Using Incremental Reading For Fast Anki Sentence Creation

Studying sentences is one of the central pillars of the JALUP method. However, when you decide to enter sentence creation on your own, finding and inputting sentences isn’t the easiest thing to do. You could read a block of text and copy and paste lines from it into Anki, but that takes a lot of time and can be boring. You could use an eReader to highlight sentences as you read, export the highlights, and then import them into Anki. Or, you could use Incremental Reading.

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Incremental Reading allows us to read a block of text and mark off sentences as we go. Those marked sentences are automatically converted into Anki cards, which we can then edit and study. No need to copy and paste, and no need to bother with finding eReaders and figuring out how to export highlights from them.

As a cherry on top, Incremental Reading offers a queue and shuffler. When you get bored with one piece of text, Incremental Reading will show you another. No more precious few seconds wondering what to read next; continuing to read has been made easier, allowing us to read more.

Sound good? Then let me show you how to get started.

Installing

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First, open the Anki window. Click on Tools->Add-Ons->Browse and Install. When a new window opens up, click ‘Browse.’ This will take you to the Anki Add-Ons page. Search for an Add-On that begins with ‘Incremental Reading.’

Click on the link, then scroll down to the ‘Download’ section. Copy the numerical code into Anki, then click ‘OK.’

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After waiting for the Add-On to install, restart Anki. To check if the Add-On properly installed, open up the Tools dialogue box. If you see labels for ‘Incremental Reading Organizer’ and ‘Incremental Reading Scheduler Options,’ you’re on your way!

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Configuring

First thing’s first, go to Tools->Preferences and make sure that ‘Strip HTML when pasting text’ is enabled (it should be by default). If you don’t do this, HTML formatting will appear when you do your reviews. Not only will these cards override your model formatting, they’ll stick out like a sore thumb.

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When you’re done, click on the ‘Close’ button.

Next, I highly recommending creating two storage decks separate from your main deck: one for Incremental Reading cards, and one for the sentences extracted from Incremental Reading. Incremental Reading reviews are very different from normal reviews, and should be kept separate. Furthermore, I’ve found that trying to look up definitions and create cards while reading breaks my workflow too much to be enjoyable. To create a deck, click on the ‘Create Deck’ button on the bottom of Anki’s main screen.

Now, to configure Incremental Reading, click on Edit->Create Add Cards Shortcut in the main Anki header.

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  1. In the ‘Deck’ field, choose the deck that you want to extract cards into. I highly recommend you select your storage deck.
  2. In the ‘Model’ field, choose the model of your Japanese sentence cards.
  3. In the ‘Paste Text to Field’ field, make sure that you’re pasting text to ‘Expression’ instead of ‘Reading’ or ‘Meaning.’
  4. The Key Combination field is pretty self-explanatory. Input the keys that you’d like to press in order to extract cards
  5. The color field accepts basic colors (red, blue, yellow) and hexadecimal color codes (#99ff66).
  6. If you’re doing what I suggest and will edit cards on the fly, make sure that the ‘Add Cards’ and ‘Edit Current’ boxes are left unchecked.
  7. If you want to disable a set of keystrokes, put in the Key Combination of the shortcut that you’d like to disable, then uncheck the ‘Enable’ box.

When you’re done, click on the ‘Save’ buttom.

Adding

Now, we need some text. If you’re just starting out, here is where you would break out your digital textbook with text that can be copied and pasted. If you are more advanced, here is where you break out your webpages or eBooks.

For this demonstration, I will be using Japanese Wikipedia’s articles on Anki and the Japanese Language. Here’s how it looks in practice:

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  1. Make sure that the type of the note is IRead2. If the type isn’t IRead2, click on the button in the red rectangle, select IRead2 when a new window pops open, then click on ‘Choose.’
  2. Make sure that the deck is your Incremental Reading deck (which I have named ‘Incremental Reading’). Again, if the deck isn’t ‘Incremental Reading,’ click on the button in the blue rectangle, select ‘Incremental Reading’ when a new window pops open, then click on ‘Choose.’
  3. The Title field is self-explanatory; just put whatever title you feel is best.
  4. Paste the text you want to extract from into the Text field.
  5. The Source field is optional. If you’re adding multiple cards, whatever you put in ‘Source’ will automatically be filled in for the next cards.
  6. Enter whatever Tags you’d like here. Any cards extracted from this block of text will share these tags.

