FAQ: Incremental reading

See also:


Incremental reading requires some experience
(SRD, Wed, May 22, 2002 3:04)
Question:
I do not know how to tackle this text in incremental reading. Any hints?

After the discovery of Pluto, it was quickly determined that Pluto was too small to account for the discrepancies in the orbits of the other planets. The search for Planet X continued but nothing was found. Nor is it likely that it ever will be: the discrepancies vanish if the mass of Neptune determined from the Voyager 2 encounter with Neptune is used. There is no tenth planet

Answer:
Here are some exemplary processing stages. Yours might be different. In the end, you can convert the cloze deletions into more direct and well-formulated questions-and-answers:

Extract 1: Pluto is too small to account for the discrepancies in the orbits of the other planets

  1. [...](planet) is too small to account for the discrepancies in the orbits of the other planets
  2. Pluto is too [...] to account for the discrepancies in the orbits of the other planets
  3. Pluto is too small to account for the [...] of the other planets
  4. Pluto is too small to account for the discrepancies in the orbits of [...]

Extract 2: Pluto was too small to account for the discrepancies in the orbits of the other planets. The search for Planet X continued but nothing was found

  1. Pluto was too small. The search for Planet X continued and [...] was found

Extract 3: Pluto was too small to account for the discrepancies in the orbits of the other planets. The discrepancies vanish if the mass of Neptune determined from the Voyager 2 encounter with Neptune is used

  1. Pluto was too small. The discrepancies [...] if the mass of Neptune determined from the Voyager 2 encounter is used
  2. Pluto was too small. The discrepancies vanish if the new [...] of Neptune is used
  3. Pluto was too small. The discrepancies vanish if the mass of [...] determined by the Voyager 2 is used
  4. Pluto was too small. The discrepancies vanish if the mass of Neptune determined from the [...] encounter with Neptune is used
  5. Pluto was too small. The discrepancies vanish if the mass determined from the Voyager 2 encounter with [...] is used

Extract 4: There is no tenth planet

  1. There [is/isn't] the tenth planet
  2. There is no [...]th planet

You cannot learn Britannica in a lifetime
(Terje Tonsberg, Kuwait, Jan 31, 2001)
Question:
"Devouring knowledge" article contains a factual mistake where it says: "Even a single copy of the Encyclopaedia Britannica goes in detail far beyond what a single human being can encompass in a lifetime!" This is wrong. I have personally met people who have memorized books of at least this size and historical accounts of such scholars abound
Answer:
Assuming we do not deal with humans affected with a mutation to their memory system, this would falsify the theory of SuperMemo which should apply to all healthy adults. In the light of SuperMemo, memorizing Britannica verges on impossible. There are 44 million words in Britannica's 32 volumes. This translates to 6 million SuperMemo items ("human memory bits") assuming the average keyword extraction on information dense texts as 1:7. Assuming a 50-year learning span, we get to 18250 days and 330 items per day. Assuming optimum representation of knowledge (say Britannica is already "perfectly formulated") you cannot learn faster for a given level of knowledge retention than with SuperMemo (it simply finds the mathematical optimum), and practice shows it is very difficult to sustain more than 100 items per day in the long run with retention around 95%. In other words, for an intelligent man, for perfectly formulated Britannica knowledge, with SuperMemo, you are hardly able to accomplish the goal with your whole life devoted to the task. Except for anecdotal reports, we are not aware of comparable long-term memory feats. We will gladly include here links to such reports except those that are obviously false or unreliable


Not everyone experiences information fatigue but ... SuperMemo will certainly help
(Krzysztof Kowalczyk, USA, Dec 31, 2000)
Question:
I don't buy the stresslessness argument. I doubt that with the exception of students having too much to study there is a significant source of stress
Answer:

No motivation - no stress: There is a precondition for experiencing stress of having too much to read or too much to learn: obsessive hunger for knowledge, fear of not being able to keep up, pressing need for new knowledge, etc. This precondition is quite abundant in general population according to a number of studies, and is actually less likely in younger individuals, including students, who are shielded from stress by their less mature motivation for learning. The term Information Fatigue Syndrome has been coined recently to refer to stress coming from problems with managing overwhelming information. Some consequences of IFS listed by Dr. David Lewis, a British psychologist, include: anxiety, tension, procrastination, time-wasting, loss of job satisfaction, self-doubt, psychosomatic stress, breakdown of relationships, reduced analytical capacity, etc. 
Stress management: There is a strong variability as to how people cope with stress. For many, information overload may result in just hardly noticeable anxiety, for others, this may verge on obsessive compulsive disorder and may require medical consultation or even medication
SuperMemo and stress: SuperMemo helps you take away a substantial proportion of information overload stress. In a typical IFS stress therapy, you will see that scrupulous notes, ordering one's desk, planning one's work, keeping a calendar of appointments, etc. all have a strong therapeutic value. SuperMemo does exactly the same: it helps you keep a scrupulous and well-prioritized record of what you want to read and takes away stressful chaos from the process of acquiring information and learning the collected material. SuperMemo eliminates disorder and the ensuing uncertainty that often characterizes wild searches for information on the net
Further reading: Dying for Information, Information Fatigue


