FAQ: Collection authoring with SuperMemo

Overview articles: 

Related FAQs:

Questions:


You can change the position of the question window
Question:
How can I change the position of the question field on the screen?
Answer:
Alt-click the question twice. It will become draggable. Alternatively, you can choose Dragging mode on the question component menu or on the element menu (in the latter case, all components will become draggable). If you want to change this position globally (i.e. in all elements in your collection), you should use templates. See: Using templates


There is an important difference between items and topics
(Jim Ivy, USA, June 4, 1997)
Question:
What is the difference between a topic and an item?
Answer:
Topics are used to present knowledge or learn by reading (e.g. articles in the incremental reading process). Items are used to test knowledge by means of repetitions (very often they have the question-and-answer structure). See also: Topics vs. items


You can quickly change items into topics
(Piotr Wysocki, Poland, May 14, 1997)
Question:
How can I change an item to a topic and vice versa without using branch operations in the contents window?
Answer:
Press Ctrl+Shift+P and select the type in Element type
(on Item/Topic tab). See also: Topics vs. items


You can center texts in text components
(Jake White, USA, May 14, 1997)
Question:
I learn Romanian vocabulary. How can I center the word in the question component?
Answer:

  • if you are using rich text component: click the text and click the center alignment on the Format toolbar
  • if you are using plain text components: check Text : Alignment : Center on the question component menu (available with right-click)

Knowledge tree is like a family tree
(John Gibney, Australia, Sep 1, 1998)
Question:
What is the difference between children and descendants in the knowledge tree?
Answer:
Children of a given element are those elements that are shown when you click the plus sign to the left of the element. They are all connected with the parent element and are shifted one level to the right. The descendants of a given element are all children of all children of all children, etc. If you take an analogy with a family, the descendants of an individual include children, grand children, grand grand children and so on. For more see: Creating the knowledge tree


You can underline important words
(David K. Harris, Peking University, Oct 23, 1998)
Question:
I would like to underline important words in my elements, but have not yet figured out how to change the font of individual words within components
Answer:
You should use RTF or HTML components instead of plain text components. In an RTF or HTML component, select the text to underline and click the underline icon on the Format toolbar (or Ctrl+U). If you want all your elements to use HTML or RTF components instead of plain text components, save your new components as a default template for your currently used category. Read more: Using templates


You can import text files as questions and answers
(Jeremy Sherman, USA, Oct 12, 1998)
Question:
I am using Filemaker Plus to create a more comprehensive database for quotes, my ideas, etc. of which only a select number of items are the kind I would want to commit to memory. I have not found any reference in the help menu to ways to import a number of elements and test items directly into SuperMemo. Can you suggest a format for importation? I do see the section on Import Q&A but I don't see how to format the fields
Answer:
For File : Import : Q&A text, it is enough you create a text file in the following format:

q: <text of the question>
a: <text of the answer>

q: <text of the question>
a: <text of the answer>, etc. etc.

For example:

q: What is the name of the Polish king dynasty that ended with Casimir III?
a: Piast dynasty

q: Which Polish king dynasty did Casimir the Great belong to?
a: Piast dynasty, etc. etc.


You can add chemical formulas to SuperMemo
(Charles Maggio, USA, July 7, 1997)

Question:
I use ChemDraw to create structured formulas of organic substances. How can I paste them to an image component?
Answer:
You can copy your ChemDraw formulas to the clipboard in the picture format and just paste them to your elements (e.g. with Ctrl+V). You can also try to use OLE components to keep your formulas in SuperMemo. This way, you will be able to modify the formulas with ChemDraw from within SuperMemo.
Use image components (the first method) if you do not need to modify the formulas (simplicity, disk space, etc.). Use OLE components, if you constantly need to rework your formulas


You can add mathematical formulas
(Gabor Schmera, USA, Dec 13, 1997)
Question:
I would like to add mathematical formulas to my items. What is the best way? I have equations ready with MS Word 97.
Answer:
Use OLE component to display files generated with other applications (if they support OLE 2.0)


You can quickly duplicate elements
(Ryszard Kosowicz, Krakow, Poland, May 16, 1997)
Question:
How can I quickly copy the text of an item to another item without using clipboard twice (for question and for answer)?
Answer:
Use Edit : Duplicate on the element menu (or press Ctrl+Alt+D on the copied element)


You can copy components via the ClipBox
(Doug Edmunds, USA, Nov 4, 1997)
Question:
How do I paste the contents of a Component ClipBox on a new element?
Answer:
Drag it onto an empty area in the element window


Creating a hyperlink is simple
(David Mckenzie, New Zealand, Apr 8, 1998)
Question:
How to make a hyperlink?
Answer:

Choose Links : Hyperlink on the component menu and click the element that is to be hyperlinked in the contents window


Keep only one collection!
(David Mckenzie, New Zealand, Apr 8, 1998)
Question:
Is there any point in keeping collections separate?
Answer:

No. Once you master contents categories and templates, there is no point. You gain global search, global registries, global repetitions, global optimization, etc. This would not be advisable back in SuperMemo 7 as item difficulty measure (E-factor) was dependent on the average difficulty of items in the collection. Presently, the item difficulty measure (A-Factor, or absolute difficulty factor) is absolute and does not depend on the context in which an item is placed (see: SuperMemo Algorithm). Only the length of the first interval will significantly be affected by the average difficulty of items in the collection. However, this shall not bear dramatically on the speed of learning. Especially that variable forgetting index for individual items makes it possible to set different first intervals for whole contents categories or branches of the knowledge tree


If you have many collections, you can merge them in one
(Peter Rasmussen, Denmark, May 20, 1999)
Question:
I created a couple of collections and would like to put them all into one. How can I do it?
Answer:
In each collection choose File : Merge collection. Always select the same collection as the target of the transfer. Please note that unregistered objects do not get transferred (e.g. script images, global background image, global default font, etc.). You will have to set those manually and resolve possible conflicts (e.g. you can use only one global background image but you can set images individually for all elements if necessary)


To use a category template you need to select the category
(Vidar Garlie, Norway, Mar 18, 1999)
Question:
When I go to the contents window, select a category branch and click Alt+A, the template of this category is not used! Can you help?
Answer:
To use a category template, you have to first choose the category in the category combo box on the Tools toolbar. Selecting branches in the contents window does not affect the current category selection


