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Card Sorting – Software & Other Downloads

SynCaps V3 now free for academic use!

This page has the downloads you need you need to start printing and processing card sorts. If you plan to use web-based sorting (WebSort or OptimalSort), you should still download the templates package since it includes the necessary user guides and sample data files. Note that the SynCapsV3 download includes the templates package, so you do not need to download both.

For our free software, SynCapsV1, download both the templates package and the software.

On this page:

We also have videos and webinar recordings available for downloaded to be viewed in place. See card sorting videos.

Templates, User Guides & Sample Data

We provide mail merge templates for Microsoft Word running on Windows (unfortunately the bar codes do not work on the Macintosh versions of Word). The templates include versions for 4 cards to a page or 14 self-adhesive labels to a page, in both A4 and US Letter page sizes (plus a few other formats - contact us if you don't see what you need).

To download the files, right-click the link and select "Save target as..." (or similar for browsers other than Internet Explorer).

Combined Download (A4 and US Letter Paper Sizes)

  • User guides (all versions of SynCaps - paper and online sorting)
  • Participant cards - numbered (just print as many as you need)
  • Group cards for closed card sorts (fixed groups - includes a mail
    merge master and data file for group names)
  • Item cards - includes a mail merge master and data file for item
    names, descriptions and alternatives.
  • Sub-group cards - used to split groups (SynCaps V3).
  • Nested group cards (for SynCapsV3)
  • Template and master for affinity diagramming
  • Versions for perforated cards and self-adhesive labels
  • Sample data files

Right-click to download templates, instructions and sample data in a zip file
(, last modified 07-Jul-2016, size 23M)

Note that for open card sorts, we suggest you just use blank group cards. Participants will be instructed to write the group names on the blank cards. Type these in as you are doing the data capture. For group cards, just type 'G' (case is not important) followed immediately by the name. For example 'GFruit & Veg' (omitting the quote marks).

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Email News/Discussion List

Click here to join our card sorting news/discussion list. This will allow you to be notified of updates or special offers and provides a useful way to engage with other SynCaps users.


Our cluster analysis software is called SynCaps (Syntagm Computer-Aided Paper Sorting). There are three major versions:

  • SynCaps V1 - dendrogram chart and spreadsheet files (free).
  • SynCaps V2 - dendrogram chart, spreadsheet files, pairs map and items x group chart; ability to merge, rename or ignore items and groups. Now superseded by V3.
  • SynCaps V3 - New Microsoft Office ribbon interface, full install/uninstall, adds nested groups, participant analysis, participant filtering and cluster analysis scripts for SPSS. It is a free upgrade for SynCaps V2 users.

All versions produce participant, item, card, and matrix spreadsheet (.csv) files for further analysis, making SynCaps the most comprehensive analysis tool available. (Note that Microsoft Excel or similar is needed for the analysis and charting of exported files.)

A comparison chart of features, with examples, is available by clicking here.

SynCaps V1 Cluster Analysis Software

This software works on most versions of Windows and is available as a free download. It processes the the data file produced from bar code scanning (or from online sorting sites), produces a dendrogram and output files suitable for further analysis by Excel or similar packages (see the comparison table for examples).

You can import online card sorts from Websort and OptimalSort. See our online sorting page for more details.

SynCaps V1 does not include an installation process. Just save it to a location of your choice and run it.

SynCaps V1 Download

Right-click to download SynCaps V1.6.1 for Windows
(syncapsv1.exe, last modified 23-Oct-2015, size 1.8M)

IMPORTANT: While the program itself has not changed, this executable is signed with a stronger encryption algorithm since Microsoft is deprecating SHA1 from January 2016. If you get messages from Windows about the application not being trusted, download and use this release instead.

Don't forget that you will also need the Templates, User Guides & Sample Data download download (above).

SynCaps V1 is free, contains no advertising and is a security-signed executable. It runs on most versions of Windows, from XP onwards.

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SynCaps V2 Cluster Analysis Software

SynCaps V2 included all of the functionality of V1. It added important new time-saving features and provided additional visualizations of sort results. See the comparison table for examples.

It has been superseded by SynCaps V3. Current users of V2 can upgrade for free, just contact us with details of your original purchase.

SynCaps V3 Cluster Analysis Software

SynCaps V3 is the world's most comprehensive card sorting analysis package - see the comparison table for details. It includes a variety of valuble features not available elsewhere:

  • Five customizable charts that can be easily incorporated into reports using copy and paste
  • Expert/reference sort comparisons (to show current IA compared to participant results, for example)
  • Extensive set of spreadsheet export files for additional analysis and charting
  • Nested groups - allows participants to build their own hierarchies of groups
  • Participant analysis and filtering, including participant cluster analysis to determine if separate communities are present
  • Generation of SPSS scripts for further analysis

All of the new features are described in detail in the release notes which are part of the free download below. You can also try SynCaps V3 free for 14 days. (If you'd prefer to read the release notes and card sorting guide without installing the software, download the templates package at the top of the page).