PhotoReading is not likely to enhance incremental reading
(Vitaliy Vorontsov, Ukraine, Jan 4, 2001)
Question:
Do you think I should invest in the course of PhotoReading? Would PhotoReading be a good supplement to SuperMemo? Would my incremental reading be faster?
Answer:
PhotoReading is not likely to help you accelerate incremental reading, unless your reading is really slow. The bottleneck in the speed of acquiring information is neither in reading nor in short-term memory. You are mostly limited by your long-term memory. The usual situation is that you are faced with by far more to read than you are able to read. Then you read much faster than you are able to remember things. Ultimately, your speed of learning will be determined by the speed of introducing the study material to your long-term memory. Even if you double your reading speed (which may not be easy), your total learning time will be reduced marginally. The premise of PhotoReading is to use the power of parallel processing of the human brain. Unfortunately, harnessing this power is not always possible. First, we are limited by the ability to efficiently store images of the read text in short-term memory (unlike in remembering faces, our brain does not know the "language" that would extract the necessary minimum of information and store it in an efficient way). Then we cannot use subconscious processing to assimilate thus acquired texts (again, unlike in visual processing of faces, the brain does not have a dedicated circuitry to do that for us). PhotoReading training is similar to a training that can help you divide multi-digit numbers: the investment goes far beyond the benefit. In practice, this translates to classifying PhotoReading as a skill in filtering important information (i.e. the main benefit is not in the "photographic" step). Filtering skills are great for reading fiction (e.g. if you need it for your English class tomorrow morning) but may be of little use in reading information-rich dense technical texts (i.e. where the ratio of important text to all text is high). A book on PhotoReading available from Amazon.com [see: opinions] costs a fraction of the course and should provide you with most of you need to know about reading techniques. Here is a comment from a user familiar with both SuperMemo and PhotoReading: In Photoreading you basically skim the material in several different fashions, each taking greater time and going into greater depth. The final step is "real" reading, which one can do if one wishes. The previous steps take maybe an hour, and really do give a solid overview of the material. When you finally get around to the "reading" step, you often find that the previous steps have given you a BIG chunk of the data you were looking for. The only part of the whole thing that is a bit "iffy" and "new-agey" is the actual "photoreading" step, where you are supposedly impressing the book on your subconscious at the rate of a page a second. I am aware of no studies of even a semi-rigorous nature that back this up. I personally believe that the human mind has vast untapped resources, but am not sure what I think about this "photoreading" part.
As you can see, PhotoReading also attempts at delinearizing the reading process. Incremental reading does the same; however, you are guaranteed never to miss fragments extracted as important. You simply use SuperMemo instead of your short-term memory for the purpose. Your only overhead cost is 2-3 mouse clicks per extract
See also: Skeptic's Dictionary: Speed-reading and A student's perspective to PhotoReading


In the short run, SuperMemo may be less efficient than your current learning method
(Andrzej H., Poland, Jan 10, 2001)
Question:
Can I conclude from this article that I can take a pile of articles and memorize them all perfectly in one day (e.g. before an important exam)?
Answer:
Not at all! Just the opposite. In the very short run, SuperMemo or incremental reading are less effective than traditional cramming or speed-reading methods. The foundation of the presented methodology is review and repetition. If you rush through an article in SuperMemo, you get the same or less immediate benefit as compared with speed-reading the same article in your web browser. Your follow up retention will essentially be the same. You will not benefit from the speed benefit which comes out upon the first review of quickly extracted fragments (usually within few days of the first reading). You will not benefit from increase in consistency and quality of knowledge structure. Your creativity will not be affected. The only minor factor that could show up within a day is the stress factor. If you know you will get a chance to review the extracts in the future, you may be reading with the added comfort that whatever is lost today may be recovered later. SuperMemo is a long-term tool, the longer the time-span the greater the benefit. If you work for short-term goals for dispensable knowledge (e.g. tomorrow's exam), use standard cramming, mnemonic and speed-reading techniques!


High retention does not have to result in slow learning!
(Robyn Harte Bunting, Dec 31, 2000)
Question:
I have been trialing the paper-based SuperMemo in learning philosophy. Unfortunately given that a sensible acquisition rate is 10-20 items per day (otherwise you suggested the material becomes unmanageable) and the material is very, very complex I have found that I cannot cover more than 1-2 paragraphs per day. At this rate I will only be able to read 1 book a year!
Answer:
You need to understand a clear distinction between the two extremes of learning:

  • high-retention-low-volume learning (as in early versions of SuperMemo) - in which you make sure you remember 95 or more percent of the studied material

  • low-retention-high-volume learning (as in traditional forms of learning) - in which you quickly process large chunks of the material while having to struggle with massive forgetting

Reading books belongs to the low-retention category, while memorizing 10-20 items per day with SuperMemo belongs to the high-retention category. The optimum reading strategy will find the golden mean between these two. You should not give up traditional reading. Neither should you expect to put all your study material into SuperMemo. You should choose a middle-ground strategy. For example, if you consistently spend 90% of your time on reading and 10% of your time on adding most important findings to SuperMemo, your reading speed will actually decline only by some 10%, while the retention of the most important pieces will be as high as programmed in SuperMemo (up to 99%). 

The concept of incremental reading introduced in SuperMemo 2000 provides you with a precise tool for finding the optimum balance between speed and retention. You will ensure high-retention of the most important pieces of text, while a large proportion of time will be spent reading at speeds comparable or higher than those typical of traditional book reading.

It is worth noting that the learning speed limit in high-retention learning is imposed by your memory. If one-book-per-year sounds like a major disappointment, the roots of this lay in human memory. Our current knowledge of psychophysiology and pharmacology does not provide any means that could allow of breaking beyond that limit. We are left with the choice between high-speed and high-retention. Incremental reading gives you a full hands-on control over finding the optimum balance


Topics vs. Items
(Jim Ivy, USA, June 4, 1997)
Question:
What is the difference between a topic and an item?
Answer:
Topics are used to present, read or review knowledge (like chapters in a book), while items are used to test knowledge by means of repetitions (e.g. they have the question-and-answer structure). Topics help you understand the subject before you begin repetitions. See also: Topics vs. items


Use Remember Extract if you do not want to specify the first interval
Question:
The need to specify the interval in Schedule Extract is annoying. I would like SuperMemo to just use the optimum interval
Answer:
This is exactly what Remember Extract does


