Using Anki for Learning Stenography

From Plover Wiki

What is Anki

Anki is a flashcard program that uses spaced repetition. The basic idea is that if the card is easy you will see it less often, and if the card is hard you will see it more often. Anki does not grade you automatically — you have full control.

It can be useful for learning many things, and for steno people have used it for memorising briefs and theory rules.

Setting up Anki

  1. Download from here:
  2. Make your own deck or use a pre-made deck

Making your own deck

Making your own deck allows you to have greater control over the cards (e.g. what briefs)

The most basic way is to use the default deck and add cards to it. "Front" and "Back" can be whatever you want, though most people put the translation on the front and the steno stroke on the back.

Custom Fields

Instead of just "Front" and "Back", you might want more fields like "Pseudo Steno", "Stroke Diagram", "Notes" etc.

  1. Add a new note type so that it won't interfere with anything else you might use Anki for
  2. Customise the fields and add whatever you want
  3. Add the new fields to the card template (see custom cards)

Custom Cards

The default cards have the "Front" field, and when you answer it shows the "Back" field, as well as a reverse card. If you want to show more fields, you'll have to customise your card.

See the anki docs here, including the next few pages, for how to do this.

Particular things that are useful for steno are:

{{tts en_US:Front}}

Read out the text of the card, which is useful if you want to practice from dictation. You can also use the AwesomeTTS add-on for more voices.

in the card:

<span class="diagram">{{Strokes}}</span>

in the styling:

<syntaxhighlight lang="css">.diagram {
 font-family: "Stenodisplay Classic"

There are lots of ways you can style your fields, like making the notes smaller or colour coding your fields.

The example here uses Kaoffie's Steno Font, which uses a font for the steno strokes to make it into a stroke diagram. You may want to install the font into Anki if you can't install fonts on your computer or if you want a portable Anki deck.


Type out the field and when you turn the card over it will color code any differences. Some people like to check the translation field, some people like to turn off their dictionaries and check for the strokes.

You might want a separate field for checking, since you may want prefix/suffix cards like "{^ing}" but what you type out is actually "ing". Anki does not use this to pick the rating of the card.

It is also possible to hide the text you are typing by adding the following to your styling. This might be useful if you want to focus on trusting your muscle memory.

  /* options are disc, circle, square, none */
 -webkit-text-security: disc;

Pre-made Decks

Useful Anki Add-ons

Anki Add-ons are third party extensions that add features to anki. To install them, go to Tools -> Add-ons -> Get Add-ons.

  • Automatic Scoring
    • Automatically selects the difficulty of the card based on how long it took to answer it
    • You still have to press "enter" to confirm, so you still have full control
    • You may want to adjust the default time to something different. You can show the answer timer and look at your answer button graph to get an idea of what a reasonable time might be.
    • Pairs well with Advanced Review Bottom Bar which makes it easier to see which button has been pre-selected.
  • Anki Connect
  • Find Missing Words
    • Paste in a block of text and this will help you find words you don't have cards for
  • Anki Simulator
    • Simulates your reviews over time. Useful for choosing settings (e.g. number of new cards a day) that won't overwhelm you. (You can see how long you take per card that day in the Stats window or below the list of decks, and use this to see how many repetitions you want)
  • Persistent Editor (doesn't work with latest Anki version)
    • Keeps the editing window open while reviewing (but hides the current card until you've answered it). Useful if you are using a pre-made deck and prefer different briefs to the ones that are there.
  • Mini Format Pack
    • Gives you more formatting options in the menu. Useful for making lists of alternative strokes, or other formatting
  • AwesomeTTS
    • Gives you access to a range of TTS voices and human recorded voices (Forvo).
  • Copy selection field
    • Lets you copy several selected entries in the Anki browse window, for example to copy into a practice tool like Steno Jig or Typey Type.

Useful Plover Extensions

  • Plover Cards
    • Requires Anki Connect
    • See previously typed words/phrases, sorted by various properties (e.g. last used, most used), choose your preferred stroke and add them into Anki.
    • Command to quickly bring up the last X words you typed and their suggestions in an Anki "Add Card" window
  • Spectra Lexer
    • Analyzes strokes and generates stroke diagrams (click save). Useful for having stroke diagrams which explain the stroke.