After choosing a category, last added element is displayed
(Marcin Piekarniak, Poland, Dec 2, 1997)
Question:
Why after choosing a contents category the last item in the category is displayed; not first?
Answer:
When you add new items you want to know which one was added last. You can easily navigate to the root by using the parent button on the element toolbar (or press Ctrl+Up)


Components are displayed in the same order they were added to an element
(Volker Goretzki, Germany, Feb 22, 1998)
Question:
Which rules does the overlapping of components follow?
Answer:

Components are displayed in the order in which they were added to the element. To change this order use Components : Component order (Ctrl+Shift+O) on the element menu


You can delete all occurrences of 'zzzz'
(Volker Goretzki, Germany, May 6, 1997)
Question:
I would like to remove all occurrences of a string 'zzzz' from a collection. What is the simplest way?
Answer:

  1. Choose Search : Texts,
  2. choose Search and replace : Find and replace on the menu, e.g. by pressing Ctrl+R,
  3. type in 'zzzz' in Find what field,
  4. leave Replace with empty,
  5. choose Replace All


Secondary storage is used to tell SuperMemo where your CD-ROM is
(Artur Osadowski, Poland, Sep 5, 1998)
Question:
Does the setting of Access mode in Tools : Options : Access affect the accessibility of sounds on CD-ROM?
Answer:
No. To make sure SuperMemo correctly reads sounds from CD-ROM, you only have to provide the correct path in Tools : Options : Access : Secondary storage


You can add new phonetic transcription entries
(Dusko Ivanisevic, New Zealand, Oct 1, 1998)
Question:
How can I add phonetic transcription to some words?
Answer:
Press Ctrl+Alt+Q and type in the word and its transcription. If the transcription dialog does not appear, you have not chosen phonetic transcription in Options. In such a case do the following:

  1. Choose Tools : Options : Language : Phonetic transcription
  2. Select ready-made transcription file or type in a name for new phonetic transcription registry (in the latter case, you will be building phonetic transcription registry from scratch)
  3. If necessary, choose Font on the left to select phonetic transcription font (e.g. IPA font available from Advanced English)
  4. Once a given word appears on the screen, press Alt+Y to transliterate all texts (or use on-mouse-move transliteration)

Note that SuperMemo Library includes IPA phonetic transcription of English (including the IPA font) with 72,000 transcriptions


You can see the number of the current element
(Doug Edmunds, USA, Nov 4, 1997)
Question:
What is the fastest way of checking the number of the currently displayed element?
Answer:
press Ctrl+G (or look at the caption of the element data window)


In question-and-answer import you need to use plain text files
(C. Martin, Germany, May 23, 2001)

Question:
I create an RTF file with multiple choice text items. When I import this with File : Import : Q&A text nothing gets imported
Answer:
You need to use a plain text file format (i.e. not an RTF or HTML file). For example, save your file via a NotePad rather than via MS Word


Rich text components do not store fonts
(Christoph Lichtenberger, Germany, Tue, Apr 24, 2001 0:18)

Question:
It seems that applying or even imposing a template never changes the fonts of an element's text fields
Answer:
This is true for rich text or HTML text templates. These texts have the font encoded in the text file. If you want to impose a font on your elements, use a template in which plain text components are used instead (e.g. Classic template). Plain text components keep a fixed font association. The font you use in the template will then be visible in your elements


You can turn off component focus switching on mouse move
(Adam, Australia, Tue, May 01, 2001 3:06)
Question:
My Sound component kept disappearing under the question field. I had to move the latter to be able to relocate the former. When I tried to remove the Sound component by using a menu, it kept losing focus and some other element was being selected for deletion
Answer:
You can turn off focus switching with the mouse by unchecking Activate edited components on mouse move in Tools : Options : Mouse


If Add New does not create needed components, you can redefine the template
(noam-at, Israel, Aug 04, 2001)
Question:
When I click Add New, I get a new item, but SuperMemo doesn't create two editing fields for the question and answer. Instead, I see the gray screen of SuperMemo without any fields
Answer:
Add New
uses the default template to create new items. If you delete all components (e.g. question and answer fields) from the default template, Add New will add new elements that look empty. If you want to restore your question and answer components, you need to redefine the template. If you are not very fluent with templates, locate an element in your collection that looks ok and choose Template : Save as template on the element menu. This will save the look of the selected element in the default template. Add New will then replicate this look


SuperMemo cannot decide when to reset the learning parameters of an element
(Eric Chen, Japan, Fri, Jun 22, 2001 3:06)
Question:
If I use Ctrl+Shift+S to swap components without making a duplicate, what would happen to the historical data of the element (assuming that I have done drills on that element for a while)? Does it get reset as well?
Answer:
No. If you decide to swap components, you should reset the learning process manually (e.g. with Ctrl+R or Ctrl+M). SuperMemo never attempts at guessing if you have done enough editing to justify relearning the element. Consequently, all learning decisions (e.g. Forget, Remember, Postpone, etc.) are up to you


You can change the font in a number of items at once
(Walter G. Mayfield, Jr., Friday, July 06, 2001 4:23 PM)
Question:
Is there a way to apply a font to large batches of items at once?
Answer:
This is possible in the following circumstances: 

  1. all the items must use the same template or be able to receive the same template (i.e. be "compatible" with a given template structure) 
  2. the components in question must be plain text components (i.e. not rich text components) 

In such cases you can: 

  1. Redefine the template used by these items (e.g. by simply changing the template font) 
  2. Re-apply a new template (with the desired font). For example, read about browser operations
  3. Redefine the font used the the currently applied template (e.g. with Edit Font on the component menu or by editing font in the font registry)

Copy collection can be used to take your learning material for a vacation
(Terje A. Tonsberg, Tue, Aug 28, 2001 20:10)
Question:
I have tried to copy my collection using File : Copy collection and File : Tools : Quick backup. In both cases I was unable to use the copied collection and got the following message when trying to open the collection: SuperMemo has just displayed the following error: "Cannot find optimization file E:\ABC (2001-08-04 06-07-07)\info\sm8opt.dat"
Answer:
You are using correct options. This error should not typically occur. Some of possible causes for such a message, all rather unlikely, could be:

  • lack of hard disk space 
  • hard disk integrity problems 
  • stability problems in Windows 
  • locked file permissions 
  • corrupt image of SuperMemo in memory, etc. 