You cannot turn off marking words used to generate cloze deletions
(Walter G. Mayfield, Jr., Wednesday, July 04, 2001 12:37 AM)
Question:
Is there a way to do cloze deletions without SuperMemo altering the original text?
Answer:
Currently you cannot customize cloze deletion behavior. Marking the keywords with a different font is very important in properly structuring knowledge for active recall. Usually, while at knowledge processing stage, your items will form a messy mix of various fonts and formats. However, once they assume their final shape, they will usually be moved to the target category. This will apply the default category template with a uniform category font (assuming space-saving plain text components are used in the target template). In the future, cloze formats are likely to be customizable


Reading lists are tasklists that hold articles for reading
(Reinhard K. Koehler (neusob), Germany, Sat, Aug 18, 2001 20:31)
Question:
Is there any difference between a task list and a reading list?
Answer:
A tasklist is a list of tasks sorted by value/time ratio. A reading list is a special kind of tasklist, in which all tasks are articles (e.g. that are to be introduced to incremental reading)


Incremental reading resolves the valuation problem in choosing best articles
(Adam, Australia, Monday, September 10, 2001 7:28 AM)
Question:
How can you know if an article is very important without first reading it?
Answer:
One of the greatest advantages of incremental reading is that your priority valuations change as you read. If the article provides rich and valuable material in the beginning, you can read it in one go. Otherwise, its priority reflected by the current interval (and/or A-Factor) will drop, and you may opt to read it in smaller portions. Each portion read may affect the current priority


Incremental reading is a step towards semantic SuperMemo
(Mark Patterson, USA, Jul 03, 2001)
Question:
SuperMemo introduces new topics and items in the order in which they appear in a collection. I suggest that the future semantic version of SuperMemo could introduce new topics in semantic sequence--starting at the edges of what the student knows and chipping away at unlearned nodes guided by module prerequisites until all target nodes had been mastered
Answer:
Semantic SuperMemo is indeed an important future objective. Please note, however, that the exactly same mechanisms are already implemented as incremental reading. New material is entered into the learning process in proportion, and with the guidance of the current level of understanding. Naturally, it is highly desirable this process be extended to ready-made materials, which is not a trivial undertaking requiring quite a bit of advanced knowledge engineering


You will not lose the big picture with incremental reading
(Mike Condron, USA, Dec 13, 2000)
Question:
Isn't there a risk with incremental reading that I will produce lots of items but lose track of the big picture?
Answer:
This would certainly be the case if SuperMemo did not use optimum spacing of repetitions. Spaced repetition ensures high retention and makes it easy to keep the big picture in memory despite the constant inflow of new data. Actually, this is the main advantage of SuperMemo: you convert lots of disparate pieces of information into a solid model of reality that lives in your memory. All these pieces can be dispersed randomly in your collection like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle; however, they fit into a coherent entirety that stays firmly intact in your mind. In other words, incremental reading is reductionist at the level of knowledge processing, but is holistic at the level of memories stored in your brain


High priority of material or long review intervals will prompt you to run an article preview
(Michal Hejwosz, Poland, Dec 31, 2000)
Question:
What would be a good algorithm for deciding when to preview the whole article before reading (and extracting most important fragments) as opposed to reading it incrementally in a linear sequence?
Answer:
It is difficult to describe a hard-and-fast method. This will require a multi-criterial analysis. Most of the criteria are quite obvious:

  • if you need this knowledge today, you should start with a quick preview and extracting mission-critical fragments

  • if this knowledge is very important and your learning process overflows with repetitions (e.g. you often resort to Postpone), extract-preview will increase your exposure to the article

  • if the article is not very interesting, line-at-a-time reading will be equivalent to assigning a lower priority (you will just read a sentence once per week or once per month and you may never finish the article unless it gets more relevant or interesting)

  • if you believe the article contains very important pieces in its body, you may want to quickly locate these and extract them for separate (more detailed) reading

  • if your reviews occur in very long intervals as a result of slow reading, you may opt for shortening the interval or running a preview of the most important sections instead

  • if you are reading texts from your e-mail tasklist, preview is highly recommended: not all people start their messages with the most important points and you certainly would not want to delay locating paragraphs requiring immediate action with weeks of delay

In summary, these are the most important incentives for the whole-article preview:

  • high priority of the material

  • long inter-review interval

  • indication of higher-priority fragments buried in a lower-priority text 


Optimum time allocation for reading/learning depends on the reader and the material
( Zoran Maximovic, Fri, Aug 03, 2001 7:03)
Question:
When I learn very difficult material, when do you think my efficiency is higher: if I do it in one block of 60 minutes or if I split this into 3 blocks of 20 minutes?
Answer:
The optimum allocation time for reading or learning depends on a number of factors: the article, its importance, its difficulty, the person, his present knowledge, his mood, his circadian cycle, boredom, etc. The optimum allocation of time can vary from seconds to hours! This is one of the factors where the power of incremental reading comes from. For some texts, you may find it difficult to reach reasonable attention levels for longer than a few minutes. Often you can retain your maximum processing power for just a single sentence or paragraph. On other texts that are highly interesting, well written, highly useful or highly important, your curiosity and rage to master may kick in and let you go on for several hours without a break. In incremental reading, the primary criterion for time allocation is your level of concentration. You can literally lick a few hundred articles in a continuous block of time and still keep your mind highly focused and alert. Some articles will be processed in depth, others will be quickly postponed. The concentration criterion is all-inclusive. It includes all factors listed above: difficulty of an article may affect your concentration, your tiredness will always reduce optimum allocations for difficult texts and increase allocations for interesting or enjoyable texts (those who help you "survive" a bad learning day). In conclusion, 3x20 will nearly always differ from 1x60. For boring articles 3x20 will do more. For fascinating articles 1x60 will do more


You can creatively expand on a task by introducing it to incremental reading
(TPS, Aug 07, 2001)
Question:
When should tasks be kept both on the tasklist and in incremental reading?
Answer:
Tasks may be kept in incremental review if you need to access them by priority via the tasklist but still want to work with them using incremental reading techniques. This happens, for example, if you have an idea, and you want to implement it according to its priority on the tasklist, but you still want to creatively expand it in the incremental reading process. This could, for example, be a business plan, points for an article, element of a new design, etc.


