Creating Flashcards

Flashcards allow you to easily and efficiently memorize the most important information in your notes.

Soren Bjornstad avatar
Written by Soren Bjornstad
Updated over a week ago

In RemNote, any Rem (bullet point) can be turned into a flashcard, allowing you to easily and efficiently memorize the most important information in your notes.

This article explains all the types of flashcards RemNote offers in some detail. If you haven't created any flashcards at all yet, start with the Flashcard Basics article to get the basics down first, then come back here!

RemNote supports several types of flashcards:

  • Type >> or == to create a Basic card (<< for a reverse one, <> for a bidirectional one).

  • Type :: to create a Concept card (:> for forward-only, :< for reverse-only).

  • Type ;; to create a Descriptor card (;< for reverse).

  • Type {{, or highlight some text and press {, to create a Cloze (fill-in-the-blank) card.

  • Type A) after creating a Basic card to create a Multiple-Choice card.

  • Ctrl+click on an image (Cmd+click on a Mac) to create an Image Occlusion card.

You can make the first three types of cards into Multi-line cards either by typing the character three times instead of twice (e.g., >>> for a multi-line Basic card), or by pressing Enter/Return after typing it twice.

To learn more about each type of flashcard, read on!

Once you’ve created flashcards, you can get an overview of them and practice them from the Flashcard Home.

Basic Cards

Basic cards are the simplest type of flashcard. They have two sides, which are generally a prompt (question) and an answer, but you can put whatever you like on each side. By default, a single card is created in the forward direction (show the prompt and ask for the answer), but you can instead choose to create a single card in the reverse direction (show the answer and ask for the prompt), create cards in both directions, or create no cards at all. (You might choose not to create flashcards in either direction if, for example, you temporarily don't want to study a particular question. See Setting Priorities and Disabling Flashcards for more information.)

To create a Basic card, type the prompt, then >> or ==, then the response. When you type >>, RemNote will change it into a pretty right arrow, indicating that you have one flashcard in the forward direction. Clicking the arrow will allow you to preview your card(s) and select what direction(s) to show flashcards in (the direction the arrow points will update to match).

As a shortcut, you can instead type <<, <> , or =- to start with only a backwards card, cards in both directions, or no cards, respectively.


When you study a flashcard in RemNote, it will show all of the ancestors of the Rem the card was generated from – that is, all the Rems above it in the outline hierarchy – to provide you with context on the question you're being asked to answer, so you don't need to include this information in every prompt.

For example, consider this short block of notes:

The second card will appear like this:

Notice that the back of the Mitochondria card is included. In many cases, this is useful context. If it gives away the answer to the How are they thought to have originated? card, this is usually a sign it should be a concept card instead (see immediately below). Concept cards don't show the back side here.

Concept Cards

Concept cards work much like Basic cards, but their prompt is the name of a concept (thing). Concepts are shown in bold, and, unlike Basic cards, concepts generate flashcards in both directions by default. (As with a Basic card, you can change what directions are tested by clicking on the arrow.) By convention, they should begin with an uppercase letter. For more on why you might want to mark things as Concepts, see Structuring Knowledge in RemNote.

Create a Concept card by typing the name of the concept, :: (two colons), and then its definition. You'll know that you've created a Concept card because the concept name turns bold.

We can improve the example above by turning Cell and Mitochondria into concept cards:

See Creating Concept/Descriptor Cards for more details on this type of card.

Descriptor Cards

Descriptor cards are similar to Basic cards and Concept cards, but they describe a specific attribute of their parent Concept. They are shown in italics and are shown only in the forward direction by default. By convention, they should begin with a lowercase letter (unlike Concepts, which should begin with an uppercase letter).

Create a Descriptor card by typing the name of the attribute, ;; (two semicolons), and then its description. You'll know that you created a Descriptor card because the attribute name turns italic.

We can make the example above more concise by turning the question about Mitochondria into a descriptor:

See Creating Concept/Descriptor Cards for more details on this type of card.

Cloze (Fill-in-the-Blank) Cards

Basic, Concept, and Descriptor cards all work in the same way: you define a front side and a back side and then decide which directions to practice them in. Cloze cards work completely differently: When creating the cards, you select specific parts of a Rem's text to hide. Then when practicing the cards, you'll be asked to fill in these blanks (called occlusions or cloze deletions).

Create Cloze cards from a Rem by selecting any text you want to occlude in it, then selecting the cloze button (dotted box icon) on the formatting toolbar or pressing the { key. Alternatively, create cloze cards as you type the text of a Rem by pressing {{ before typing the text you want to occlude and }} when you're done.

You can occlude multiple sections in the same Rem; if you do this, a drop-down arrow will appear next to each occlusion, allowing you to choose whether you want all of the sections to be hidden at once or each section to be hidden individually on a separate card.

It's also possible to generate both Basic/Concept/Descriptor cards and Cloze cards from the same Rem: simply create the Basic card, then additionally select some portions to occlude. This can come in handy if you need some extra reinforcement on a complex or long definition, for instance.

Writing good Cloze cards

It tends to be more difficult to write effective Cloze cards than effective Basic, Concept, or Descriptor cards. This is because the specific wording of the sentence surrounding the occlusion can make it artificially easy to remember the answer when you practice it within RemNote. In real life, when you need to remember a fact or idea, you won't have the luxury of being prompted by the same exact sentence every time! For this reason, many people prefer to use Cloze cards as a small part of an overall learning strategy, rather than a primary method of generating all flashcards. When you do use Cloze cards, for best results, be sure that the text surrounding the occlusion is a good representation of the context in which you want to remember the idea, and that it doesn't give the answer away by using unusual words or context cues.

