Adding Cards and Notes

Recall from the basics that in Anki we add notes rather than cards, and Anki creates cards for us. Click 'Add' in the main window, and the Add Notes window will appear.

The top left of the window shows us the current note type. If it does not say “Basic,” then you may have added some note types when you downloaded a shared deck. The text below assumes that “Basic” is selected.

The top right of the window shows us the deck cards will be added to. If you’d like to add cards to a new deck, you can click on the deck name button and then click “Add”.

Below the note type, you’ll see some buttons, and an area labeled “Front” and “Back”. Front and Back are called 'fields', and you can add, remove and rename them by clicking the “Fields…​” button above.

Below the fields is another area labelled “Tags”. Tags are labels that you can attach to your notes, to make organizing and finding notes easier. You can leave the tags blank if you wish, or add one or more of them. Tags are separated by a space. If the tags area says

vocab check_with_tutor

…​then the note you add would have two tags.

When you’ve entered text into the front and back, you can click the “Add” button or press Ctrl+Enter (Command+Enter on a Mac) to add the note to your collection. When you do so, a card will be created as well, and placed into the deck you chose. If you’d like to edit a card you added, you can click the history button to search for a recently added card in the browser.

Anki checks the first field for uniqueness, so it will warn you if you enter two cards with a Front field of “apple” (for example). The uniqueness check is limited to the current note type, so if you’re studying multiple languages, two cards with the same Front would not be listed as duplicates as long as you had a different note type for each language.

Anki doesn’t check for duplicates in other fields automatically for efficiency reasons, but the browser has a “Find Duplicates” function which you can run periodically.

For more information on the buttons between the note type and the fields, please see the editor section.

Different people like to review in different ways, but there are some general concepts to keep in mind. An excellent introduction is this article on the SuperMemo site. In particular:

  • Keep it simple: The shorter your cards, the easier they are to review. You may be tempted to include lots of information “just in case,” but reviews will quickly become painful.

  • Don’t memorize without understanding: If you’re studying a language, try to avoid large lists of words. The best way to learn languages is in context, which means seeing those words used in a sentence. Likewise, imagine you’re studying a computer course. If you attempt to memorize the mountain of acronyms, you’ll find it very difficult to make progress. But if you take the time to understand the concepts behind the acronyms, learning the acronyms will become a lot easier.

Adding a Note Type

While basic note types are sufficient for simple cards with only a word or phrase on each side, as soon as you find yourself wanting to include more than one piece of information on the front or back, it’s better to split that information up into more fields.

You may find yourself thinking "but I only want one card, so why can’t I just include the audio, a picture, a hint and the translation in the Front field?" If you’d prefer to do that, that’s fine. But the disadvantage of that approach is that all the information is stuck together. If you wanted to sort your cards by the hint, you wouldn’t be able to do that as it’s mixed in with the other content. You also wouldn’t be able to do things like move the audio from the front to the back, except by laboriously copying and pasting it for every note. By keeping content in separate fields, you make it much easier to adjust the layout of your cards in the future.

To create a new type of note, choose Tools → Manage Note Types from the main Anki window. Then click “Add” to add a new type of note. You’ll now see another screen that gives you a choice of note types to base the new type on. “Add” means to base the newly created type on one that comes with Anki. “Clone” means to base the newly created type on one that is already in your collection. For instance, if you’d created a French vocab type already, you might want to clone that when creating a German vocab type.

After choosing OK, you’ll be asked to name the new type. The subject material you’re studying is a good choice here – things like “Japanese”, ”Trivia”, and so on. Once you’ve chosen a name, close the Note Types window, and you’ll return to the adding window.

Customizing Fields

To customize fields, click the “Fields…​” button when adding or editing a note, or while the note type is selected in the Manage Note Types window.

You can add, remove, or rename fields by clicking the appropriate buttons. To change the order in which the fields appear in this dialog and the add notes dialog, you can use the reposition button, which asks for the numerical position you want the field to have. So if you want to change a field to be the new first field, enter “1”.

Do not use 'Tags', 'Type', 'Deck', 'Card', or 'FrontSide' as field names, as they are special fields and will not work properly.

The options at the bottom of the screen allow you to edit various properties of the fields to be used when adding and editing the cards. This is not where you customize what appears on your cards when reviewing; for that, please see templates.