Start generating cloze deletions only then when passive review seems insufficient
(Luis Gustavo Neves, Brazil, May 2, 2001)
Question:
I generate many short passages that are reviewed as topics in incremental reading. Can I leave those passages in the learning process indefinitely? If not, what is the best moment to begin generating cloze deletions?
Answer:
You can leave some low-priority material in the passive form. Naturally, this material will gradually become difficult to recall or forgotten. The best moment for using Remember cloze is when you notice that the material becomes volatile. Do not dismember the entire passage (unless it is very important). Pick the most important keyword and create just a single cloze deletion. When the next review of the passage comes, you will be able to determine which other keywords must be used with cloze deletion to prevent forgetting key information. It is very difficult to predict how many clozes you will need to generate to attain perfect recall of the whole passage. On occasion a single cloze suffices. At other times, a single passage can require a dozen clozes!


Scheduling articles for later reading
(P.N., Mon, Apr 22, 2002 8:21)
Question:
I would like to see an option Read later in SuperMemo
Answer:
All articles imported to SuperMemo from the Internet, all individual paragraphs, sections, sentences, clozes and question-answer pairs are scheduled for later review. This is done automatically. You do not need to take any action. You take action only then when you believe a piece of information is not important. In such cases you execute Done, Dismiss or Delete.


Reference labeling works only in HTML components
(M.M., May 22, 2002)
Question:
Sometimes I do not have References submenu on the text component menu. Why?
Answer:
This submenu appears only in HTML components. You can easily upgrade your RTF texts by applying an HTML-based template (e.g. "Article")


Learning a whole website offline
(CMaggio99, Monday, May 06, 2002 1:04 PM)
Question:
I have several hundred lecture notes on my schools web site. What is the best way to import all of them including pictures etc. to my hard drive for offline processing
Answer:
You could try this method: 

  1. download the whole website to your hard disk (e.g. with FTP tools) 
  2. import individual articles with Edit : Add to category : HTML file
  3. remember: do not delete imported parent element to make sure you do not delete files associated with HTML, e.g. pictures. Those files are stored in only one copy. This copy is associated with the parent article

Alternatively you could also: 

  1. download the whole website to your hard disk (e.g. with FTP tools) 
  2. read articles offline in your browser 
  3. paste relevant sections with Ctrl+Alt+N
  4. remember: do not delete the originally downloaded articles to make sure you do not delete files associated with HTML, e.g. pictures). Those files are not copied to SuperMemo collection. SuperMemo leaves only pointers to the original location of these files 

In the first method, original articles will be integrated with your collection. In the second method, they will not (your collection will be smaller and easier to process)


What is incremental reading?
(Sales, Fri, May 24, 2002 1:31)
Question:
Your website mentions incremental reading every second paragraph but I still do not know what it is! Can you provide a short and clear definition?
Answer:
Incremental reading is a way of reading texts in SuperMemo. You read articles in small portions. After you read a portion of one article, you go on to a portion of another article, etc. You introduce all important portions of texts into the learning process in SuperMemo. This way you do not worry that you forget the main thread of the article, even if you return to reading it months later. With incremental reading, you can read literally tens of thousands of articles in parallel. Your progress with individual articles may be slow, but you greatly increase your efficiency by slowing down on less important articles and reading faster the articles that are more beneficial to your knowledge. Difficult articles may wait until you read easier explanatory articles, etc. You retain the learned knowledge thanks to the spaced repetition algorithm used in SuperMemo. Last but not least, incremental reading increases your efficiency because it is fun! You never get bored. If you do not like an article, you read just a sentence and jump to other articles. This way your attention and focus stay maximized. See: Incremental reading


Learning vocabulary with incremental reading (#995)
(Len, Wednesday, May 08, 2002 2:50 PM)
Question:
I am learning Hebrew with incremental reading in this way: I'm extracting individual words whose meaning I don't know. Later, when the extract appears, I look up the meaning and create a Q&A item for it
Answer:
A healthier strategy would be to highlight the word in question and extract it with the whole context sentence. Context is vital in learning vocabulary. You can use the context to formulate examples. Examples are the simplest way to reflect context-semantics relationship in language learning. For example, in Advanced English you have: 

Q: to slide (e.g. about shares) 
A: fall (i.e. decrease in value) 

If you only extracted "slide" while reading about shares, you will find it difficult to choose the correct definition of the multiple basic meanings of the word


Incremental reading of paper books
(flhtc55, Tue, May 28, 2002 15:53)
Question:
What if you have a large number of state of the art reference books. Can they be scanned and converted to text file with OCR software?
Answer:
Having your manuals on paper is a painful handicap. However, that does not render SuperMemo useless. The core repetition spacing technology remains. You can use a combination of these three options: 

  1. Type in only the most vital must-know passages 
  2. Use OCR to generate files that can be processed with incremental reading 
  3. Look for electronic alternatives to portions of texts 

One of the users wrote a few words of his experience with OCR in this article


Background colors in Internet Explorer are used in incremental reading
(Beta, Wincenty, Feb 13, 2002)
Question:
What I do not like in new incremental reading is that font colors do not change upon extracting fragments
Answer:
Instead of font color, background colors are used in HTML-based incremental reading to preserve the original font used in the document. However, for this to work you must uncheck this option in your Internet Explorer: Tools : Internet Options : Accessibility : Formatting : Ignore colors specified on Web pages


You can separate reading from learning
(Beta, Fri, Feb 22, 2002 17:28)
Question:
Is it possible to separate reading from learning?
Answer:
Yes. However, variety is a spice of life. A random mix of reading and repetitions is a very powerful tool in overcoming the monotony of the earlier versions of SuperMemo. Interspersing topics with items provides for many of the advantages of incremental reading as opposed to traditional learning or classical SuperMemo. 

