Personalized QSL Cards for Ham Radio

Ham radio operators exchange QSL cards (QSL is short for “received and understood”) to document their contacts. You have many excellent QSL card vendors to choose among, but creating your own “homebrew” QSL makes them special.

The following sample from a high school’s radio club shows how you can easily create a custom card with Microsoft PowerPoint software. This technique is an inexpensive way to make a handful of cards for a special event or contacts made during a family vacation, or whenever you don’t need a large quantity of cards.

There are four cards per PowerPoint slide, with alignment marks provided so that the print shop can cut them apart correctly after printing the slide on a sheet of paper. Printing multiple cards per sheet saves paper and money.

The usual QSL card is printed on index-card-weight, photo-quality paper with the front graphic on the glossy side. If you’re unfamiliar with the process of getting cards printed, take some samples to the print shop and ask the staff how best to prepare your artwork.

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You can make up cards with any colors and graphics you want. If you follow these guidelines, however, your cards will be easier for others to read and enjoy:

  • Include your call sign on the front and on the back. The backs of the sample cards is shown here.

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  • Be sure to include all your location information for award programs: city, state, county, and six-digit Maidenhead Grid Locator.

  • Contact information should include, at minimum, the other station’s call sign, the date and time, frequency, and mode. Most people like to include the signal report, too.

  • Don’t forget to list your complete mailing address, sufficient for someone in another country to send you a card in return.

  • If you expect to mail the cards as postcards, leave the right side of the print area blank for a stamp and address.

  • Leave some space to sign your name or give the operator’s name.

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