Tag Archives: flashcards

How To Add The Same Image To Every Card

In some cases you might want to add the same image to every card you’re creating for a note type. For example, you could want your logo on each card. Or you might need the same image as reference in your whole deck. Obviously, you could manually add that same image to every note you create. But when you’re doing the same thing over and over, I can’t help but feel there should be an easier way. And there is!

Why You’d Want Identical Images

First, let’s take an example from my own experience. I was working with a deck to learn all the states in the USA. I had created a note type with the following fields:

  • StateName: the name of the state
  • StateMap: an image with a map of the USA, and the state in colour
  • CapitalName: the name of the capital city of that state

Based on these fields I told Anki to create the following cards. (notice the repetition in my repetition?)

  • What is the capital city of {{Name}}
  • What is the state name of which {{Capital}} the capital of
  • What is the name of this state {{Map}}
  • What is the capital of this state {{Map}}

But I also want to have a map of the USA, and ask myself where {{Name}} was. I had a perfect image for just this purpose, but if I wanted to use it in all my notes I would have to manually add it  to each single note. That’s 50 notes. Yeahno.

The Media Folder

To add images to you collection that can be used in every note, you’ll first need to find your Media Folder.

On Windows, the latest Anki versions store your Anki files in your appdata folder. You can access it by opening the file manager, and typing%APPDATA%\Anki2 in the location field. Older versions of Anki stored your Anki files in a folder called Anki in your Documents folder. Anki Manual

Please be careful with your media folder. Close Anki before you open the media folder. I recommend making a backup of your collection before you start messing around, just in case you corrupt it. The folder will be called ‘collection.media’, so go ahead and click on it.

If you want to use your image in a template you’ll need to rename it so it starts with an underscore. For example: _emptyMap.png. Place the image in the media folder and close it. You can now open Anki again.

Using The Image In Anki

Finally, your image is now ready to be used in your card templates. If you want to place the image in your template, use basic HTML:  <<img src=”._filename.png”> For example, I added the empty map to the card template for my USA States deck.

Anki: Have Some Repetition With Your Repetition

Learning is context-sensitive, even if you use repetition. This means that if you try to remember a fact in a different context than the one you memorised it in, recall can be difficult. For example, I always remembered the names of the famous sex researchers William Masters and Virginia Johnson as “Masters and Johnson”. One day a person asked me “what was the name of the woman in that famous sex researcher couple?” and I could not come up with her name! I had to mentally recall an image of the two of them first. Then I needed to have “Masters and Johnson” pop up in my head. And finally I could answer “Johnson….. Virginia Johnson!”. Painful.

Repetition With Your Repetition

Anki is a spaced-repetition program. This means it will provide you with facts you want to memorise at specific intervals to make memorisation possible. However, Anki will not provide you with different contexts unless you program these yourself. Obviously, you’ll probably do some of your reviews in different settings (at home, in the train, at your local coffee place). But if you only have one card for the fact you want to remember, you’ll memorise it only in the format of your card.

The answer to this problem is to make various cards for one bit of information.

An example. I needed to remember that the occipital lobe is involved in visual perception. So I created multiple cards, some with cloze deletions, some with pictures, some with information about other areas of the brain, to create as many connections and contexts as possible.


7 Common Flashcard Mistakes to Avoid

Flashcards are amazing at decreasing your study time or increasing the amount of information you can memorise. But if you’re not careful, you might end up making flashcards that are ineffective and useless. Bad flashcards eat up your time and create frustration, the last things you need when you’re studying for a test! So learn from our experience and avoid these 7 common mistakes.


1. Using Flashcards As Teeny Tiny Notes

Ever notice how most flashcards you see online are basically just really tiny study notes? I’ve never understood why people do this. The whole reason we want to use flashcards is because reading summaries is such an ineffective way of studying! Because nothing good comes from scribbling your notes in your tiniest handwriting on small pieces of paper.

Primarily, your flashcard should do one thing: ask a unequivocal question that has a clear, correct answer.

I think the reason many people try to cram all of the relevant information onto the flashcard is because they want to know that information is ‘somewhere’. But simply writing the information down or re-reading it does nothing for your recall. So if having pretty study notes soothes you, feel free to make all the teeny tiny notes you want. Just don’t tell yourself you’re studying.


2. Making the Questions Too Small

When you’re studying a certain topic and making flashcards, many of your cards will make sense to you. For example, when I started learning French, I made flashcards that asked for the gender of a certain word.

