The 3X5 Index Card: Oh, the Possibilities

I’ve never used an index card for any of the uses that spring immediately to mind — taking notes, making lists, storing recipes or keeping files. But paper person that I am, I’m never without a slippery package of the cheap little fellas and I go through them so quickly you’d think I was a fifties era grad student working on my thesis about the saints of 12th century Estonia.  And I’m no Nabokov, who’d write separate scenes from his novels on index cards then shuffle them around until he found a plot line he liked. (That might be fun, though.)

I once had a printer that fed them effortlessly — man that was fun! When I traveled I’d print out a pic on the cheap stock and make my own postcards. The early Kodak digital camera that paired with the printer has long since been retired and I still miss it.

But I make, in about a half a second, my own correspondence cards: (I own a couple of rubber stamp alphabet sets.)

Speaking of stamps, I carve a simple stamp every year when I make my Christmas cards. The gift tags match. Oh, how I love my cheapo old paper punch…I’m ashamed of displaying my first stab at stab binding, but I carry this baby book around in my purse. It’s sturdy — bless those card stock pages.

A pair of scissors and a 3X5 = a 3″ X  2 1/2″ pop up card:

Or a pop up place card:

And I haven’t even begun to consider the purposes to which a cheap rectangle of thin cardboard could be put. Mini paper dolls? Primitive funnel? There has to be a perfect origami application somewhere…

How do you use this outdated piece of office technology?



Filed under Less than 50 cents, Paper

7 responses to “The 3X5 Index Card: Oh, the Possibilities

  1. Ah back in sync. WAY back.

    For me anyways it’s a lot to do with the Magic of Card Stock… in a perfectly palmable package… the wonderful drag offered a writing instrument on their surface. All this, and more!

    I have always favored colored ones, which have in my experience (which means since the age of 5 or so) are almost always ruled, which is not as good as unruled, but I’ll take it, to get colored index cards.

    Have indeed used ’em for at least one of their appointed tasks, accumulating and sorting bibliographic sources for college papers, which I did love to carry in an even-then or already anachronistic brown (card stock, the slightly heavier gauge such things are made of) sized-right envelope with gusseted sides and a dyed-to-match cotton string closure.

    Could hold quite a wad, too, on account of the aforementioned gussets, answering the question suggesting itself when the thing was crispy new, WHY is this dyed-to-match cotton string tie so dang LONG?

    M. is it always white, unruled for you? Have you ever ventured into 4x6s?

  2. Priscilla, I’m no 3X5 white zealot — at all. I own some 4X6 cards too — they’re even better for DIY postcards than the smaller size. Nor have I limited myself to white, but that’s what I have on hand right now.

    And gusseted envelopes wrapped up with string? You KNOW they’re one of my favorite things.

  3. Kim Shook

    I have an entire extra large metal file box filled with cards – each has a daily/weekly/monthly etc., etc. CHORE on it. Years ago, I got obsessed with these ladies:
    The sidetracked home executives. They promise homemaking bliss if you will only follow their system of chore cards. I actually did it for a couple of years – deeply embarrassed by the idea – but working outside of my home got me…er…sidetracked. But honestly, it was a good system for slovenly me. And I’ve never tossed the box. I keep thinking that I’ll get back to it and stop living like white trash.

  4. Oh, yesyesyes. But I have to bring them in special, because they don’t have them in Asia, what with their super efficient writing systems and all allowing them to fit whole [i]books[/i] onto a 3×5 card. I am almost to the bottom of my stack, signaling it’s time once again to return to NA. I use them primarily for “to do” lists and to copy recipes from the internet to bring into my kitchen. 3×5 is exactly the amount of free counter space I tend to have at any given time, so it works out perfect like.

    Also: Hipster PDA:

  5. I love them—they are just hand-sized, they hold whatever scribble I’m jotting-to-remember and the thickness of the stock will accommode hanging on most of my fridge magnets (keeping in step here).

    Of course, if I were to open that drawer today, there would be such a run on the little doll-paper for cutting and stacking and coloring on—we wouldn’t be able to see the carpet for the flurry.

    And I’m the common-place carder, despite my great envy of Lucy’s elegant clutch of vellum leaves, inscribed with her perfect European hand, and secured with a dainty lavender ribbon. That’s foie gras to my peas-and-cornbread sheaf, but tis only fitting.

  6. absurdoldbird

    Mmm… I think the index cards used in the UK are/were a different size and were always lined which makes using them for different purposes rather difficult.

    I use all sorts of thing, backs of envelopes, post its, blank postcards, anything I can get my hands onto really. Love your ideas here!

  7. Pingback: Index Card Update:My Hapless Attempt at Organization « Cheap and Cheerful

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