To review topics only (reading) choose (1) View : Outstanding, (2) Child : Topics and then (3) Learning : Learn (Ctrl+Alt+L). To make repetitions (items), act accordingly. 

It might be a better strategy to mix topics and items during the reading phase, and consolidate knowledge by making item-only repetitions later in the day


Mid-interval repetitions on a branch
(Beta, 2/27/02 10:33:56 PM)
Question:
How do I activate forced repetitions for a branch on the knowledge tree?
Answer:

  1. Select the branch in Contents 
  2. Choose Learning : Review on the Process Branch menu

Repeating items before topics (#8601)
(Greg, Feb 22, 2006, 01:18:08)
Question:
I would like to first repeat items and only then repeat topics.
Answer:

  1. Choose View : Outstanding 
  2. Sort repetitions by type (items first) 
  3. Choose Learn on the browser menu to make repetitions or Tools : Save repetitions on the same menu to make sorting permanent

Ideally, in incremental reading, you should have items and topics mixed up. This will help you achieve balance between retention of the old material and the inflow of the new material. By working with items first, you risk slowing down learning by working on high retention. That's a step back to classical SuperMemo


Use Ctrl+] and Ctrl+[ to change the size of the font
(Ben L Hines, Sat, Feb 16, 2002 0:26)
Question:
It would be nice to have a keyboard shortcut to grow and shrink the font
Answer:
Use Ctrl+] and Ctrl+[ to change the size of the font. See also the table of shortcuts in the documentation for other useful combinations


Launching new browser with Open In New Window
(Beta, Feb 15, 2002)
Question:
When I choose Open In New Window over hyperlinks, SuperMemo always opens the page in the same browser. This makes it impossible to open a couple of articles at once. Could you please change that?
Answer:
This behavior depends on the settings in your browser. To change it, choose Tools : Internet Options : Advanced in Internet Explorer and then uncheck Reuse windows for launching shortcuts


Proliferating images in incremental reading
(Beta February ..., February 2002)
Question:
Images do not proliferate in HTML-based incremental reading. Why?
Answer:
Because they are part of the HTML contents. If you miss them on an extract they will not be included. To remedy that click Copy over the image on the browser menu (Edit : Browser menu in case your SuperMemo menu pops up). Press Esc to make sure you are not pasting back to the HTML component. Paste the image from the clipboard to create a separate image component. This component will proliferate in incremental reading to provide your texts with context. Alternatively, and more conveniently, you can use Download images (Ctrl+F8) to do the same on selected pictures embedded in the article


Proliferating remote images in incremental reading
Question:
Storing pictures on remote servers is a great idea but they do not proliferate as in SM2000. Can I have proliferating pictures in image components and still keep them on the remote server?
Answer:
You can have remote pictures proliferate in incremental reading, but you will not use image components for that purpose. Instead, define an additional HTML component and paste the picture from the main text to the newly added HTML field. That field will proliferate in incremental reading and the picture will still be loaded from the remote server


Wrong highlight on Extract
(Beta, Wed, Feb 27, 2002 17:14)
Question:
When I select text and click the "extract and memorize" button on the Read toolbar, sometimes the text is not marked with color. It is extracted, however
Answer:
This is a know problem in SuperMemo 2002. This problem occurs more frequently in rich articles that include tables, multimedia, or remote pictures. Please experiment with HTML filters to resolve this problem in most cases. SuperMemo alleviates the trouble by detecting cases where the document does not load entirely. A prompt message is displayed: "Wait until document loads"


Learning : Review does not work
(Beta, Marcus, Brazil, Sat, Mar 23, 2002 18:46)
Question:
I created some extracts and tried to work with them by choosing Contents : Process branch : Learning : Review. Unfortunately it did not work. Why?
Answer:
Review will consider all elements except dismissed elements and those elements that have already been processed on this particular day. The latter condition makes sure that you can do a comprehensive review in various subsets without duplicating your work on a given day. If you return to the same branch on the next day, the mid-interval review will be possible again


Marking extract with source references
(Beta, 2/27/02 10:33:56 PM)
Question:
How does reference tracking work?
Answer:
Choose options from the Reference menu in the source article to tag the title, author, date, etc. Those tags will then propagate at the bottom of each extract and cloze. Hover your mouse over the Reference link button in the element toolbar to quickly see the reference in longer extracts. Click the same button to go to the source or parent elements


One character selections in cloze
(Beta, Rob, Sun, Feb 17, 2002 14:27)
Question:
Why is the last character selected when extracting a cloze?
Answer:
On one hand it indicates which keyword has just been processed, on the other, selections make it possible to use Enter to move to the next element in repetitions


Enter on selections resumes repetitions
(Beta, Sean, Australia, Fri, Feb 22, 2002 15:46)
Question:
It is annoying when I select some text in RTF or HTML component and press Enter. Instead of putting a new line, SuperMemo automatically begins repetitions
Answer:
This behavior is by design. Enter is your default key used when progressing through the learning cycle. After choosing Cloze or Extract, Enter does not replace the selection in the editor. Instead, it makes it possible to continue the repetitions. Although using Del and Enter instead of just Enter in these circumstances may seem non-standard, you will quickly find this key indispensable in learning. Situations when you use Enter on a selection for editing are by two orders of magnitude less frequent than the typical situation when you proceed with repetitions after using incremental reading tools


