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The Evolution of Game Design – Microsoft Word

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This is part 2 of my series: “The Evolution of Game Design.”
Check out part 1 – Notecards and Proxies if you missed it.
And see answers to 3 of the most popular prototyping questions here.

Should You Use Microsoft Word to Make Cards?

I was going to name this article “how to make a card game using Microsoft Word.”

But I don’t actually recommend using this method anymore because there is a much more efficient way I have found.

While using Microsoft Word makes your cards look better, it still isn’t very efficient when you need to balance (edit) your cards.

So this is not a tutorial. And I won’t go into too many details as to how I did this (here is a tutorial of someone else showing you how if you are curious).

But I do think it is interesting for new game designers to see the different ways I have used to create my own card game prototypes.

And this isn’t just me. microsoft-word-to-make-playing-cards

A lot of card game designers (Mike Abrahamson and Chris Amburn included) start by making a quick prototype using a pen and notecards.

And then they want to make their cards look better. So they use a program like Microsoft Word to format and layout their cards.

Again, I don’t recommend that you use Microsoft Word to make your cards, so I won’t go into detail.

But I will tell you a summary of the…

Using Microsoft Office for Card Games – Pros and Cons

Here are several Pros and Cons for using Microsoft Office to format your own card games.


  • Looks Nicer than the cards you created with a pen and notecards.
  • You can format the cards to be standard sized playing cards (2.5 in X 3.5 in.)
  • It’s a well known software. Most people know how to use Microsoft Word.


  • Updating the cards is still very slow and time consuming. It seemed like I had to format each individual card every time I updated it’s text (or name).
  • Auto creation of the cards is very difficult. I used the Mail Merge function to set up my cards. But it was hard and I ran into multiple formatting issues.
  • It’s a worse option than NanDeck and Adobe InDesign.

Adobe InDesign and NanDeck are fairly similar and both can save you a lot of time during the prototyping phase.

But I use NanDeck now because:

  • It’s what I know best
  • It’s free
  • The developer is really awesome.
  • It was created specifically for game designers like you and me.

Which method of prototyping do you currently use for your card games? Let us know in the comments below.