Editing Font allows you to customize the font and size used when editing notes. This is useful if you want to make unimportant information smaller, or increase the size of foreign characters which are hard to read. The changes you make here do not affect how cards appear when reviewing: to do that, please see the templates section. If you have enabled the “type in the answer” function, however, the text you type will use the font size defined here. (For information about how to change the actual font face when typing the answer, please see the checking your answer section.)

Sort by this field…​ tells Anki to show this field in the Sort Field column of the browser. You can use this to sort cards by that field. Only one field can be the sort field at once.

When Remember last input…​ is checked, Anki will not clear out this field’s content after a note is added. If you find yourself entering the same content into multiple notes, you may find this useful.

Reverse text direction is useful if you are studying languages that display text from right to left (RTL), such as Arabic or Hebrew. This setting currently only controls editing; to make sure the text displays correctly during review, you’ll need to adjust your template.

After you’ve added fields, you’ll probably want to add them to the front or back of your cards. For more information on that, please see the templates section.

Changing Deck / Note Type

While adding, you can click on the top left button to change note type, and the top right button to change deck. The window that opens up will not only allow you to select a deck or note type, but also to add new decks or manage your note types.

Using Decks Appropriately

Decks are designed to divide your content up into broad categories that you wish to study separately, such as English, Geography, and so on. You may be tempted to create lots of little decks to keep your content organized, such as “my geography book chapter 1”, or “food verbs”, but this is not recommended, for the following reasons:

  • Lots of little decks mean you end up reviewing cards in a recognizable order. Whether it’s because you’re clicking on each deck in turn (which is slow) or you’ve added a number of decks under a single parent deck, you’ll end up seeing all the “chapter 1” or “food verb” cards together. This makes it easier to answer the cards, as you can guess them from the context, which leads to weaker memories. When you need to recall the word or phrase outside Anki, you won’t have the luxury of being shown related content first!

  • While less of a problem than it was in earlier Anki versions, adding hundreds of decks may cause slowdowns, and very large deck trees with thousands of items can actually break the display of the deck list in the current implementation.

Instead of creating lots of little decks, it’s a better idea to use tags and/or fields to classify your content. Instead of creating a “food verbs” decks for example, you could add those cards to your main language study deck, and tag the cards with “food” and “verb”. Each card can have multiple tags, which means you can do things like search for all verbs, or all food-related vocabulary, or all verbs that are related to food.

For those who like to stay very organized, you can add fields to your notes to classify your content, such as “book”, “page”, and so on. Anki supports searching in specific fields, which means you can do a search for “book:'my book' page:63” and immediately find what you’re looking for.

Anki’s custom study and filtered deck features make this especially powerful, as you can create temporary decks out of search terms. This allows you to review your content mixed together in a single deck most of the time (for optimum memory), but also create temporary decks when you need to focus on particular material, such as before a test. The general rule is that if you always want to be able to study some content separately, it should be in a normal deck, and if you only occasionally need to be able to study it separately (for a test, when under a backlog, etc), tags/fields and filtered decks are better.


The editor is shown when adding notes, editing a note during reviews, or browsing.

On the top left are two buttons, which open the fields and cards windows.

On the right are buttons that control formatting. Bold, italic and underline work like they do in a word processing program. The next two buttons allow you to subscript or superscript text, which is useful for chemical compounds like H2O or simple math equations like x2.

The Fx button clears any formatting in the currently selected text. This includes colors, bold, etc.

The next two buttons allow you to change text color.

The […​] button is visible when a cloze note type is selected.

You can use the paperclip button to select audio, images and videos from your computer’s hard drive to attach to your notes. Alternatively, you can copy the media onto your computer’s clipboard (for instance, by right-clicking an image on the web and choosing 'Copy Image') and paste it into the field that you want to place it in. For more information about media, please see the media section.

The microphone icon allows you to record from your computer’s microphone and attach the recording to the note.

The last button shows more advanced features, such as editing the underlying HTML of a field, and shortcuts to add MathJax or LaTeX to your notes.

Most of the buttons have shortcut keys. You can hover the mouse cursor over a button to see its shortcut.

When pasting text, Anki will keep most formatting by default. If you hold down the Shift key while pasting, Anki will strip most of the formatting. Under Preferences, you can toggle "Paste without shift key strips formatting" to modify the default behavior.

Cloze Deletion

'Cloze deletion' is the process of hiding one or more words in a sentence. For example, if you have the sentence:

Canberra was founded in 1913.