Q: Maison
A: Female (La maison)

This was a great way of memorising the gender of some of the most common words in French. All was well and I answered correctly during reviews, so before long these cards were scheduled for months later. And that’s when the trouble began.

Q: Maison
(Me: “House. Hmm, what a bad flashcard, left out the article when I made it. I should fix that”)
A: Female (La maison)
(Me: “Crap!”)

Take the time to actually write out your question, so you’ll know what’s being asked even if you see this card years from now. It’s important that you’ll understand the question even when it’s out of context, because you’ll probably end up combining most of your decks and mixing up your topics.

For my own card, I first changed it to this:

Q: In French, words have a gender. What is the correct article for ‘Maison’?
A: La

But then I realised I’ll never actually need that specific piece of information. Instead, I want to give the correct article in relevant contexts, so I scrapped the card and added these instead:

Q: Le chat est dans {{the}} maison
A: La

Q: J’aime {{that}} maison
A: Cette

Q: {{My}} maison est verte
A: Ma


3. Making the Answers Too Long

A good flashcards needs a simple and clear answer. You need to be able to judge if your answer was correct, and it should be either “yup, correct” or “nope, incorrect”. There should be no maybes.

Of course, there are a lot of situations in which you need to test your understanding of a more complex topic. You cannot always avoid longer answers. I’ve found using cloze deletions can really help tackle those more complex flashcards.

Let’s take an example of my own studies.

It might be tempting to create flashcards like “what happens in the sexual development of people with androgen insensitivity syndrome”, but obviously this card would ask for a question that is too complex.

Instead, I made about twenty cards. For example:

Q: What gonads do people with AIS develop?
A: Testes

Q: Because people with AIS have testes, their Sertoli cells and Leydig cells produce MIS and testosterone. However, people with AIS are insensitive to which substance?
A: Testosterone

Q: Why do the Mullerian ducts of people with AIS degenerate?
A: Because their Sertoli cells produce MIS (and they are not insensitive to that)

I also used image occlusion to cloze delete parts of my own study notes.

Making good flashcards takes time. It takes effort. Once you’ve made a good flashcard, the majority of your work is done, really. Reviews are just the icing on your flashcard-cake.


4. Using the Front-Side as Study Notes

There might be some information you don’t believe is important enough for a flashcard, but that you still kind of want to remember. But not really. But maybe a bit. It might be on the test. You would not be the first to try and cheat the system by putting information on the front-side of your flashcard, hoping that the repetition of re-reading it will help you remember.

I’ve seen flashcards like “Dude Whatshisname, who was involved in the study I think is boring but I might be quizzed on it, was the inventor of what software?”.

You should not do this, because it makes reviews so much harder and longer. You end up only half-reading your own questions because you know they’re full of irrelevant stuff.

Re-reading does not work.

Repeat this to yourself: re-reading does not work.

So make up your mind, do you want to remember this fact? If you do, then turn it into a flashcard. If you don’t, that’s fine. Just don’t clutter up your flashcards with those study notes you don’t really want to learn.


5. Using Correct/Incorrect Questions

Many tests consist of statements that you need to determine are correct or incorrect. These types of questions are an acceptable way of testing the knowledge of students, but they are a terrible way to study.

The problem is that you remember the fact, and then you remember whether it’s true or not separately. The flashcard “Q: Le maison. Correct or incorrect” is terrible because it repeats “le maison” in your head, causing you to remember “le maison” when it really should be “la maison”.


6. Not Asking for What You Want

Another thing to watch out for is making sure you’re actually telling yourself what answer you want. Say your flashcard asks “What is the mean height in the Netherlands?” and your answer is “1.81 for men, 1.69 for women”. This is a bad flashcard, because you’re asking two questions: the mean height for men, and for women. On top of that, you’ve now burdened yourself with another thing to memorise: the fact that your mean height card needs two answers. If you forget one of these three bits of information, you’ll answer incorrectly! So you’re setting yourself up to fail.

Make sure you don’t have to memorise anything about how your flashcard works. Instead, allow yourself to put your effort into remembering the important facts.


7. Not Using Your Senses

There’s nothing more boring than a long, monotunous procession of identical looking flashcards. Because memory is about linking new information to existing ones, make full use of any ‘hooks’ you can find to attach your new info to. Use mnemonics, use humor, use images, use your senses.  Bring the information to life and you’ll see how easy it becomes to remember. Don’t be afraid to go crazy, because your brain remembers weird things better than anything else.

Go on and create some kick-ass Anki cards!