Please see why you are opening default ABC collection instead of your own collection (e.g. German.kno). Restart your computer and try to copy to different locations or under different collection names. Try to run File : Repair collection on the collection you are trying to copy. If this problem persists, please try to provide as much details about this situation as possible. Note also that the said backup was made on Aug 4 (i.e. 24 days before sending your inquiry)


Use Apply Template in the browser to globally replace one template with another
(Nick Jones, Sep 02, 2001)
Question:
I created a temporary template with the map of Mesopotamia to apply it to all my items related to this subject. How can I now delete this template without affecting these items. I will not need the template in the future
Answer:
You would need to impose and detach this template in all items that use it. However, if you have a similar template that could be used instead (e.g. question + answer + picture template without the map), you could do the following: 

  • select the Mesopotamia template in the template registry 
  • choose Ctrl+B to open all elements using this template in the browser (only 500 references can be tracked this way)
  • use Template : Apply template on the browser menu 
  • choose the replacement template (e.g. Picture)
  • delete the Mesopotamia template in the template registry. For security, check if its user list is zero (Use=0 at the bottom of the template registry window)

You can add sound recorders to your elements
(Gabor Schmera, USA, Dec 13, 1997)
Question:
How do I add a recorder component to my items (as it is done in Advanced English)?
Answer:
Add a sound component and check Sound : Panel : Recorder on the component menu


You can use speech recognition software to build your collection
(Michael Doren, USA, Sep 7, 1998)

Question:
I am writing a collection for learning Windows NT 4.0 for my certification test. I am toying with the idea of using Dragon Naturally Speaking (a speech recognition program) to create my questions and answers in MS Word. Any suggestions on that?
Answer:
Probably the simplest approach is as follows:

1. Use the following text file format:

Q: <text of the first question>
A: <text of the first answer>

Q: <text of the second question>
A: <text of the second answer>, etc.

2. Replace Q: and A: with some easily spelled phrase that you would later replace globally. For example:

elephant Which tool can be used to manage security for domains?
giraffe User Manager for Domains

3. Convert the above text to:

Q: Which tool can be used to manage security for domains?
A: User Manager for Domains

4. Save the file in plain text format

5. Use File : Import : Q&A text in SuperMemo to import the text file to your collection


Scaling occlusion tests
(Mike Condron, USA, Jan 19, 2001)

Question:

In occlusion tests, when I resize the element window, the occlusion rectangle moves relative to the picture. How to prevent it?
Answer:
This will happen if there is a mismatch between resizing attributes of the picture and the element window. Do one of the following:

  1. Turn off Scaled on the element menu (to prevent resizing components), or
  2. Check Image : Stretch : Filled on the image component menu (to make sure the image resizes along all other components)

Categories are not visible in Contents
(Dustin J. D., USA Educational, Monday, May 06, 2002 2:27 AM)
Question:
I click an element in the contents window, hit Ctrl+K, have SuperMemo ask for the name for the category, and then have the category created, but not visible from the contents window
Answer:
You cannot see categories in the contents window (except by seeing individual branches grow when you add category elements). Once you create a category, you can inspect its parameters with Search : Categories. The contents window makes it only possible to view the structure of the knowledge tree. If you want to know where the category is rooted in the tree, click Root in the category registry. The basic role of categories is to simplify adding elements to separate branches of the tree. Categories are not supposed to give you more control over the tree. Just the opposite; categories delegate the job of building the tree to SuperMemo


Use "Import file" to import an EXE file to be run within SuperMemo
(Makoto Miyagishi, Japan, Wednesday, May 08, 2002 10:05 PM)
Question:
I want to use the program component to run an .EXE file. How can this be done?
Answer:
Follow these steps: 

  1. Create a program/binary components (click its button on the Compose toolbar and click two points in the element window to mark the top-left and the bottom-right corner) 
  2. Select Import file in the newly created component (right click over the program component button)
  3. Select the .EXE file to import

Now, each time you click the program component button, your EXE file will execute


Let the music play
(Piotr, Feb 06, 2002)
Question:
I imported some MP3 files with music to test my knowledge of my favorite bands. How can I keep the music play after I move on to next repetitions
Answer:
Music will be cut off as soon as you move on to your next repetition. However, you can go around this if you choose File : View file (or press F9) on the sound component. This will open your default MP3 player with your currently playing MP3 file. You can continue repetitions while the music stays on


You can disable scripts and players
(Mark P., Feb 06, 2002)
Question:
When I used Advanced English 97 with SuperMemo 2000 on a computer without a sound board, I was not able to get rid of those pestering message about the missing sound system. Is it solved in SuperMemo 2002 or later?
Answer:
You can use disable players on the Actions toolbar (the same button that was used in the past only to disable scripts)


OLE controls do not scale
(R.K., Feb 06, 2002)
Question:
Why do not OLE controls resize along the scaled element window?
Answer:
OLE servers may affect element window scrollbars. As scrollbars are the coordinate reference for scaled forms, OLE container never scales. This change will make it possible to use most compliant OLE servers with the Scaled attribute on


What is the meaning of ??? chars in phonetic transcription?
(S. Stankiewicz, Tuesday, March 26, 2002 8:31 AM)
Question:
I installed English Phonetic Transcription (including the font SuperMemo IPA). However, all I get is strings of question marks ????
Answer:
Question marks are displayed if there is no phonetic transcription of that given word in the phonetic transcription registry. Either your registry is empty or you are using the transcription on non-English texts. See Search : Other registries : Pronunciation by word to view the contents of the transcription registry. If the registry is empty, you might have typed a wrong name at Tools : Options : Language : Phonetic transcription. It is also possible you did not copy all registry files to their target location. In such cases, SuperMemo would recreate the registry files (the missing ones would become empty)


Use Esc in Contents to cancel Default Element
(Jiri Pik, Germany, Thu, May 02, 2002 17:06)
Question:
In Options : Access : Default Element, if I change the default "Last used" into a particular element, then I cannot change this back
Answer:
After using Default Element in Options, press Esc in the contents window instead of choosing Accept


You can replace one image with another
(Robert Drozd, Poland, Fri, May 24, 2002 21:31)
Question:
How to globally change one image into another?
Answer:
Select the image in image registry and choose Edit : Overwrite file from the menu


Script commands
(Daniel, USA Military, Wed, May 29, 2002 15:01)
Question:
Is there a reference on the command set and arguments for SuperMemo scripts (e.g. START 3, HITTEST , WAITGRADE, GOTO 2), etc.
Answer:
Yes. See: Script commands