…​and you create a cloze deletion on “1913”, then the sentence would become:

Canberra was founded in [...].

Sometimes sections that have been removed in this fashion are said to be 'occluded'.

For more information on why you might want to use cloze deletion, see rule number 5 here.

Anki provides a special cloze deletion type of note, to make creating clozes easy. To create a cloze deletion note, select the Cloze note type, and type some text into the "Text" field. Then drag the mouse over the text you want to hide to select it, and click the […​] button. Anki will replace the text with:

Canberra was founded in {{c1::1913}}.

The “c1” part means that you’ve created one cloze deletion on the sentence. You can create more than one deletion if you’d like. For example, if you select Canberra and click […​] again, the text will now look like:

{{c2::Canberra}} was founded in {{c1::1913}}.

When you add the above note, Anki will create two cards. The first card will show:

Canberra was founded in [...].

…​on the question, with the full sentence on the answer. The other card will have the following on the question:

[...] was founded in 1913.

You can also elide multiple sections on the same card. In the above example, if you change c2 to c1, only one card would be created, with both Canberra and 1913 hidden. If you hold down Alt (Option on a Mac) while creating a cloze, Anki will automatically use the same number instead of incrementing it.

Cloze deletions don’t need to fall on word boundaries, so if you select “anberra” rather than “Canberra” in the above example, the question would appear as “C[…​] was founded in 1913”, giving you a hint.

You can also give yourself hints that don’t match the text. If you replace the original sentence with:

Canberra::city was founded in 1913

…​and then press […​] after selecting "Canberra::city", Anki will treat the text after the two colons as a hint, changing the text into:

{{c1::Canberra::city}} was founded in 1913

When the card comes up for review, it will appear as:

[city] was founded in 1913.

For information on testing your ability to type in a cloze deletion correctly, please see the section on typing answers.

Please note that overlapping clozes are not supported. For example, the following field is invalid:

{{c1::Canberra was {{c2::founded}}}} in 1913

If you need to create clozes from overlapping text, add another Text field to your cloze, add it to the template, and then when creating notes, paste the text into two separate fields, like so:

Text1 field: {{c1::Canberra was founded}} in 1913

Text2 field: {{c2::Canberra}} was founded in 1913

The default cloze note type has a second field called Extra, that is shown on the answer side of each card. It can be used for adding some usage notes or extra information.

The cloze note type is treated specially by Anki, and cannot be created based on a regular note type. If you wish to customize it, please make sure to clone the existing Cloze type instead of another type of note. Things like formatting can be customized, but it is not possible to add extra card templates to the cloze note type.

Inputting Foreign Characters and Accents

All modern computers have built in support for typing accents and foreign characters, and multiple ways to go about it. The method we recommend is using a keyboard layout for the language you want to learn.

Languages with a separate script like Japanese, Chinese, Thai and so on have their own layouts specifically for that language.

European languages that use accents may have their own layout, but can often by typed on a generic "international keyboard" layout. These work by typing the accent, then the character you want accented - eg an apostrophe (') then the letter a (a) gives á.

To add the international keyboard on Windows machines, please see

To add it on Macs, please see

Keyboards for a specific language are added in a similar way, but we can not cover them all here. For more information, please try searching Google for "input Japanese on a mac", "type Chinese on Windows 10", and so on.

If you’re learning a right to left language, there are lots of other things to consider. Please see this page for more information.

The toolkit Anki is built on has trouble dealing with a few input methods, such as holding down keys to select accented characters on Mac OS X, and typing characters by holding down the Alt key and typing a numeric code on Windows.

Unicode Normalization

Text like á can be represented in multiple ways on a computer, such as using a specific code for that symbol, or by using a standard a and then another code for the accent on top. This causes problems when mixing input from different sources, or using different computers - if your computer handles keyboard input in one form, but the content is stored in a different form, it will not match when searching, even though the end result appears identical.

To ensure content can easily be found in searches, Anki normalizes the text to a standard form. For most users this process is transparent, but if you are studying certain material like archaic Japanese symbols, the normalization process can end up converting them to a more modern equivalent.

If you want character variants preserved, the following in the debug console will turn off normalization:

mw.col.conf["normalize_note_text"] = False

Any content added after that will remain untouched. The trade-off is that you may find it difficult to search for the content if you're switching between operating systems, or pasting content from mixed sources.