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Anki tip: Use models (other than basic)

It seems that the majority of Anki users never get beyond using the basic model that decks are set up with by default. This is a shame, because models are not only a huge time saver, but also make Anki more effective at helping you to remember things. Read the article on understanding Anki’s structure if you really want to get to grips with this. It’ll take a while, but it’s worth it in the end.

The basic idea of models is that they let you put information into Anki __in a way that makes sense for that information. You can keep the original structure of the information and let Anki deal with it appropriately. The basic model has just two fields, forcing you to structure the information you want to learn into ‘questions’ and ‘answers’.

You can actually customise models in Anki to allow information to be filled in as, for example, ‘Chinese’, ‘pinyin’, ‘English’, ‘part of speech’. This is powerful because you can then set up cards that test only ‘Chinese’ -> ‘pinyin’, ‘Chinese’ -> ‘English’, ‘Chinese’ -> ‘part of speech’ etc.

Separating different aspects of the information like this is an important principle in SRS learning. It also lets you type in each set of information just once, and have Anki organise all the cards for it. Finally, if you need to edit some information in your deck, having it arranged it models lets you edit it in one place and see the changes everywhere that they need to be.

Templates

Once you’ve set up a deck with a model that fit the information you’re studying, you use templates to arrange that information into useful cards. Anyone with experience of programming will grasp this very quickly, but it’s not too hard for anyone else either. With templates, you leave slots for information to go in by referencing the type of information that goes there, e.g. {{Chinese}}.

So you might set up a template like this:

_Front:_ What is the definition of *{{Chinese}}*?

Back:

The definition of {{Chinese}} is {{English}}.

It’s pronounced {{pinyin}}.

Now you should be able to see how much easier this makes things. You can easily add other templates for testing other parts of the information, and if you need to change them you just edit one thing. Similarly, if you change the information the template is drawing from, all of your cards will be updated at once.

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