

Introduce spaced repetition to your study sessions by reviewing your flashcards at increasing intervals—daily at first, then every few days. Gradually extend the interval until you can go a week or more without reviewing them.

Spaced repetition does take a bit of planning ahead, but it’ll save you time and stress in the long run. Don’t be shy about reaching out to your academic instructor(s) and asking for material ahead of time so you can prepare. Most instructors will be happy to accommodate you!

Pro tip

Interested in more classroom-related content? Check out How to create bulletin board letters using PowerPoint and Turn slides into a PowerPoint study guide.

Sort your cards by difficulty

Organize your flashcards into categories based on their difficulty so you can spend more time on the trickier stuff.

Alternatively, sort on the fly as you practice by creating a “missed” pile for any answers you miss. Get through your whole deck, then return to your “missed” pile and try again, challenging yourself to make the pile smaller and smaller. Create a new “missed” pile each session so nothing sneaks up on you.

Mix it up

Shuffle your flashcards regularly to avoid simply memorizing the order and ensure you’re actually learning the material itself.

On a somewhat related note, study with your flashcards in different locations. This will challenge your brain to recall (and maybe even apply) the information in different contexts and settings.

Make it social

Have a friend or partner hold your flashcards and challenge you to make your practice sessions more fun and engaging (plus, it’s always great to have someone around who can provide hints!).

Even better, partner up with a classmate or study group from the course you’re studying for. These folks may be able to help you grasp a tough concept or understand the material in a new way.

Ready for the ultimate challenge in knowledge mastery? Play teacher. It doesn’t matter if you’re teaching a classmate, a family member, or your five-year-old niece—teaching is a powerful way to reinforce your understanding no matter what. It’s very hard to grasp a complex subject well enough to explain it to someone else, especially if you encourage your audience to ask questions. The challenge will help you spot your own knowledge gaps and think about the material in new ways.

Update and customize

Keep your flashcards useful by updating them as you progress in your studies and your understanding deepens. Over time, you’ll have a comprehensive toolkit you can revisit any time you want to brush up on your knowledge.

Remember, consistency is key in retaining information. Tackle your flashcards in short, manageable bursts, and watch how quickly your memory starts to sharpen. Happy studying!

Pro tip:

Go back to school with a template for anything the year may throw at you with free, editable themed templates from Microsoft Create.

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