Creating cloze deletions contributes to the learning process
(Luis, Brazil, Monday, December 18, 2000 9:05 PM)
Question:
Do you think it is possible to develop a routine to automatically create cloze deletions from a given extract?
Answer:
Even with a dose of artificial intelligence, such a routine would not be of much use due to semantic redundancy and quite a bit of effort that needs to be put in reformulating texts in incremental reading. More importantly, spotting keywords for cloze deletions is the first step in committing the learning material to memory. Eliminating this step would negatively affect learning. Last but not last, converting text to quality cloze deletions is the best part of incremental reading that adds spice to learning and builds motivation. Automatic cloze generator would thus align itself with quick-fix tools (such as sleeping pills, caffeine pills, or diet pills)


Fastest way to change the current category
(Beta, Thursday, March 14, 2002 9:32 AM)
Question:
What is the fastest way to change the current category?
Answer:
You can use Ctrl+Alt+C shortcut or keep the Tools toolbar in view in your layout. In incremental reading, you are more likely to add all your material to your one "To Do" category that stays current all the time. Then you use Category combo in Element Parameters (Ctrl+Shift+P) to incrementally move items to target categories once the items have been completed


Problems with Cloze
(Beta, Mohammad, Pakistan, Thursday, February 28, 2002 4:02 PM)
Question:
1. I have a topic "With cloze you AUTOMATICALLY generate answers" 2. I select Cloze 3. I get: Q: With [...] you AUTOMATICALLY generate answers - [...] (RED) A: Cloze
Answer:
Probably you have applied Cloze twice. The second time it was executed on an item that was a cloze question itself


A-Factors and text length
(Beta, Sat, Mar 16, 2002 8:11)
Question:
If I have read a paragraph from an article and set a read-point, will SuperMemo automatically modify element's A-factor with a new value (i.e. the length of the whole article minus the length of the paragraph I have just read)
Answer:
No. Text length is only used to heuristically propose an A-Factor at import time to free the user from the need to think about A-Factors. The "intensity of reading" will provide a way of prioritizing on its own: the faster you read, the lesser the chance your article will drift to remote intervals. However, once you use Ctrl+Shift+R or Ctrl+J to reschedule the article (e.g. if its interval increases too fast), SuperMemo will notice that action and adjust A-Factor accordingly. Naturally, there is no hard science behind those adjustments. They have been worked out by trial and error. It is also up to the user to get "the feel" of incremental reading to truly understand the consequences of reading vs. postponing a given piece of material


A-Factors of extracted elements will differ
(SuperMemo R&D (Beta), Tue, Apr 09, 2002 12:13)
Question:
I extracted some texts using Remember extract a couple of times and each time A-factors were different
Answer:
A-Factors are basically derived from the length of the text. Long articles will get a very low A-Factor (e.g. 1.1) while short extracts will get a high A-Factor (e.g. 2.9). A-Factor will also be slightly modified depending on the length of the first interval. As intervals are always slightly different from the optimum interval, A-Factors will also differ slightly. For more, read about interval dispersion in the discussion of SuperMemo Algorithm (for example, see Random dispersal of optimal intervals section here)


Some HTML files are kept as plain text in registry
(Beta, Romania, Feb 17, 2002)
Question:
I have some HTML component texts that I tried to located on my hard disk with "Find in file". But some files cannot be found. Why?
Answer:
HTML texts that include no formatting are converted to plain text to save space. These are not kept as HTML files but are part of the text registry only. You will not find them with "Find in file" unless you search through registry files


"To Do" Extract
(Beta, Sweden, Sun, Feb 17, 2002 14:27)
Question:
I would like to see the option: "To Do Extract"
Answer:
All article extract procedures can be considered "To Do". Only the prioritization method differs. You can prioritize via the pending queue, via the learning process or via a tasklist. In the pending queue, extracts are processed FCFS (first come first served). On tasklists, extracts can be prioritized by value/time ratio. However, the best way of prioritizing article extract is via incremental reading (Remember extract). Only this method provides for dynamic prioritization, i.e. extracts are methodically reprioritized depending on the progress and outcome of reading


Customizing cloze font
(Beta, 2/27/02 10:17:58 PM)
Question:
Is there a way to customize the font used to mark text taken out for cloze deletions?
Answer:
You could define a default template for the category in question and check Auto-Apply for that category. If your template uses plain-texts, you can affect the font used for questions and answer in cloze deletions


Default word processor
(Beta, Mon, Feb 25, 2002 18:22)
Question:
On the Read toolbar, Default word processor button is not responding
Answer:
You need to have an Edit association created in your Windows registry for the file format of the currently selected component. If there is no association, the command will be ignored. Rich text components are usually associated with MS Word while HTML components often carry no association. If you associate HTML extensions with your favorite HTML editor (e.g. Expression Web, Dreamweaver, etc.) this button can be used to fine-edit your HTML files. This can come handy on files that are handled poorly by MSHTML editor incorporated in SuperMemo


E-mail element titles
(Beta, Maxim, Tuesday, February 12, 2002 6:30 AM)
Question:
When I import e-mails to SuperMemo, I often get ugly titles like this: 
>>> >>> -----Original Message----- >>> From: MZ [mailto:lw7@poczta.onet.pl]
Answer:
This will happen if you use Ctrl+Alt+N (for article import) instead of Ctrl+Alt+E (dedicated for e-mail import)


You can automate generating simple question-answer elements
(Danielle Kugler, Wednesday, October 24, 2001 11:56 AM )
Question:
My primary use of SuperMemo has been for learning Chinese, which means I add 100-150 words at a time (vocabulary lists). Is there any way to do this in a list format rather than individually generating every card?
Answer:
If you combine the use of Alt+A (add a new item) with Esc (moving between question answer fields), you may discover that SuperMemo is actually the fastest way of adding new material (only one extra keystroke per field plus one keystroke per item - no mouse operations). 

