How do you make vocab lists?

One of many reasons why I love to read the book club books is that there are always excellent vocab lists to go with the books. A huge thank you to those of you who participate in making the lists!

To those of you who make the vocab lists for the book clubs, or those of you who make vocab lists for your own use, how do you make them? What tools do you use?

I copy-paste the word (or enter it manually) into jisho and then copy-paste the kanji, reading and meaning into my Google Sheets vocab lists. It works, but it doesn’t feel very elegant.

Is there a better and easier way to make vocab lists?


Not that I’m aware of, because that’s basically how I do it.

Someone could probably write a macro or something, I’m sure.


I think doing it manually is best. For book club spreadsheets at least, you should only be adding words that you’re sure of the meaning in context. So any kind of automated approach increases the chance of something wrong being added to the spreadsheet.

From your phrasing, it sounds like you’re using spreadsheets for your own personal reading as well. Is that the case? If so, what are you using them for?


I never thought about it before (because I only started making vocab sheets when I started using the book club ones), but it’s probably possible to make a browser extension that connects to the sheets api to send selected text to a given spreadsheet… (kind of like how Yomichan works with AnkiConnect to automate flash card creation)

Maybe something like that already exists, but I haven’t searched yet :slight_smile: I just do the copy/paste way too for now!

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Well, I kind of want them for my own personal reading, but I haven’t started making them yet. I’m still looking for the best way to read books using Kindle. Yesterday I was very happy reading in Kindle and copying the words I didn’t understand to a dictionary app, until I hit the limit for how many times I can copy from a book. Now it feels like I’m back on square 1. Maybe the best way to do this is to make a personal vocab list in Google sheets, maybe it’s better to make Anki cards, maybe there’s a solution I haven’t thought of yet.

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I know you can export Kindle vocab files and then use those to create Anki cards etc, but I haven’t tried this myself

EDIT: oh wait, sorry I thought you were using the built-in dictionaries on your Kindle

You can export to Sheets from Google Translate I think, but it’s not very automatic.

Are you using a Kindle reader (like Paperwhite or Oasis)? If so, you should try using one of the built-in dictionaries for Kindle. That’s the main draw. There are even JMdict (what is based on) dictionaries for Kindle that you can add manually from your computer. With a built-in or added dictionary you can look up words right there as you’re reading instead of having to copy anything. If you’re just using the Kindle app for your phone or something then, yeah… they kind of suck because you can’t to all that.

Either way, I don’t think a spreadsheet is a good way to learn words. It’s useful for the book clubs because it gives quick lookup for a specific chapter, but I don’t think it has much value in the long run. If you want to study the words, I’d suggest adding them to an SRS platform (such as Anki or my preference Or if you’re busy with WaniKani/grammar/etc., just don’t bother studying them for now. In which case, I wouldn’t save the words you look up anywhere.


I’ve been making vocabulary lists for watching dramas in a spreadsheet, then sort the words by various criteria and add the “highest ranked” words to Anki with sentence cards (cause otherwise I would be adding 50-80 new words per episode, haha). The process of looking up each word on both a monolingual and bilingual dictionary (goo and jisho in my case) helps me gain familiarity with all of the unknown words, even if I ultimately don’t put it into Anki.

I\m using both a Kindle reader and the Kindle app on Android. The built-in dictionaries don’t always give me what I need, but I’ll look into downloading JMDict. That may be the solution I’m looking for. Thank you!

Thanks for this too. I have too much SRS going on right now and I don’t want to make Anki cards or use another SRS in addition to what I’m already using. Thanks for confirming that for me!


I agree with seanblue too - a spreadsheet is a helpful way to help each other in a club, but I don’t use it for learning vocabulary. I learn a very small number of words of FloFlo/Koohi after burning out on SRS horribly last year, but if you already feel like you have too much SRS in your life then the last thing you need is to be cramming more stuff in!



(Scuttling back into lurker mode)


Honestly, for vocab, I think it’s always better to create your own deck. I use Anki for that. Basically, when I find a word that I want to translate, I take it with the whole sentence and put that on the front card.

Then translate the word on goo, pick a Japanese definition that is at least a bit understandable and copy that on the back card.

In other words, it looks like this:

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I have a very similar way of doing things! On the front I have a sentence and on the back I have the part of speech, Japanese definition, and English definition. The English definition is hidden under a button so I don’t automatically look at it rather than try to understand the Japanese definition.


I usually don’t bother trying to memorize any words from reading (because I’m lazy and rely on seeing them again later) – but I am a chronic note taker, and find that making personal lists helps me when pages are too dense with unknown vocab (looking at you first week of ゆるキャン :sweat_smile:).
The shared sheets are for everyone including absolute beginners, but (I think) I’m an advanced beginner so don’t need the translation of every single word. That said, I did keep about 60 words from the first day :smirk:

I can come back to it later and either do something useful with it (easy enough to mass import into an SRS but I probably won’t), or chuck it out (because just copying/writing stuff down helped memorize the thing) :upside_down_face: