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My newest character is a lvl 1 Bard with some spellcasting and ritual ability. I would like to know how to prepare spells, as it does not say how to do this in the PHB.

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Bards don't prepare spells in D&D 5th edition.

The Players Handbook, chapter 10: Spellcasting, mentions that Bards learn spells and can cast them spontaneously. The section "Known and Prepared Spells" says the following:

Before a spellcaster can use a spell, he or she must have the spell firmly fixed in mind, or must have access to the spell in a magic item. Members of a few classes, including bards and sorcerers, have a limited list of spells they know that are always fixed in mind.

Instead of preparing spells, Bards simply have spells known, and they can expend spell slots to cast one of their known spells. When creating a 1st level Bard, check the PHB for the Bard's spellcasting feature, under the subsection "Spells Known of 1st Level and Higher":

You know four 1st-level spells of your choice from the bard spell list.

The Spells Known column of the Bard table shows when you learn more bard spells of your choice. Each of these spells must be of a level for which you have spell slots, as shown on the table. For instance, when you reach 3rd level in this class, you can learn one new spell of 1st or 2nd level.

Additionally, Bards learn a new spell (and can swap out an old spell) whenever they gain another level in the Bard class. You can read the full text of their Spellcasting feature on D&DBeyond.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ For what it’s worth, Wizards of the Coast D&D has never had a bard that prepared spells. (TSR did, in 2e, but then there was no such thing as spellcasting without preparation in those days.) \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Aug 29, 2021 at 3:02
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To further clarify MikeQ's answer, consider that a Bard has what is essentially the list of spells they can cast at any given moment. You can choose 4 spells at level 1 to have on your list that Bards are able to cast, but you cannot change them until you level up.

You know four 1st-level spells of your choice from the bard spell list.

The Spells Known column of the Bard table shows when you learn more bard spells of your choice. (PHB, p. 53)

When you level up, you can add an additional spell to that list, and you can select a spell already on that list and swap it with another. This is really the only time you are able to change the spells you can cast as a Bard.

Additionally, when you gain a level in this class, you can choose one of the bard spells you know and replace it with another spell from the bard spell list (PHB, p. 53)

Do keep in mind that spell slots are how many times you can actually cast levelled spells per long rest, so you essentially only get to cast 2 spells per day at level 1.

You regain all expended spell slots when you finish a long rest. (PHB, p. 53)

You do get an infinite number of cantrip casts though, so be sure to choose ones that you think might come in handy most.

A cantrip is a spell that can be cast at will, without using a spell slot and without being prepared in advance. Repeated practice has fixed the spell in the caster’s mind and infused the caster with the magic needed to produce the effect over and over. (PHB, p. 201)

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    \$\begingroup\$ This is a nice addition, can you add citations from the rules to back it up? \$\endgroup\$
    – NautArch
    Apr 28, 2019 at 12:49
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The Bard, along with the Sorcerer and the Warlock, do not prepare spells. Instead, they can cast any spell that they know from the Bard spell list.

As a 1st-level Bard, you know four 1st-level spells, and have two 1st-level slots (PHB p.53). Think of your 1st-level slots as "number of casts" of the spells that you know - you can cast any 1st-level spell you know two times before taking a long rest.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ FYI, Ranger is also in this list. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 29, 2019 at 14:21

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