If you already have your lists available as text, the fastest method might be to use incremental reading tools: 

  1. Use Ctrl+Alt+N to paste the text into a new element 
  2. Select individual pairs and choose Remember extract on the Read toolbar
  3. During the review, choose Remember cloze on each pair depending on the priority and availability of time. This method has an added advantages of picking up lots of phrases already at the review stage. See also: Incremental reading

Finally, you can prepare a text file containing question-and-answer pairs like the ones presented below. You can import such a file to SuperMemo with File : Import : Q&A text option: 

Q: Who was the Italian pre-Renaissance painter that painted "Christ Entering Jerusalem"? 
A: Duccio Di Buoninsegna 

Q: When did Duccio Di Buoninsegna live? 
A: 1255-1318 

Q: Of which nationality was Duccio Di Buoninsegna? 
A: Italian 

Q: Where does "Christ Entering Jerusalem" by Duccio Di Buoninsegna hang? 
A: Cathedral Museum in Siena 

Q: Which school was Duccio Di Buoninsegna from? 
A: Sienese, Pre-Renaissance 

Q: What was one of the famous paintings by Duccio Di Buoninsegna? 
A: Christ Entering Jerusalem


Cloze deletions are meant to be born via incremental reading
(bennnyz15, Tuesday, November 06, 2001 2:14 PM)
Question:
I wish SuperMemo would automatically remove the parent of cloze deletions from the testing cycle. It doesn't make sense for the parent to be thrown in into the testing cycle by default
Answer:
Removing the parent of cloze deletions would disable a vital component of incremental reading. Imagine you paste a valuable piece of information into SuperMemo. For example: 

endocr: Angiotensin II causes the adrenal cortex to release aldosterone, and more water reabsorption means an increase in blood pressure

This piece will enter the review process. Once you decide the piece is important enough and you believe you are having a hazy recollection on its contents, you begin generating cloze deletions one by one. Perhaps you will generate only one cloze per review cycle! Ultimately, the above example may generate 9 individual cloze deletions (keywords marked brown). You will then dismiss the parent topic only after you are sure that the generated clozes convey all vital information you decided to remember. Cases were a single cloze is generated from a topic stand in minority. In addition, the cost of Dismiss is just a single key press (Ctrl+D). This is why dismissing parent topics by default is not provided even as an option


Incremental reading is superior to traditional reading in the long run
(SuperMemo R&D (Tech), Fri, Dec 07, 2001 7:42)
Question:
When I read, I usually read very fast through the article and one pass is usually enough. My impression is that I do not need incremental reading
Answer:

  1. In incremental reading you can read even faster. This is because you never have to worry that you skip an important part. If you are not sure you extracted all important details from a piece, you just extract it and introduce it into a future review process. In the future, you will come back to that piece, by which time it may appear already irrelevant and will be deleted 
  2. Memories are always subject to forgetting. Whatever valuable information you gather in incremental reading can be forgotten as much as anything else you learn. Pieces that would be retained without SuperMemo (e.g. through use), produce minimum workload. Other pieces will allow you to never need to come back to the article in question again. In conclusion, all knowledge that you need in the long-run, should be best acquired via incremental reading. Traditional reading can still be used for entertainment, temporary knowledge (e.g. how to install a sound board), curiosity (e.g. news), etc.

Reading lists vs. incremental reading
(L.B., USA, Thursday, January 10, 2002 11:39 PM)
Question:
SuperMemo supports two distinct reading schemes: priority based and incremental. What is your view on the optimum balance?
Answer:
This dichotomy comes from the need to bridge two worlds: the world of knowledge acquisition and the world of knowledge retention. From the historical perspective, this translates to bridging traditional textbook learning with classical SuperMemo (i.e. pure spaced repetition based on active recall). 

With classical SuperMemo, you would work with questions and answers and make sure you keep high retention levels. However, there is still enormous benefit from browsing, search and reading beyond that what can efficiently be stored in memory. Traditional reading produces dismal retention levels. Certainly below 5% for an avid high-volume reader. Still, without SuperMemo, people such as Bill Joy can build impressive bodies of knowledge in their brains. 

SuperMemo 99 attempted to employ the concept of a tasklist to lay the first narrow bridge between these two worlds. On one hand, you would keep on reading. On the other, you would keep on making your repetition. In the middle, you would build a prioritized list of most valuable reading material that you would like to introduce to SuperMemo. 

SuperMemo 2000 broadened the bridge with incremental reading. Between your high volume reading list and low volume repetition stream, you can do a middle volume incremental reading where priorities are adjusted as you keep on reading, while a constant stream of active recall material flows into the classical SuperMemo learning process. With SuperMemo 2000, you still need a reading list to make sure you do not pollute the learning process with a high volume of unprocessed material at the cost of retention. Your reading list is a stopcock that protects the retention of most valuable material. 

However, SuperMemo 2002 or later is armed with priority and content filtering tools that make it possible to add huge volumes of reading material into the incremental reading process without a substantial damage to knowledge retention. You can now fine-tune your daily learning to gradually reduce the flow of new creative reading, reschedule lower priority material and end the day with classical repetitions of the highest priority core knowledge. For experienced users, this practically obviates the reading lists. With filtering tools, you can now strike the optimum balance between the volume and retention and adjust this balance for all individual portions of the learning material depending on its priority


Dismiss should eliminate an element from the learning process
(Art Tsay, Thursday, November 08, 2001 3:11 PM)
Question:
I read an article, extracted some items, and then dismissed it. But when I learn by pressing Ctrl+L, this original article still shows up
Answer:
Dismiss
(Ctrl+D) should make sure you never see the article again in your learning process. If this repeats you might check if you do not accidentally return the article to the learning process with Remember, Drill, or some shortcut combination


Incremental reading is simpler and more efficient than it seems at first
(Eric Thompson, Tuesday, July 16, 2002 12:56 AM)
Question:
You recommend incremental reading for all sorts of text imports but copying and pasting hundreds of items is too much. Is there a way to get the import function to recognize a list?
Answer:
You can always convert your text file to a standard question-answer format and use File : Tools : Import : Q&A Text. However, incremental reading is always a better choice. It will take less time, leave your learning material in a better shape, and leave some memory traces while your prioritize individual pieces of knowledge. There is only one paste operation (the original one). The rest of processing (i.e. Alt+X and Alt+Z) is simultaneous with reading. Once you become fluent with incremental reading, you will also recognize that it is a combination of learning and fun. You will not want to return to dull import again