Ctrl+A has been replaced with Alt+A
Question:
What happened to Ctrl+A shortcut? I have used it for years to add my items!
Answer:
Use Alt+A for the same purpose. Many customers complained that the old Ctrl+A shortcut was in conflict with the Select All standard for word processing in rich texts and HTML components


Inserting pictures from the registry
(Beta, Feb 14, 2002)
Question:
What is the fastest way to put a registry picture in an element?
Answer:
Select the picture in the image registry, and click Insert


Do text replaces on a subset of texts
(Jens, February 2002)
Question:
When I do text replace on a large collection it goes awfully slow!
Answer:
Do not do replace on the whole text registry. Search for the words to replace first with Ctrl+S and then run the replace on the registry subset with Ctrl+R. While the search procedure goes via plain text and is lightning fast, replace examines each registry member one by one


You can use Image : Stretch : Filled on image components to make them scale
(Beta, Feb 06, 2002)
Question:
When I use Scaled, my anatomy occlusions get messed up. The rectangle moves in reference to the picture
Answer:
Pictures are not rescaled with Scaled, only their bounding size changes. You need to choose Image : Stretch : Filled option if you want pictures to be scaled along with the image component


Occlusion rectangles are part of content  
(Beta, Feb 07, 2002)
Question:
Why do my occlusion rectangles move when I resize the element in the browser?
Answer:
Shapes (including rectangles) are the only components whose location and size are interpreted as content; i.e. not style. Only style is part of objectless template. Shapes are content as they play an essential part in occlusion learning and cannot be moved by changes to the template. However, this may produce rectangle misplacement if you size the element area in an element that uses a scaled template. This is why you have to turn Scaled off if you want to size occlusion template. Important! You also need to turn Scaled off in the source (accessible with Shift+Ctrl+U). Otherwise, the source will be scaled behind the template's back and propagate scaled coordinates through the template (which is transparent to content -- including occlusion rectangles). For simplicity, you could simply impose the occlusion template on source (Ctrl+Shift+F2), turn the Scaled off, and only then place the rectangle in the desired location


You can "merge" two pictures in the registry
(Beta, Piotr, Feb 07, 2002)
Question:
I have two pictures of a sea horse in image registry. I want one to replace the other in all places in my collection
Answer:
Use rename to give one member the same name as the other. SuperMemo will ask you which one should remain in the registry. If you use SuperMemo in the debug mode, you may see redirection warnings when using the new sea horse. Registry redirections will be eliminated at first File : Repair collection with Rebuild registries on


You can add a picture to many elements
(Beta, Feb 06, 2002)
Question:
How can I add a picture to a subset of elements
Answer:

  1. add the picture to one of these elements 
  2. save the template with objects 
  3. open the elements in the browser 
  4. apply the new template to all elements 
  5. impose the template on all elements 
  6. delete the template

Increasing the size of the font
(Beta, Poland, 02-03-08 17:37:43)
Question:
I tried to enlarge font in the answer part, but when I click the icon in the toolbar, the cursor jump at the end of the question part and nothing happens
Answer:
To enlarge a font using the Format toolbar, you need to select the text that is to be modified. You do not need to select the text if you use Ctrl+] and Ctrl+[ in presentation mode, but in such circumstances, all text components will be affected


Question font in Options does not work
(Piotr, Beta, Mar 08, 2002)
Question:
I changed Question font in Options, however, my text components still display the old font
Answer:
Question font
will only be used in components that do not define their own font. For example, if you format text in HTML components, the formatting will not be overridden by Question font. If a plain text in HTML components uses a registry font (via Link font), Question font will not be used either. See: Font options


Template objects are not registered with elements that use the template
(Beta, Feb 06, 2002)
Question:
Why aren't template objects registered with all elements that use them?
Answer:
Template change would require up to thousands of registration changes (depending on the frequency of template use). This is not possible for performance reasons with present data structures


Use Alt+PgDn to go to the next element
(JP, Beta, Feb 05, 2002)
Question:
One thing that drives me mad about read-points is that I cannot use PgDn to go to the next element and I need to use the mouse. The same refers to spell-pads but I do not use them often
Answer:
If you use Alt+PgDn instead of PgDn, it will ignore read-points and get you to the next element


Deleting all elements in the browser
(Beta, Apr 10, 2002)
Question:
Why isn't there an option to delete all elements in the browser?
Answer:
This option would be quite dangerous as you cannot delete an element without deleting all its children. To delete all elements stored in the browser, move them first to any branch and then delete this branch. Be sure to verify that you do not delete more than you intend to


You can paste images from the clipboard
(Beta, Romania, Fri, Feb 22, 2002 17:10)
Question:
What is the fastest way to insert an image component?
Answer:
You can paste images from the clipboard with Shift+Ins or Ctrl+V


Adding predefined templates to the registry
(Max, Beta, Sun, Feb 17, 2002 14:37)
Question:
It would be nice if, after an upgrade from earlier versions, SuperMemo added default templates to the template registry
Answer:
You can add these templates by choosing Tools : Add predefined templates in the template registry


Infinite cycle of template corrections
(Beta, Apr 08, 2002)
Question:
I go into an infinite cycle of corrections. My question sometimes covers the answer. When I shrink the question, my topics also shrink. If I extend them, my question starts covering the answer. What is worse, it happens only from time to time so that I cannot diagnose it
Answer:
You need to consistently differentiate between your topic template used in reading articles, and your item template used for questions and answers. If you happen to use the topic template on an item with an answer, it will naturally cover the answer. Once you resize it, all topics using this template will resize. The solution: use one template for one kind of element layout/function


Strange category names
(Beta, 3/6/2002 5:01:58 PM)
Question:
Category names have appeared that are similar to mine except with a weird ASCII character at the end
Answer:
This happens if you create more categories with the same name. As registry names must be unique, SuperMemo adds unique character to the end of duplicated names (in the category registry). For example: Geography#, Geography@, Geography~


Inserting a category in the knowledge tree provides more control than adding it as a child
(Beta, Poland, 02-03-11 16:18:18)
Question:
When adding a category in the contents window, the category gets inserted as a sibling not as a child of the selection
Answer:
Adding a child does not make it possible to select the location where the child should be placed among other children. This is why inserting the category in the place of the selection seems to be a better default. This makes it easy for the user to decide the exact location of the category without following it with drag&drop


You can rearrange the knowledge tree in the contents window with drag'n'drop operations
(Julian R, Tuesday, November 21, 2000 11:00 PM)
Question:
Is there a way of swapping the position of two folders in the contents window?
Answer:
Yes. Just drag one folder over the other with the mouse.


