RemNote offers two sets of commands for creating flashcards. One set <<, >> and <> creates basic flashcards in different directions. Another set :: and ;; creates Concept and Descriptor cards respectively.

What are Basic Flashcards?

A basic card most closely resembles standard physical cards. Each gives the user a prompt (the question side of the card) and asks them to fill in an answer (the answer side).

In RemNote, these can be created with the commands >>, <<, and <>, which determine the direction of the card. To create one, type the prompt, then >> followed by the answer.

For a Reverse Card where the Rem begins with the answer followed by the prompt, type the answer, then <<, followed by the prompt.

Finally, for a bi-directional card, which tests you in either direction, use <> between two answers/prompts.

The direction of cards can also be changed by clicking on the arrow in your notes and selecting a different option from the three at the bottom. It also shows you a small preview of the card on the right.

What are Concept and Descriptor Cards?

Concept and Descriptor cards are slightly more advanced flashcards that come with all the basic functionalities of Basic Cards plus some significant formatting differences.

Creating a Concept Card

To make a Concept Card, write the concept, then :: , followed by a brief explanation of it. You will see that the concept automatically becomes bold, and the card is automatically bi-directional. This is because you will want to be both able to understand the Concept and identify it based on the description

Creating a Descriptor Card

To make a Descriptor Card, start by making a child Rem for a Concept Rem. Write out the descriptor for this concept, then ;; , followed by the description. The Descriptor is automatically Italicised and the card is a standard forward basic card.

You can also create either card type by transforming a basic card into them with the dropdown menu in the bottom left or the pop-up when you click on the arrow (see above).

Thus the main visible difference between these and basic cards is the formatting and the automatic direction of the cards based on type.

Why use Concept and Descriptor Cards?

Structure your Thinking

Using these cards is about more than just testing yourself on subjects, but is about organizing your thoughts and ideas.

Concepts are meant to be key points to retain and understand, many of which can and will have component Concepts of their own. While Descriptors become ways to understand, distinguish, and analyze those concepts. For example, in notes on infectious diseases, each disease could be a Concept, with Descriptors for vectors, symptoms, and so forth. But a list of symptoms might also include references to Concepts explained elsewhere in your notes.

The Concept/Descriptor formatting is an in-built way to structure your thinking, with noticeable formatting differences to help visually distinguish information. The shortcuts :: and ;; help make following that formatting easy.

There are some other differences, however that might not be as obvious.

Searching for Concepts and Descriptors

Concepts and Descriptors are also labelled differently within RemNote’s search functionalities. When you search for a term, concepts appear with a little light bulb next to them. Descriptors will appear with the arrow icon.

This helps you quickly find and identify the information you need.

You can also alter a search so that it ONLY searches for Concepts. As your Knowledge Base grows in size, this can be essential for quickly finding the key information you need.

Descriptor Card Details

There are also some additional advantages to Descriptors. When you reference a Descriptor, you are shown the parent Concept for further context. Helping you track both the detail and what it refers to.

Additionally, if you reverse the direction of a Descriptor Card, when you test yourself on it later, instead of testing you on either side of the descriptor card, it shows you both and tests you on the Concept above it. You are given the description and have to answer what it refers to.

For example, it is not nearly as important to know that High Blood Pressure is a symptom, but much more important to know that it is a symptom of Atherosclerosis!

Which should you use?

So which shortcut should you use when making a flashcard?

  • If it is a crucial concept or significant idea, the Concept card will help you find it later and make it stand out.

  • If you provide further detail on an existing Concept, the Descriptor Card will help you clarify it.

  • If you are making dozens of nearly identical cards with no great significance in the structure of your ideas (for example, 6 cards for each of 4 different tense conjugations of the same verb) the basic card will do just fine.

Ultimately, how you want to organize your notes is up to you. You can take advantage of the structures supported by the Concept Descriptor Framework or ignore them entirely.

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