It's also worth noting that using cloze cards, compared to Concept/Descriptor cards or even Basic cards, often makes it more difficult to find information or create cross-references in your notes in the future. If you look again at the examples about cells above, you should be able to see that it will be much easier to search or scan your notes for information about mitochondria, for example, if they're written in a Concept/Descriptor style than in a cloze style.

In some circumstances, cloze cards are clearly the best choice, however ­– for instance, if you want to memorize parts of a quote.

Multi-Line Cards

Multi-line cards allow you to include a short list of items on the back of a card, rather than a single item. You can either reveal all the items at once on the back, or flip through them one by one.

Tip: Before you start creating multi-line cards, recognize that flashcards with long lists on the back side can be unnecessarily difficult to remember. Using too many poorly structured multi-line cards can therefore potentially massively increase the amount of practice time required to learn and retain the information. Lists also decrease the efficiency of RemNote's scheduler: if you forget a single element of a list, you'll have to practice the entire list over again, whereas if you find a different way to structure the information, you'll be able to repeat only the specific item(s) you're struggling with.

Sometimes there's no getting around learning a short list, and multi-line flashcards are great here! But use them only when you're sure you need to be able to recall the information as a list, not for information that could be structured in some other way.

To create a multi-line card, choose one of the following methods:

  • Press Enter after entering any card trigger (e.g., >>, then Enter to create a multi-line Basic card). This will put your cursor on the first line of the new answer.

  • Type the trigger character three times instead of two: >>>, :::, or ;;; . This will also put your cursor on the first line of the new answer.

  • If you already have a Rem with children representing the list items, select the children, then choose the Card Item option from the /-menu or press Ctrl+Alt+R (Cmd+Opt+R on a Mac). The parent will become the prompt of a Basic Card and the list of children will become the answer.

    • /card item is a toggle – you can use it again to remove an existing line from a multi-line flashcard.

Testing all at once

By default, any of the methods of creating a multi-line flashcard above will reveal all lines of the flashcard simultaneously.

Testing one at a time

To instead be tested on each line separately (this is sometimes called a List-Answer Card), change the children into a numbered list rather than a bulleted list using one of these methods:

  • Type 1. right after your cursor is moved into the first line of a new multi-line flashcard. This will start a numbered list.

  • Select all of the children and choose List Item from the omnibar (Ctrl+K).

When testing the items of a multi-line card one by one, rating cards works slightly differently:

  • If you choose Forgot at any point, the card is immediately dismissed and goes back into the queue for later review, as usual.

  • If you choose any of the “correct” options on a line before the final one (Partially recalled, Recalled with effort, or Easily recalled), RemNote will proceed to test you on the next line, but will not use the rating you picked to decide when to show the card again.

  • The rating provided on the final item studied (whether this is a Forgot before the end of the sequence, a Forgot on the final item of the sequence, or a correct rating on the final item of the sequence) will go into your card history and be used to decide when to show the card again.

Testing in multiple directions

Like any other card, it's possible to choose to test a multi-line flashcard backwards, both forwards and backwards, or not at all, by clicking the flashcard arrow and making an appropriate selection. In the backwards direction, you'll see all of the child items and be asked to supply the immediate parent item.

Testing recursively

A multi-line card’s back side can contain other multi-line cards, like in this example:

In this situation, a card will be created for each of the numbers (for instance, 1 > a, b), as well as a card for the top-level question (First three numbers > 1, 2, 3).

The top-level question won’t show its grandchildren by default (here, the letters) – only its direct children. Because it’s beneficial to test as few items on each card as possible, as mentioned earlier, this is usually preferable. However, if you wish, you can expand some or all of the child items while studying a card in the queue (or while previewing it by clicking the arrow in the editor), thus showing their children as well:

The expand/collapse state is persistent – you only need to do this once for each recursive multi-line card you create, and in all subsequent practice sessions it will appear the same way. The state is also stored separately for the flashcard queue/flashcard preview and the editor, so you can freely expand and collapse your documents while editing them without affecting the display of your cards.

Multiple-Choice Cards

Multiple-choice cards allow you to show a number of possible answers and select the correct one, then get feedback on your choice. These are a handy way to practice for an exam that will also be multiple-choice.

Warning: We don't recommend using multiple-choice cards for general-purpose learning. They're a great way to practice for an exam when you have a question bank or a series of sample questions, but for best results they should be used as part of an overall learning strategy, mixed with other types of flashcards – not exclusively. For more details, check out Using Multiple-Choice Flashcards Effectively.

To create a multiple-choice card, type a question, then >>A). Then type the options you want to show. Option A is the correct answer; additional options will be treated as wrong answers. (The answer choices will be presented in a random order every time you practice, so you can't accidentally memorize the letter of the correct answer.)

When you practice a multiple-choice card, you'll be shown all the possible answers and asked to select one.

After you make a selection, either with the mouse or by pressing a number key, RemNote will indicate which answer was correct and auto-select the Forgot or Recalled with effort button, depending on whether you chose the correct answer or not. You can press Enter to accept the choice, or pick a different rating.

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