You can memorize en masse with negligible detriment to the learning process
(lawyer7, Wed, Oct 11, 2000 19:57)
Question:
If I promise myself to learn 30-50 items per day, I usually keep on learning for 7-10 days and then I say "I don't have time" or "I will learn more later", etc. I can find hundreds of excuses to not learn new material. To urge lazybones like me you should add an option which adds to every single day a number of "promised" items. Now I can do this by selecting memorize branch and then the reschedule option, but those items have intervals that are not equal to intervals of newly memorized items
Answer:
SuperMemo 2002 or later is insensitive to delays resulting from automatic memorization of a large number of items. You cannot harm the learning process using your method. You can always shorten the intervals with Ctrl+J (Jump Interval). With Postpone (Ctrl+Alt+P) you will also manage to resolve material overflow (at the cost of retention naturally). With these tools, all you need to focus on is learning and motivation. You do not have to worry about numbers or limits. If you thus reduce the stress load and manage to make learning more fun, your acquisition rate will benefit mainly by the fact that you will be willing to add extra minutes to your daily learning. It is also important to remember, that reduced retention may actually increase your acquisition rate. With sufficient concentration and good quality of the learning material, it is difficult to overload the learning process to the degree when the acquisition rate drops (i.e. when the forgetting index reaches beyond 30%)


Cloze deletions are easy
(Roger , Tuesday, May 06, 2003 10:24 AM)
Question:
I have tried to create cloze deletions. I cannot make the answer field work. After several e-mails back and forth I'm beginning to get rather frustrated
Answer:
Try these steps to get a better feel of cloze deletions in SuperMemo 2002: 

  1. Copy any short text to clipboard 
  2. Press Ctrl+Alt+N to paste the text to a new element in SuperMemo 
  3. Select any keyword in the text (e.g. with the mouse) 
  4. Press Alt+Z to generate a cloze deletion 
  5. Press Alt+Left to move from the pasted text to the newly created cloze deletion (or click the < back button on the element toolbar) 
  6. Press Ctrl+Shift+L to simulate a repetition (this should hide the answer)

The less time you have for learning, the more you will like SuperMemo
(LGN, Brazil, Thursday, June 28, 2001)
Question:
How to use SuperMemo to learning Math, Electronics, Biology and Chemistry, spending only 20 min. a day on these tasks? None of that subjects is a priority to me. How many days would I need for noticeable results?
Answer:
Import relevant articles to incremental reading and use Postpone on material that you do not manage to repeat within your 20 minutes. The visibility of your results will increase with time as is always the case with spaced repetition (and much less the case with unscheduled learning). With well-managed incremental reading, you will meet your time allocations, you will immediately notice a quick buildup of knowledge and, most of all, you will likely enjoy the process. However, incremental reading requires a number of knowledge processing skills that cannot be learned in a day


You can add reference information to your extracts
(louis_lheureux, Canada, Monday, November 18, 2002 3:05 PM)
Question:
I have recently downloaded the JavaScript collection, which presents incremental reading in action. I have noticed that extracts contain very useful reference information (in the pinkish color), which help recover the context of a given extract. What is the way to automatically proliferate reference information in my extracts?
Answer:
In a given article, before you create new extracts, select a text and then choose an appropriate option from the Reference submenu available in the HTML component menu. For example, for the #Title reference, select text, which is the title of a given article, paragraph, etc., and then choose Reference : Title (Alt+T) from the component menu


Copying material from a dictionary
(Rune, Norway, Monday, April 28, 2003 1:38 AM)
Question:
I copy word descriptions from the Collins Cobuilder dictionary and paste them into the answer field. It would be nice, if SuperMemo could create a new learning item and paste the description into the answer field. Now I first have to copy from Collins, create an new element, and paste into the answer field
Answer:
The best way to handle dictionary items is to paste the entire item to SuperMemo with Ctrl+Alt+N. Then extract individual definitions along with the headword with Alt+X. Finally, while learning individual definitions, create individual passive, active or detail items with Alt+Z

Here is an example of learning the meaning of the word trachea. Although there are 19 items on the output, not all these items are necessary to extract the basic meaning of the word. For that reason, the process can be executed incrementally. More specialized meaning can be refined in more advanced stages of learning.

  1. You start with the definition pasted from www.dictionary.com

tra�che�a  ( P )  Pronunciation Key  [trey-kee-uh or, especially Brit., truh-kee-uh]
n. pl. tra�che�ae [trey-kee-ee or, especially Brit., truh-kee-ee] or tra�che�as

  1. Anatomy. A thin-walled, cartilaginous tube descending from the larynx to the bronchi and carrying air to the lungs. Also called windpipe.
  2. Zoology. One of the internal respiratory tubes of insects and some other terrestrial arthropods.
  3. Botany. One of the tubular conductive vessels in the xylem of vascular plants.
  1. In SuperMemo, you clean up the definition to ensure only vital information is included:
trachea   
  1. Anatomy. A thin-walled, cartilaginous tube descending from the larynx to the bronchi and carrying air to the lungs. Also called windpipe.
  2. Zoology. One of the internal respiratory tubes of insects and some other terrestrial arthropods.
  3. Botany. One of the tubular conductive vessels in the xylem of vascular plants.
  1. With Alt+X you generate three extracts:
trachea   Anatomy. A thin-walled, cartilaginous tube descending from the larynx to the bronchi and carrying air to the lungs. Also called windpipe

trachea   Zoology. One of the internal respiratory tubes of insects and some other terrestrial arthropods