by Allen Wyatt
(last updated September 10, 2016)
Louise wonders if there is a quick and easy way to make tent cards for a dinner table. She would like to have a design or logo and then the person's name on both back and front.
The first step is to figure out the size of the cards you want to print. Why is this the first step? Because the ultimate card size determines how many cards you can print on a piece of paper. You can experiment with scraps of paper, cut to various sizes, to see what final size you want. Let's say, for instance, that your want a small tent card—your final card size is going to be 3 inches by 4 inches. That way, when you fold the card, you'll end up with a 3-inch by 2-inch "tent." With this size card, you can fit 6 such cards on a sheet of paper.
Once you know the size of card you want and how those cards will fit on a printed page, open a new Word document and adjust the margin sizes to accommodate the layout you came up with. In the case of the 3 x 4 cards, placing two cards side-by-side lengthwise requires 8 inches. (The two cards would occupy 3 x 8 inches.) Since the paper is 8.5 inches wide, theoretically you can set your left and right margins at a quarter-inch and fit the cards. (I say "theoretically" because some printers cannot print as close as a quarter-inch to the edge of the page. Each printer is different; you'll want to experiment with yours to see if you can.)
With the left and right margins set, do the same calculations to determine what the top and bottom margins should be. Again, using the 3 x 4 cards as an example, you stacking the cards 3-high requires 9 inches. With an 11-inch sheet length, that means you should set both top and bottom margins at 1 inch each.
Now all you need to do is to create the actual cards. Some people like to do this using a table, while others prefer to use text boxes. If you go the text box route, create a text box and size it to match one face of your tent card. For the example 3 x 4 tent card, that means you would size the text box to be 3 x 2, which is one side (or "face") of the tent card. In formatting the text box, you'll also want to add a border, which will later help with positioning and cutting the cards.
If you choose to use a table, the table you create needs to have a cell for each face of your tent cards. For the 3 x 4 cards, you would end up with a 3 row by 4 column table—each column represents a card face. You can adjust the table properties so that each row is exactly 3 inches high and each column is exactly 2 inches wide. Just like with the text boxes, you'll probably want to add a border to the cells in the table. Doing so isn't required for positioning, but it will help in later cutting the cards and folding them.
Now you can add your text and images to your tent cards. If you are using a text box, position the text and image within the text box exactly as you want. Then, select the text box (not the contents of the text box, but the text box itself) and press Ctrl+C. This copies the finished tent-card face to the Clipboard. Press Ctrl+V and you now have two tent-card faces in your document. Position and rotate the faces as necessary so you have a fully finished tent card. You can continue the copy, paste, and position process until you have your tent cards filling the full sheet, as desired.
If you are using a table, type the text into the upper-left cell of the table and place the image in the cell, as well. Then, use the Direction tool (on the Table Layout tab of the ribbon) to turn the text 90 degrees. This affects just the text; you'll need to rotate the image by using the rotate handle to position it as you want. With the one face completed, select all the contents of the cell (your text and image) and press Ctrl+C. Now, place the insertion point into the second cell of the first row and press Ctrl+V. Using the Direction tool, again, choose to turn the text 270 degrees and rotate the image accordingly. Continue this process for each of the other card faces on the sheet until you have as many cards as desired.
Regardless of whether you are using text boxes or a table, you can now print your cards (preferably on card stock), cut them out along the border lines, and fold them to create the finished "tents."
If this seems like a lot of work—and it can be, depending on how many cards you end up with on each sheet of paper—then you may want to try alternative approaches. One such approach is to purchase commercial tent cards and use whatever template software they may provide with the cards. Another is to use specialized software that can print tent cards automatically. One such software program, suggested by one reader, is called Perfect Table Plan:
The software costs (as of this writing) just under $30, but it does a lot more than just print tent cards. If you have a need for planning the seating in addition to doing tent cards, then it may be a good solution.
You could also try Microsoft's Office.com website, where you'll find pre-made Word templates. Look for templates that have "name cards" or "table cards" in the description (in addition to "tent cards") and you'll find some options that may fit your needs.
Additional ideas for how to create tent cards can be found at these websites:
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