When everything looks good, click on the ‘Add’ button.

Extracting

Now, select your ‘Incremental Reading’ deck, and press ‘Study Now.’

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If the text size is too small for your liking, you can press Ctrl and + simultaneously to zoom in, and Ctrl and – simultaneously to zoom out.

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To extract text, first select it by clicking and holding the mouse, then press the key combination you entered in the ‘Adding’ section. If everything goes according to plan, your window should look this.

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If for some reason you want to remove the highlighting, press the little # at the end of the sentence to remove it. This might happen, for example if you’re splitting a sentence into two halves that share a word between them.

When you’re done extracting and want to switch to another block of text, click on ‘Show Answer’ (or press Spacebar).

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After pressing ‘Soon’ or ‘Later’ (hotkeys: 1 and 2), your next piece of text should pop up, if you have added any others.

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If you’re finished with a piece of text, delete it by pressing on the ‘Delete’ key or by clicking on More->Delete Note.

Processing

Open up the Browse window and select your Storage deck. If everything worked, you should see something like this:

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Note that the tag – Japanese_Wikipedia – was automatically copied to the extracted sentence. Also note that the text Expression field has a font size that’s a bit too big. That’s okay; that’s simply because we zoomed in. If you select and deselect the Expression field, the field will revert to normal size.

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You will most likely do this anyway in order to copy and paste a vocabulary word into your dictionary of choice.

After filling out the Meaning field to your liking, select the card(s) in the Browse window and click Change Deck. When a new window pops up, select your main deck, then click ‘Move Cards.’

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If all goes according to plan, the new card will appear in your reviews when you go to study.

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Once you’ve reached this point, you are done!

Dominating

Although the initial configuration is a hassle, the time saved in adding cards will more than make up for the startup cost. In addition, having text ‘on hand’ to read is extremely helpful. I have absent-mindedly stopped reviewing and switched over to Incremental Reading many times. With Incremental Reading, I read more, which then lets me add more, which lets me learn more, which makes me read more, in a virtuous cycle of Japanese domination.

If you have any problems with the configuration, don’t hesitate to leave comments. I will attempt to troubleshoot as well as I can.



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Hiiaka

Hiiaka

College student. Frequented JALUP even when he was studying Mandarin. Spends too much time stressing about Japanese and too little time studying Japanese.

Comments

Using Incremental Reading For Fast Anki Sentence Creation — 10 Comments

  1. This seems so confusing and complicated I don’t even know what’s going on. No thanks, I’ll stick with the 10k sentences method, which has proven to work for many people

    • If you’re asking about Incremental Reading, it’s a nifty feature of SuperMemo that has had an Anki port for the last four years or so. With it, we can create sentence cards very quickly. SuperMemo’s explanation can be found here:
      https://www.supermemo.com/help/read.htm

      If you’re asking about this article, it’s a step-by-step guide on how to configure and start using Incremental Reading in Anki.

      If you have no idea what’s going on, I can try to explain things again, if you’d like.

  2. Thanks a lot for the Article!
    I have thought alot about using incremental reading for various things, but the usual explanations make it sound way more difficult than this :)

  3. > SuperMemo’s explanation can be found here: https://www.supermemo.com/help/read.htm

    Ah, that SuperMemo article helps a lot with context. I also wasn’t really sure what “incremental reading” was, but now have a general idea.

    As far as using it for Japanese study, I’m still not sure I fully grok the process. So you’re essentially pasting in entire articles, then as you read them you’re pulling out important bits and pieces to make cards with?

    Doesn’t this get tricky when a sentence has many unknown pieces? Does it track your progress as you go? Also, how does this interplay with your “normal” Anki cards?

    I also don’t quite get how this helps to read “thousands of articles at once”, which the SuperMemo article mentions, but that’s a bit beside the point I guess.

