If you have been longing for one of those greeting card programs out there, but have never been able to justify the expense for just one card, here’s a tip: create the card in Word. If Microsoft Word is sitting on your computer, you have everything you need to create a greeting card. This process is also a great exercise to help you learn more about using tables in Word. Once you understand tables, you can easily see how Word creates nametag and label layouts too.
Using Word’s table feature, you can create a simple card layout that will print out on a plain old piece of 8.5 x 11 paper. You just fold the paper into a card. The process is quick and easy if you follow a couple of simple steps. In fact, if you decide that making cards is a really cool thing, you can even save your layout as a template, so you can make cards “on the fly” whenever the spirit moves you.
First open up Word. This technique works in virtually any version, but the menu directions here are for Word 97/2000. In earlier versions or Word XP, some of the menu choices may vary. It’s also very helpful to show paragraph marks during this process. To show these invisible characters, choose Tools|Options and click the View tab. Under Nonprinting characters, click to place a checkmark next to Paragraph marks.
To create your card, basically, you are going to create a 3 row, 3 column table. The middle row and column act as “spacer” areas so that your margins will work out correctly and your text or graphic will be centered in the panel. You’ve all probably seen cards that when folded look off-center. Very unprofessional. But by adding in the extra spacer row and column in the table, you avoid this problem. The key is that the center spacer row is double the width of the top margin and the spacer column is double the width of the left margin.
To figure out how big the panels need to be, you add the margin, plus the spacer and divide by two. For example, in the sample card here, the margins are .75 inches. So, the spacer area needs to be 1.5 inches (double the margin). The paper is 8.5 x 11, so to figure out the height of the panel, you add the margins (1.5) plus the spacer (1.5) and then divide the total height minus the margins and spacer by two, i.e., 11-3=8. 8 divided by 2 = 4, so that’s the value you put into the row height field.
Similarly, to figure out the width, you add the margins (.75+.75=1.5) plus the spacer (1.5) and subtract that value from the paper width, i.e. 8.5 minus 3 = 5.5. Now divide that by 2 and you get 2.75. that’s the value you put into the column width.
So with those concepts in mind, here’s how you set up the page.
1. Choose File|Page Setup and click the Margins tab. Make the Margins .75 at the top, left and right. Make the margin .65 at the bottom. (You need a little bit of extra space on the bottom margin because even on a page that only contains a table, Word is always going to have one paragraph below the table.) Set the Header and Footer to be 0″ from the edge. Click OK.
2. Choose Table|Insert Table. Change the number of columns and rows to both be 3. Click OK. A tiny table appears.
3. Choose Table|Select Table, so the whole table is highlighted. Now choose Table|Cell Height and Width. In the Row tab, click the Next Row button, so the dialog box changes to show Height of Row 1. Change the drop down to show At least. Now change the value next to At: to 4″ (be sure to type in the ” to represent inches). Click the Next Row button and make the center row 1.5″. Click the Next Row button again and make the height of row three 4″ as well. Click OK.
4. If you showed paragraph marks like I suggested, you’ll see that Word has pushed that last little paragraph marker onto a new page. Since you don’t want to kill trees by printing out extra pages, we’re going to force that paragraph back onto page 1. Highlight it by clicking in the left margin. Now change the font size to 2 pt by choosing Format|Font and changing the size to 2. Click OK. The paragraph is now on page 1 in that space you left for it in the bottom margin.
5. Now, you need to fix the column widths. Choose Table|Select Table to select the entire table again. Now Choose Table|Cell Height and Width. . In the Column tab, click the Next Column button, so the dialog box changes to show Width of Column 1. Change the drop down to show At least. Now change the value next to At: to 2.75″ (be sure to type in the ” to represent inches). Click the Next Column button and make the center column 1.5″. Click the Next Column button again and make the height of column three 2.75″ as well. Click OK.
Now you see your layout on the screen! The next step is to put something IN the layout. When you fold the paper, the lower right panel is where the inside text will appear. The upper left panel is where the cover will appear. However, here’s the other trick. The text or art for the cover panel actually has to be upside-down. There are some limitations here, but even if you only have Word, you can get around them.
For example, suppose you want to create a Thank You card. In general, you can’t create upside down text in Word. However, you can use Word Art. So, to add the text, first click in the upper left panel of your layout (column 1, row 1). Now be sure the Drawing toolbar is showing. Choose View|Toolbars and make sure there a checkmark next to Drawing. Click the Insert Word Art button, which looks like a slanting A. Select a WordArt Style, type your message, and click OK. You see the Word Art on the page along with the Word Art toolbar. Click and drag the Word Art to the right spot on the page. Now click the Rotate button on the toolbar and click and drag a green handle to turn the Word Art upside down. Now type your inside card text into the lower right panel, print and fold the card.
If you spend much time with WordArt, you’ll probably soon get sick of the curvy graphics. A better way to make more fun cards is to actually use a photo or image from a drawing program. For example, if you have PaintShop Pro, Corel Draw or Adobe Photoshop or other graphics program, you can easily rotate an image upside down and save the file. Then back in Word, just choose Insert|Picture|From file to insert your rotated picture right into the card layout you set up in Word. Voila!
If you like your card layout, you can save it as a template. Take out the graphics or other text, but be sure to leave the table set up. Now choose File|Save As and change the Save As type drop down box to Document Template. Give your template a descriptive name, like Greeting Card.dot and it will be available the next time you choose File|New. To create a new card, just select your template, add your graphics and text and print. It’s easy!