Transferring a collection to a new file will renumber elements
(Beta, Thursday, January 10, 2002 4:31 PM)
Question:
My collection used to have more than 370,000 elements. I reduced it to 230,000 elements. However, the unused elements are still present in the files. Could you advise me how to get rid of them?
Answer:
Elements are not renumbered at delete. The vacant element slots are reused when building up a new collection, but in your case that could take a long time. If element numbers are not vital, you could transfer your collection to a newly created one (e.g. with File : Merge collection). This would renumber all elements. However, note that element transfer does not transfer templates, categories, unregistered scripts, etc. For that reasons, you might prefer to simply run File : Repair collection with all options checked and hope to reuse the redundant fields while adding more material to the collection


Overwriting templates
(Beta, Tuesday, April 02, 2002 4:00 PM)
Question:
What is the effect if I choose Template : Save as template, enter the same name as the default template for the category, and click Yes to overwrite?
Answer:
Overwriting one template with another will put the new template data in place of the old template data. Your category will now use the new template. All elements that used the old template will now use the new template. This, naturally, does not refer to elements who had the template detached or imposed


Set category ordinal to zero to choose a sequential ordinal
(Beta, Wednesday, February 13, 2002 6:03 PM)
Question:
SuperMemo sets all newly added elements with a category ordinal. Is there any way of making SuperMemo not do it? I want all ordinals to differ
Answer:
If you set the category ordinal to zero, the default ordinal will equal the number of elements in the collection


Pictures do not show after applying a picture-less template
(Beta, Apr 10, 2002)
Question:
Why importing from the web produces an HTML template with Template flags : Skip source extras checked? When I later add pictures and apply this template, the pictures are not visible
Answer:
Uncheck the Skip source extras flag in your the default topic template in the category to which you import your articles


Importing MCT along Q&A
(Beta, Tue, Apr 09, 2002 19:52)
Question:
In multiple choice test import, it is illogical to have two radio boxes sections enabled. Either you choose Q&A template (first section) or MCT template (second section)
Answer:
Imported text files can include both Q&A items and MCT items. SuperMemo will distinguish between the two by the presence of false answer fields (A1:, A2:, etc.). For that reason, SuperMemo needs to know which template should be applied when it encounters a question-answer item, and which template should be applied when it encounters a multiple choice item


You cannot replace HTML tags globally
(Beta, Mar 04, 2002)
Question:
Is it possible to replace some HTML tags globally?
Answer:
Not within SuperMemo. All you can do is to replace plain texts with texts containing HTML tags. For example, you can replace "Napoleon was exiled to Elba" with "Napoleon was exiled to <b>Elba</b>". You can use file tools to process tags globally. All tagged HTML files (except external links) are stored in the ELEMENTS folder (untagged HTML is stored in text registry instead)


The purpose of View Source
(Beta, Christian, Apr 03, 2002)
Question:
I cannot see the sense of view source in template operations. If I want to go back to the source template I can detach the template
Answer:
View Source
is useful if you want to quickly peek at the source template. You can do it with Ctrl+Shift+U. The same key will return the template look. Detaching and reapplying the template in such circumstances would require accessing the menu, finding the detached template in the template registry (without actually being informed which template had been detached), and reapplying the template


Templates can affect the displayed texts
(Beta, Tuesday, April 02, 2002 4:00 PM)
Question:
Why would some elements duplicate each other's answer text, while other elements not. Perhaps making changes and then trying to save them by overwriting the old template definition would have something to do with it?
Answer:
If you overwrite one template with another, the new template contents will be used to display all elements that use the old template. If you save objects, such as texts, while overwriting the old template, those objects may, but do not have to, be used in elements using that template. If the answer field of an element with an overwritten template has been already filled out, the element's original text will be displayed. However, if that field is empty, the texts saved into the template will be displayed. If you rename the text in the template, all elements that do show that text will show the new text. However, the elements that display the original text will still show no change. If the source and template texts happen to be the same, changing the template text may have a confusing effect of some texts being shown as changed and others shown without change


Importing tab-delimited text
(John McGrath, Netherlands, Mon, May 27, 2002 9:43)
Question:
I have several tab delimited text files created for Palm Pilot SuperMemo that I created in Excel. How can I import these files to SuperMemo 2002?
Answer:
SuperMemo 2002 or later does not support import from tab-delimited text files. These are the three options you have: 

  1. Convert your tab-delimited file to Q&A format accepted by SuperMemo (you can do it easily with macros in Excel) 
  2. Export your files from Palm Pilot SuperMemo in Q&A Format and import to SuperMemo 2002 
  3. Recommended: paste your text file to SuperMemo with Ctrl+Alt+N and use incremental reading to learn it 

Although the third solution may seem awkward for beginners, incremental reading tools should be your primary choice for processing all source text files and converting them into well-structured learning material. The processing overhead is negligible as compared with the learning time. Your first exposure to individual pairs is passive anyway (unless you already know the answer). Using Alt+X for extracts is instantaneous. On the second exposure, you execute a cloze deletion after selecting the answer part (Alt+Z). In other words, you need two additional key strokes that can be executed in parallel with the review process. You can use this approach to import lengthy glossary lists from the Internet and process them with negligible overhead. See also: incremental reading 


Scrollbars appear if the content of the element window goes beyond its client area
(tomkin243, Sat Nov 24, 2001 8:48 pm)
Question:
I have a scrolling problem. Two scrollbars appear: one on the rtf-text, and one on the element window. Often these two overlap, and one is inaccessible
Answer:
The obstructing element window scrollbar will appear if your RTF text component is larger than element's client area. There are two solutions: 

  1. Increase the size of the element window, and preserve it by saving the windows layout (e.g. Ctrl+Shift+F5
  2. Reduce the size of the RTF window. For example, click the window and grab one of its edges (you may need to use the element window scrollbar here to reach the bottom-left corner of the RTF window)

