Card Reader: How to Scan Business Cards into a Spreadsheet

Update: This post has been refreshed & updated for 2019. Read the revamped post here → How to Scan Business Cards into a Spreadsheet [2019 Edition]


If all MacGyver had was a stack of business cards and a smart phone, he’d use this solution to escape data entry hell. It seems that Excel spreadsheets are the Swiss Army knife, the lowest common denominator in most companies. Here is a solution that allows you to snap a photo of a business card in Card Reader and have the data entered into a spreadsheet for you. That’s right, you can scan business cards into a spreadsheet and take that data to Excel or export it as a csv!

Recently we announced our integration of FullContact Card Reader with Zapier. We decided to share a few Zap ideas that can be done with this integration. We get asked a lot, “how can I scan my business cards into an Excel spreadsheet?” This solution scans the business cards into a Google Drive spreadsheet, but once you have the data there it’s trivial to export the data to Excel or a csv file.

The premise of this is pretty simple. Using FullContact Card Reader the user snaps a photo of a business card. The card is transcribed and then added to a Google Docs spreadsheet automagically. You can then export the data from Google Docs and get your business cards into Excel by importing the file to Excel.

Get the Zap: Scan Business Cards into a Spreadsheet

You can learn more and add this Zap template to your Zapier account by following the link to scan business cards into a spreadsheet. Note that you will need to create your own spreadsheet and update the mappings maintained in Step 5 below.

A sample spreadsheet is also available for your use. This sample is a globally shared document, so please create a private copy of the spreadsheet for your own use.

For detailed instructions on how to set things up, please read on.

Create a Spreadsheet on Google Drive

Before we setup the Zap in Zapier, we will first create a new Google Doc spreadsheet which will be used for capturing of transcribed business card data. If you don’t already have a Google Drive account create one, then login to Google Drive and create a new spreadsheet. Give it a name, in my example it’s “Business Cards”.

It’s important that the spreadsheet have two rows filled out, row 1 should contain header names for the columns and row 2 should contain something that depicts a divider, I used a series of dashes. A more formal explanations of the do’s and don’ts for this spreadsheet is available, but if you make it look similar to my example below you are good to go.

Scan Business Cards into a Google Docs Spreadsheet

Again, take a look at this sample spreadsheet that is available for your use. This sample is a globally shared document, so please create a private copy of the spreadsheet for your own use.

Setting up the Zap

Now to setup the Zap, you will need FullContact Card Reader and a free Zapier account. First, login to Zapier and create a new Zap. The trigger, “when this happens…”, will be FullContact Card Reader. And the action, “…do this”, will be Google Docs. “Create Spreadsheet Row” will be the action for Google Docs that you will select.

Zapier zap to Add Business Card to Excel Spreadsheet

In steps 2 and 3 of creating this Zap you will authenticate your FullContact and Google Docs (now Google Drive) accounts. In Step 4 you should add a single filter that ensures that “vCardUrl” exists. What this does is ensure that if an image of a card is sent that is blurry or otherwise not readable, an error is not sent to you from Zapier.

In step 5 of creating the Zap you need to select the spreadsheet that you just created, as well as the worksheet. You then need to map the Card Reader data to your spreadsheet column headers using the “Insert Fields” button.

Mapping Business Card Data into a Google Docs Spreadsheet

Once your mapping is complete you can test your Zap in step 6. If it returns success, now look in your spreadsheet and you should see row 3 with data in it. This is data from a test business card. You have now successfully created your Zap, now give it a name and turn the Zap on and you are all set!

What your Business Card Data looks like in a Spreadsheet

Enabling the Spreadsheet Zap in Card Reader

You can now go to your device and open Card Reader. Go to settings and select integrations and then select Zapier. When the screen loads you should see the new spreadsheet Zap that you just created! If you do not see it, ensure that the Zap is enabled in Zapier. You can do a pull refresh on iOS devices or tap the refresh button on Android to reload the Zaps to your device.

And there you have it. Now you can scan business cards into a spreadsheet. If needed, you can now export that spreadsheet to Microsoft Excel or to a csv file for data portability. Enjoy!