Preparing Notes for Basic Cards

Why Ankify

I’ve tried many many other programs that also make flashcards. What I really wanted was something that could do all of the following:

  • Doesn’t make me move my notes into their program or website. I want my notes to stay on my own computer as files that I could move around or make changes.
  • Has an user interface, not a script to run
  • Can make several cards from several notes
  • Each time I rerun the conversion, existing cards are updated instead of making new ones
  • Lets me make cards easily. This is the most important for me. Most scripts/programs I tried I have to change the format of my notes to make a card. I just want to point at a word, sentence, paragraph, or picture in my note and say “I want to make this into a card. What’s the quickest and easiest way to do that.”

Ankify is made with those goals in mind.

Basic Cards

See example markdown files that you can use.

By default, basic front and back cards are added by using <!-- --> that contains the front of the card, with everything following becoming the back. The following 2 paragraphs would be converted to two different cards:

You can use anything as the left and right enclosure, as long as the left and right are different. Make sure you are consistent with all your cards. For example, this is what it looks like if you use {{ }} instead:

The reason why I personally use <!-- --> is because this is the syntax for comments. When I upload the files online, the front of the card is not rendered, so that only the backside are shown. This is better for readability.

I use a text expander espanso to make it easier for me to type <!-- -->. I have it set to trigger when I type two commas (,,). There are several other text expanders for both Mac and Windows that you can find here. I had good experience with aText on Mac, but it is also a paid program.

Unique ID

When you convert using Ankify, an unique ID will be added to the end of the front of the card:

Each time you re-import the notes, Anki will update the exising card using this unique ID instead of importing a new one.

Since Ankify will make changes to your actual notes to add this unique ID to each card, please make sure you back up your files before you use the program.

Notice how all of the additions are only done to the front of the card and not the actual note itself. This allows you to delete the questions down the road with minimum changes to your actual notes.

This is what the above card looks like once imported into Anki:

basic import

Ignore Cards

Use “ignore” as the front to ignore a section of the document. Ignore cards will be filtered out in the conversion process.

I find “ignore” cards to be helpful in incremental reading. I usually make cards up to a certain point and the make a “ignore” card to mark my progress. Then once I study those cards, I would go back and add more cards to the rest of the document.