We've also produced three one-hour webinars on card sorting:

  • Part 1: Preparing Paper Sorts
  • Part 2: Basic Analysis (Paper and Online Sorts)
  • Part 3: Advanced Analysis (SynCapsV3)

Part 1 covers all versions of SynCaps. Part 2 includes details of nested groups (V3) and Part 3 covers participant analysis and filtering (V3). See our webinars, videos and slideshows page to view or download the recordings.

SynCaps V3 Download

Right-click to download SynCaps V3.4 for Windows Vista and later - including Windows 10
(syncapsv3-setup.exe, last modified 10-Mar-2018, size 29M)

Free for Academic Use: SynCaps now allows a user with an academic email address to obtain a license for free. Note that you must download and install V3.1 or later to do this. Version 3.0 does not support online licensing (see below).

Release Notes:

  • V3.4.2 fixes several important bugs:
    • Earlier versions allowed users to start from a .caps3 file, but if they attempted to create new participant filters, the program crashed. Because access is needed to some data structures not present in .caps3 files, SynCapsV3 will now ask if you want to reprocess the original data. Generally, it is best to do research from the original .txt files and use .caps3 files to share results with others.
    • Chart images copied to the clipboard were missing a few lines at the bottom. This is now fixed.
    • Print and print preview of charts more than one page deep now works correctly.

  • V3.4 introduces an Items x Groups spreadsheet (.csv) output file. This shows all items in dendrogram-order as rows and all groups as columns. The order of groups is the same as the Items x Groups chart for the default number of item clusters (the average across participants). Cell values are given as percentages.
  • V3.3.1 is a minor bug fix. Also, in the licensing dialog, the text now clearly states 'You have a valid license' instead of continuing the trial license countdown (once you have entered a valid license key). Note that after a valid license key has been entered, SynCapsV3 will attempt to connect to the licensing server each time it is run. It must succeed at least once every 3 days for continued use of the software.
  • V3.3 fixes two issues with security certificates. The WinHttp library that SynCapsV3 uses does not support modern security protocols (TLS1.1 & TLS1.2) in Windows 7 and earlier by default. Since current security best practice is to disable older protocols, this update allows SynCapsV3 to continue to communicate with the licensing server. If you get an "Unable to validate your license" error message, please uninstall the old version and install V3.3. This version is also signed with a stronger encryption algorithm (SHA256) since Microsoft is deprecating SHA1 from January 2016.
  • V3.2.1 is a bug fix for a problem that prevented a valid serial number being generated if a system had only wireless network interfaces. (The only known occurrence of this was on a Microsoft Surface Pro 3 without docking station.) V3.2.2 includes minor changes only.

  • V3.2 allowed you to edit data and view .caps3 files without buying a license. When SynCapsV3 is first installed it will run for 14 days in trial mode (with a 10-participant limit) but when the trial expires, only the analysis features (Import/Export and Filters) are disabled. V3.2 also ensures that when charts are copy and pasted into other applications, the chart backgrounds are solid white.

  • V3.1 introduced a new online licensing system that allows users to transfer SynCaps licenses between machines. You must upgrade to V3.1 in order to buy any new licences. An internet connection is required for license validation (see the note below if your network uses proxy servers). Please remove earlier installations of SynCaps V3 before installing this one using Control Panel->Programs and Features. SynCaps V3.1 requires Windows Vista or later.

Downloads: The installation includes all of the documents, templates and sample data files you need. There is nothing more to download. However, if you'd like further copies of these files, they are available separately at the top of the page.

To buy a SynCaps V3 license: Download and install the setup program (above) and click Buy/Transfer in the license dialog. Commercial users can choose whether to pay in EUR, GBP or USD (€240 / £200 / $320, respectively, plus VAT where applicable). Users with an academic email address can buy a single license for free - you will be taken through the checkout process but there will be nothing to pay and no need to enter credit card details.

Proxy Servers: SynCapsV3 uses a networking feature called WinHttp. If you receive an error message regarding license validation (usually the next time you run the program after entering a license number) it may be that your network relies on a proxy server redirection that has not been configured for WinHttp. See this Microsoft article on how to fix it. You will need to run Command Prompt as an administrator, but if you are able to install applications on your machine you already have that capability. Note that the article relates to an issue with Exchange Server 2010 but is otherwise relevant - just skip the first paragraph. Contact us if you need further assistance.

Macintosh Users: SynCaps will run on Windows Vista or later. To run it on a Mac, either install the free Boot Camp utility from Apple or the free VirtualBox virtualization package. Both require that you have a Windows boot CD. Boot Camp allows Intel-based Macs (most machines since 2006) to boot straight into Windows while VirtualBox provides a desktop virtualization service that runs within OS X (however, it also requires the Mac to be Intel-based).

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Keywords: card sorting, information architecture, menu design, screen design, cluster analysis, caps, syncaps

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