SuperMemo does not use "Save As" because it does not keep files in memory (#8633)
(mark, Denmark, Sunday, September 23, 2001 1:42 PM)
Question:
I suggest you rename Copy collection to Save as as in most applications (e.g. MS Office). The difference between Copy and Save as, is that Copy leaves the user in the collection and not in the new copy. Save as leaves the user in the new file. You could also give the user a choice: Do you want to continue working in the file or switch to the new file?
Answer:
The main difference between SuperMemo and most Office applications is that SuperMemo collections are not kept in computer's memory but its files are kept on the user's disk. Some collections grow to hundreds of megabytes and reading them all into memory would: (1) clog less resourceful computers, (2) take time, (3) make user data vulnerable to power outages and other disasters. Using Save as would be misleading in this sense that Save as leaves the old copy unchanged, while Copy creates an identical duplicate. In old SuperMemos, indeed the new collection would be opened after copy. However, users frequently complained that this left them confused. In addition, the user optimally works with one collections that keeps all his or her vital knowledge and uses Copy collection only to back up his data. In other words, unlike with an Office application, the user will sculpt his only work of art instead of developing many independent pieces of work in progress. Last but not least, Office applications that keep files on the hard disk do not use Save as either. For example, FrontPage uses Close Web while Save as is reserved only for individual files. MS Outlook keeps all data in one static file, while Save as is reserved for saving individual items (e.g. pieces of e-mail), etc. Providing an option as to which file should be opened would add to program's complexity. If the user wants to switch to the newly created file, (s)he can choose Alt+F and 1 (for File : 1.[recent copy])


Editing an element with a template may affect the template
(Nathan Forsdyke ..., Mon, Jun 10, 2002 22:39)
Question:
If I change the position size of a picture component then ALL the templates using the same one get changed too! There should be only one way to change the master template
Answer:
This behavior is by design. If you see your template needs a correction, you fix it as soon as you see it in any element. If you want an element to reuse the template but create its own look, impose and detach the template (e.g. with Ctrl+Shift+F2). In such a case, changes to the element will not affect other elements. However, if you change the original template, the change will not be reflected in the element from which the template had been detached.


You can recognize the editing and dragging mode by the appearance of components
(Dustin Darcy, USA Educational, Friday, January 25, 2002 1:21 AM)
Question:
Sometimes it isn't clear whether or not the GUI is in editing, presentation, or the dragging mode. Some sort of indicator in the title bar would be nice
Answer:
SuperMemo uses presentation, editing and dragging modes mostly in reference to components, not whole elements. Consequently, the user only needs to learn how to recognize the mode of individual components. Whenever possible, these are the indicators of individual modes: 

  • presentation mode - minimum interface, no border (unless requested) 
  • editing mode - resizing border, editable content whenever possible (e.g. blinking caret in texts) 
  • dragging mode - resizing border, shadowy colors whenever possible, draggable with the mouse

With Alt+click on the element area (or on individual components), you should quickly learn to recognize individual component modes


The format of text files that can be imported to SuperMemo is very simple
(Marc Zaban Fogel, Thursday, August 29, 2002 7:28 AM)
Question:
How should I format a text file with learning material in order to import it to SuperMemo?
Answer:
For a classic SuperMemo item, you would need to precede the question part of an item with Q: and the answer part with A:

Q: the question part of an item
A: the answer part of an item

The exemplary item in a Q&A format would look like this:

Q: med: a non-cancerous fluid-filled sac in the ovary
A: ovarian cyst


You can undismiss elements in your collection
(Jerry Sallis, Monday, September 16, 2002 12:38 PM)
Question:
How can I undismiss a number of elements once they have been dismissed?
Answer:
The procedure goes as follows:

  1. Choose View : Dismissed from the main menu (it opens a browser with all dismissed elements in the current collection)
  2. Press the Process browser button (the second from the left) on the browser toolbar, and select Learning : Undismiss
  3. Respond with Yes to the Do you want to stop ignoring all browser elements query

You can create multiple-choice items
(Karolina Melkowska, Poland, Friday, September 20, 2002 11:18 PM)
Question:
How can I create multiple choice items?
Answer:
The procedure is this:

  1. Click Add new at the bottom of the element window
  2. Open the element menu by right-clicking the mouse over the element's display area
  3. Choose Template : Apply template from the element menu (or press Ctrl+Shift+M)
  4. In the template registry, select Multiple Choice member in the left-pane of the registry and press the Accept button at the bottom of the window

You can change the default font
(harold hill, Saturday, September 28, 2002 6:36 AM)
Question:
I have imported a number of items in the Q&A form into my SuperMemo collection. Now would I like to increase the size of the font used in question and answer components, what is the fastest way to accomplish it?
Answer:
Choose Tools : Options from the main menu, click the Fonts tab, and use the Question font and Answer font buttons. Default font affects only plain text and rich text components


Using categories
(Fred.Clough, Tuesday, February 05, 2002 7:01 PM)
Question:
If I select an element in the contents window and choose to make a category, it pops up with a dialog that lets me input a name. But what use is this?
Answer:
This will only create a category. This category will now become the current category. This means that if you press Alt+A or click Add New, you will be adding new items in that particular place of the knowledge tree. That is not very useful yet. However, if you go to Search : Categories and choose a template for your new category, all your new items will get the desired look (e.g. color, font, size, etc.). To make a good use of categories, you will then need to become fluent with templates first


You can import items sent in a text file from a friend
(Karolina Melkowska, Poland, Saturday, September 28, 2002 2:05 PM)
Question:
My friend has sent me around 100 SuperMemo items in a text file. Is there a way to import them into my collection all at once?
Answer:
Use File : Import : Q&A text


Limit on the number of children in contents is imposed for performance reasons
(Steven White, Australia, Thursday, September 12, 2002 8:10 AM)
Question:
Is there any way to force a linear knowledge tree. I just want new items added on the end but they seem to be created as child items in places. It takes a lot of work to drag them back to a linear tree
Answer:
Unfortunately you will sooner or later be forced to give up adding new children to the root node due to performance reasons. Each time SuperMemo opens a tree node, it needs to read all information from the hard disk. Once you add many elements to a single node of the tree, your SuperMemo will start slowing down. By design, knowledge tree should not play part in learning other than by helping you organize knowledge and delineate knowledge subsets. For that reason, it should not matter if children of a node are organized in one or in many levels. The limit on the number of children per tree node is set precisely for the reason of maximum performance and uninterrupted flow of repetitions even in cases where your knowledge tree is set to expand and visualize the location of the current element


