I understand that SRS programs like Anki is for review what you learn, not to learn the card completely new. However, for learners who require to learn a lot of new words (to pass a test for example), having them showing on each day to learn is extremely convenience.

To fully optimized the learning curve, each card needs to be personalized. However, actually personalizing 1000 words consumes a lot of time and energy. I think that there are type of information that don't need your customization, so I can save time by using pre-made information, like a shared deck or getting data from a source by scripting.

Which type of information that serve better when they are personalized, and which don't? How to personalize a vocabulary flashcard deck without spending too much time on it?

  • At first I was thinking about the field, but field is a technical term only in Anki. I guess I should say a bit of information? Personalizing it serves me better in efficiency in learning
    – Ooker
    Commented Jul 5, 2016 at 2:52
  • 1
    I have "personalized" everything in my anki decks, down to the CSS and JavaScript controlling display, how many cards are created from each note, and under what circumstances, etc. I've even hacked on Anki itself, and submitted patches upstream, since its open-source. So there is practically no limit to what aspects of Anki can be "personalized". Which is makes me wonder what you're driving at here.
    – Flimzy
    Commented Jul 5, 2016 at 7:59
  • @Flimzy is the edit better? (I bet you will ask: better in which way? 😛)
    – Ooker
    Commented Jul 5, 2016 at 18:02
  • It is an improvement.
    – Flimzy
    Commented Jul 5, 2016 at 18:03
  • @Flimzy you still not satisfy with it? How should I make it better?
    – Ooker
    Commented Jul 5, 2016 at 18:06

3 Answers 3


Ask yourself: does this part help me recognize the word, or help me use the word?

If the part helps you to recognize the word, like the definition, the pronunciation, the synonyms, then they are fixed. Regardless to how you use it, they are fixed. Therefore you can use these data premade for these parts to help you quickly generate a deck.

If the part helps you know how to use the word, like the picture, the examples, then it is better to be personalized. The most important thing when learning vocabulary is know how to use it in your specific situation. Because different people have different situations, so a premade example may not serve best when it doesn't reflect your own situation.


Most of the time of learning cards with Anki isn't in about creating new cards but about repeated cards because you forgot what the card means.

Most attempts of saving time in card creation result in wasting time repeating cards because you didn't learn before memorize or because the card quality isn't optimal.


Every space repetition learner should read: Effective learning: Twenty rules of formulating knowledge on the SuperMemo site. Very relevant topic:

2. Learn before you memorize

Nobody says that you should learn words in SRS. Usually you learn them outside of SRS (from textbook, dictionary, Wikipedia). Of course inside SRS you memorize them and it is a purpose of SRS.

1. Do not learn if you do not understand

Usually for reviewing you shouldn't need very detailed cards. On other hand for learning you should have very detailed text. Can you join both together?


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