    I’d also be curious to hear your opinion about the various browser plugins and so on that can extract text from sites and make cards automatically. This seems very similar to that, with the major difference I guess being that you’re reading articles within Anki in this case, right?

    Anyway, thanks for the article! Seems like a very interesting process… if a bit intimidating :D

  4. > So you’re essentially pasting in entire articles, then as you read them you’re pulling out important bits and pieces to make cards with?
    Pretty much, yes.

    > Doesn’t this get tricky when a sentence has many unknown pieces?
    Yes. If a sentence has many unknowns, I usually break the sentence up into several cards, one for each unknown. k+1, and all that.

    > Does it track your progress as you go?
    What you’ve extracted gets highlighted, so you know not to reread that part. In addition, when you continue reading a piece of text, the extension (usually) automatically scrolls to where you stopped off.

    > Also, how does this interplay with your “normal” Anki cards?
    I usually keep Incremental Reading cards and ‘normal’ Anki cards in separate decks, so they don’t interact.

    If you put normal cards and Incremental Reading cards in the same deck (or in subdecks of the same superdeck), Incremental Reading cards act just like regular new cards.

    I’m wary of putting Incremental Reading cards in the same deck as normal cards, though. All of your normal cards will show up in the Incremental Reading Scheduler, and Incremental Reading seems to override their normal due dates. (Don’t worry if this paragraph didn’t make sense.)

    > I also don’t quite get how this helps to read “thousands of articles at once”, which the SuperMemo article mentions, but that’s a bit beside the point I guess.
    The SuperMemo article seems to be referring to SRS’s in general, and Incremental Reading helps create those cards. I guess that ‘showing a flashcard occasionally’ counts as ‘reading’ for them.

    > I’d also be curious to hear your opinion about the various browser plugins and so on that can extract text from sites and make cards automatically. This seems very similar to that, with the major difference I guess being that you’re reading articles within Anki in this case, right?
    The only extractor I’ve found is Rikaisama’s Real Time Import addon. Although it adds definitions automatically, I don’t use it because it only extracts words, not sentences. Are there others?

    Yes, this is very similar to browser text extractors. There are other fancier features (highlighting without adding cards, extracting to another Incremental Reading card), but I don’t use them.

    • Cool, this helps a lot — thanks again!

      > The only extractor I’ve found is Rikaisama’s Real Time Import addon. Although it adds definitions automatically, I don’t use it because it only extracts words, not sentences. Are there others?

      I actually haven’t used any of these tools myself, which is part of the reason why I’m curious about them. I’ve mostly taken the masochistic by-hand card creation route, though recently I’ve picked up some of the Jalup decks as well. (Which are awesome, btw.)

    • >The only extractor I’ve found is Rikaisama’s Real Time Import addon. Although it adds definitions automatically, I don’t use it because it only extracts words, not sentences. Are there others?

      Actually you can extract sentences into anki using Rikaisama. You just have to edit the “Save Format” section and add the desired save tokens you want. The default is $d$t$r$t$n

      $d = dictionary form
      $t = tab
      $r = reading
      $n = definition

      If you want to add the option of auto adding sentences, just add $s or $b if you want the sentence with a blank where the word was supposed to be. The have the save format keys in that page too. Here is an example of how I used it with this format using a Japanese definition mode (press O at the hover word) .

      噴火 ふんか (n,vs,adj-no) 〈スル〉 火山が爆発して,溶岩や火山灰をふき出すこと. 鹿児島県の口永良部島では、ことし5月29日に大きな噴火がありました。

      Source: http://www3.nhk.or.jp/news/easy/k10010352321000/k10010352321000.html

      td; lr: Add “$d$t$r$t$n$t$s” to the Save Format without the quotation marks.

  5. This is the first time of heard of incremental reading. It sounds interesting and I would like to give it try. Does anyone have good sources for getting articles? http://www3.nhk.or.jp/news/easy/ and Coscom.co.jp seem like good starting places. I like the idea of using encyclopedia articles but I think ja.wikipedia.org might be a bit over my head. I found poplardia.net which seems to require a subscription. Has anyone used this? Does anyone know of a good online children’s encyclopedia?

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