You can import text to SuperMemo
(nader c., Sunday, August 25, 2002 2:00 PM)
Question:
Can SuperMemo import text? I have question and answer file saved on a diskette
Answer:
SuperMemo can import plain text as long as it is represented in Q&A format. See: File : Import : Q&A text. If the text is not formatted as Q&A, you can paste it to incremental reading (Ctrl+Alt+N) and process using incremental reading tools (i.e. Alt+X and Alt+Z)


Non-HTML texts are not kept in formatted files
(Dustin J. D., USA Educational, Fri, Jun 21, 2002 22:29)
Question:
Why does not SuperMemo create HTML files instantly when I create an HTML component?
Answer:
If your text is unformatted, the file is not created in order to save space. Formatted texts are kept in the registry (e.g. for search purposes) and in an HTML file (to retain formatting). Unformatted texts are kept only in the registry. This approach substantially saves the space needed for collections. It also speeds up file copying which may slow down to a crawl with a large number of small files. You can quickly convert HTML and plain text files in HTML components. Use Ctrl+Shift+F12 to generate plain text. Use any formatting command to create HTML (e.g. Ctrl+])


Adding fonts to SuperMemo (#25587)
(Stanley Ross, May 26, 2004, 23:02:22)
Question:
How can I add fonts to SuperMemo. I want to add the international symbols for language transciption (ILP) codes
Answer:
To use a font in SuperMemo, you need to install it in Windows. The course of action will then depend on the type of the text component you use. With HTML and RTF components, select a block of text and choose the font button on the Format toolbar. With plain text components you can define fonts used with individual texts or with templates that can be then used in many elements (use options in the Font submenu in the Text submenu of the component menu: New Font, Edit Font and Link Font, etc.). 

See more:


Use the editing mode to fill out text fields
(Tim Elston, Sat, Jun 29, 2002 15:37)
Question:
How do I fill in the multiple choice template? When I tried to fill in the area with the next possible answer, the four remaining areas turned red and would not allow me to enter text
Answer:
You need to use the editing mode to enter texts. For example, press Ctrl+E to set all components in the editing mode. Use Ctrl+T to move to editing the next component. You can also Alt+click a component that should be modified


The use of spell-pad should be restricted to spelling exercises
(Jeromy Wong, USA Educational, Friday, October 26, 2001 6:17 AM )
Question:
I prefer the function of interactive learning, i.e. to be able to type my answer in comparison with the original input answer
Answer:
Except for spelling exercises, the use of Spell-Pad component in SuperMemo should be limited. Research shows that using the Spell-Pad component slows down the learning process without improving retention or reducing the number of repetitions per item. On spelling exercises, where the use of the Spell-Pad is necessary, you can convert your standard question-answer element to a question-spelling element with the Spelling template in the template registry. For example, choose Ctrl+Shift+M (Apply Template), type "Spell" and press Enter. To permanently use the spelling template, set it as the default template in your current category (e.g. with Ctrl+Alt+M). This will make sure that the Spelling template is used on all newly added elements


SuperMemo cannot convert WAV files to MP3 format
(Vaclav, Jun 23, 2001)

Question:
Can sound components convert WAV files to MP3 (as image components convert BMP to JPEG)?
Answer:
No. You need a separate utility to convert WAV files to MP3


Drag&Match allows of no more than ten rectangles)
(Piotr, Mon, Oct 01, 2001 21:42)
Question:
Why can I not add more than ten rectangles to a Drag&Match test?
Answer:
There is a hard-wired limit of 10 rectangles in Drag&Match tests. If you add more rectangles, the performance will suffer and your item may become excessively complex. This may quarrel with the minimum information principle


Merging collections is bound to be slow
(Maarten Mols , Netherlands, Monday, February 09, 2004 11:39 PM)
Question:
Is there a chance for a quicker way of merging two collections than using File : Merge collection
Answer:
Unfortunately, transfer of the learning material in SuperMemo for Windows is only likely to get slower. The speed of transfer is limited by the complex structure of SuperMemo collections. When transferring simple questions and answers you are not only moving pieces of text. You also need to build the component structure, set all component and element attributes, transfer the learning process, update all learning statistics, transfer repetition history of individual items, build new files for retention, consolidation, parameter distributions, etc. Worst of all, all objects used by a single element are kept in indexed registries whose indexes have to be searched through and updated on the transfer of each picture, text, sound, font and even each individual lexical unit (word). Object references in SuperMemo scripts must be updated (as numbers of elements change). This means that SuperMemo has to scan all scripts in the transferred material and update them. Note that currently SuperMemo does not attempt to update references intertwined in HTML code of text components. However, due to customer complaints that those references get lost on transfer of the learning material, these will also have to be updated in the future slowing the transfer process further. With each new option in SuperMemo, complexity of the database structure increases. That will slow the transfer further. Historically though, the increase in the speed of computers compensated well enough for the increase in the complexity of SuperMemo. Consequently, with SuperMemo, you need to be less worried about the quality of your PC today that you were at the times of Windows 3.0 over a decade ago


Determining the timing of sound playback
(Gitte Stangel, Monday, May 20, 2002 8:57 AM)
Question:
I am trying to learn Slovak. The problem is that the word in English appears and the sound track in Slovak is played, which gives out the answer. How do I delay the sound?
Answer:
You can control the timing of playback with Play At option on the component menu. You can play sound at any step of the repetition cycle or any combination of steps. It is also recommended that you check Answer to make sure that associated texts do not provide an additional hint


You can import audio and video files in most popular formats
(Timothy Winey, United Kingdom, Thursday, August 01, 2002 8:21 AM)
Question:
How can I import audio or video files to SuperMemo?
Answer:
There are many ways. You will most likely want to import sound files to a sound component and video files to a video component. In such cases, use Import file option on the component menu


Infinite recursive text replacement
(P. Zmudzinski, Aug 05, 2002)
Question:
I am trying to do search and replace but got stuck when attempting to replace "Lord Cornwallis" with "Lord Cornwallis (The Patriot)". I get this error "Cannot run Replace All on infinitely recursive replacements"
Answer:
This error prevents infinite replacements. SuperMemo could try to replace "Lord Cornwallis" from the replacement again and again. You can go around this by first replacing "Lord Cornwallis" with "Lordx Cornwallis (The Patriot)" and then "Lordx Cornwallis" with "Lord Cornwallis"


You can select more than one elements in the contents window
(louis, Canada, Monday, November 18, 2002 3:05 PM)
Question:
Can I select more than one elements in the contents window?
Answer:
Similarly to Windows Explorer:
(1) To select consecutive elements, click the first element, press and hold down Shift, and then click the last element,
(2) To select nonconsecutive elements, press and hold down Ctrl, and then click each element


RTF and HTML components stay always on top
(Richard Bai, China, Sunday, December 15, 2002 12:00 AM)
Question:
When I add an image component to my RTF-based elements it is always behind the question and answer components. I tried to fix that with changing the component order but it did not help.
Answer:
RTF and HTML components always stay on top independently of the component order in a given element. In such a case, you should resize components that obstruct the image


You can create many different testing exercises
(Danny Batard, Saturday, December 14, 2002 6:43 PM)
Question:
Does SuperMemo feature "multiple choice", True/False, "Fill-In" flashcard questions?
Answer:
SuperMemo elements are created by means of components. There are fourteen different types of components for including text, image, sound, video, etc. in your elements. They are all available on the Compose toolbar. Furthermore, each component has specific properties that enable you to customize its appearance or control the way it behaves. They are available from the component menu. All this enables you to design all imaginable forms of testing (including multiple choice tests, spelling exercises, point and click test, pronunciation exercises, drag and match tests, and many more)


Creating occlusion tests is simple
(Lisa Reaves, Tuesday, December 31, 2002 4:57 AM)
Question:
Could you provide me with an accurate, step-by-step instructions on how to create an occlusion test?
Answer:
(1) Add a new item (e.g. by clicking the Add new button (Alt+A),
(2) Right-click the newly added element, and then select Template : Apply template (Shift+Ctrl+M) from the element menu,
(3) In the template registry window, in the left pane, select the Occlusion template registry member, and then click the Accept button to apply the selected template,
(4) Right-click the image component behind the red occlusion rectangle, select Import file (Ctrl+Q) from the component menu,
(5) Upon importing the graphic, move the occlusion rectangle over the part of the picture, which is the subject of the question,
(6) Fill out question and answer components with appropriate texts


Sound component may not disable player buttons if the sound file is missing
(Yossi Patt, Israel, Saturday, August 10, 2002 9:59 AM)
Question:
In Advanced English 2002, I can see the sound toolbar, but none of the buttons responds
Answer:
Depending on the setting of Sound : Panel in sound components, the buttons may or may not be disabled when the sound file is absent (e.g. due to a wrong setting of the secondary storage). For example, Sound : Panel : Recorder leaves all buttons enabled. In this setting you can record your own pronunciation even if the original file is absent or temporarily inaccessible


Converting remote images to local images
(Cezary Gorzenski, Jul 19, 2004, 19:57:51)
Question:
I imported a web page from a website directly to SuperMemo. How can I make sure that the images that are still located on the remote server do not disappear when the server becomes unavailable?
Answer:
Use Download Images on the component menu (Ctrl+F8) with Import. This option will help you choose which images to download, preview the downloaded pictures, import those you think are important and place them in tiled image components. 

You can also keep the images embedded in HTML. For that, however, you must remember never to delete the source article (in order to save space, images are only kept in association with the source). To keep embedded images local, use Download Images on the component menu (Ctrl+F8) and choose Localize


You can import questions and answers with a specific font size and color
(Alexander A Klimenko, France, Mar 19, 2005, 02:12:27)
Question:
I have a material with Sanskrit roots. I wish there were a way of importing it with the possibility of giving font and size. The default templates do not recognize UTF8 and give ??? instead of characters
Answer:
If you format your material as a Q&A file with font size and color encoded in HTML, you can import this file using default HTML temples (e.g. the default Item template). An even simpler solution would be to paste your entire material file in its native format into SuperMemo (e.g. with Ctrl+Alt+N), and process it with incremental reading. Because there is no easy way to do global HTML formatting in SuperMemo, you should rather format your material before pasting to SuperMemo (e.g. globally replacing font sizes and colors throughout the source file)


Setting ordinals en masse
(alireza bidkani, Nov 12, 2005, 08:07:04)
Question:
How can I make the number of all created and deleted items the same as ordinal number?
Answer:
The default ordinal is set in proportion to the current number of elements in the collection (Total in Statistics). This way, if you sort your collection by ordinals, elements added first will come on top. However, if you delete a portion of items, you will shift back the ordinal counter. If you want to set a different order of items or different values of ordinals, arrange the subset of elements that is to be changed in the browser and use Ordinal options from the Process browser menu. In particular, you can choose View : All and use Ordinal : Spread Ordinals to set a linear order to all existing elements


Adding sounds to SuperMemo
(lee ferguson, May 05, 2005, 12:58:19)
Question:
How can I get an audio file in an element?
Answer:
You can either add a sound component from the Compose toolbar, right click and choose Import file, or you can change your default template to add many items with sounds. 
For example: 

  1. choose Search : Categories 
  2. click Template and double-click Sound 
  3. click Add New 
  4. right click sound components and choose Import file to import files to question and answer

You can change your default editor used with pictures or HTML files
(Kazimierz B, Friday, September 16, 2005 3:26 AM)
Question:
I would like to change default image editor (Ctrl+F9) from MS Paintbrush to Microsoft Photo Editor
Answer:
All you need to do is to change the association for the action Edit for all relevant file types (extensions) (e.g. JPG, BMP, etc.). You can do it in Windows XP in Control Panel : Folder Options : File Types or in any application that creates file type associations


You can see how the element will look to the user during learning
(Skimming, Glen, Aug 09, 2004, 17:14:56)
Question:
How can I immediately test the knowledge element to see how it looks for users?
Answer:
Press Ctrl+Shift+L (Components : Test repetition cycle on the element menu). Press Esc a few times if the keyboard shortcut does not work (e.g. as while editing HTML)


You can make the sound play at answer time (#28382)
(Kevin Rahm, Sep 29, 2004, 12:01:05)
Question:
Is there a way to have the audio file play when I ask for the answer?
Answer:
Yes. Import the sound to a sound component and check Answer on the component menu


You can establish a "home page" in your collection (#29046)
(tomas, Czech Republic, Oct 14, 2004, 21:36:21)
Question:
For each collection, I would like to make it possible to establish a "homepage", which could be just any element that the user chooses
Answer:
You can use Tools : Options : Access : Default element for that purpose

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