Tell me about your Anki setup

So far the only thing I’ve tried is making a word list in Takoboto with things I look up and then have Takoboto send this list to AnkiDroid. Easy, but:
1)The cards that are automatically produced are small plain text, the word in kanji and hiragana on one side, meaning and automatic example sentence on the other. Not too bad, but too plain looking.
2) Then there’s AnkiDroid itself. I don’t get reminders about reviews or anything (it may be a settings thing), so I only do it whenever I remember, which lately is…well, never. I’m also never sure what button to click. What’s the difference between “easy” and “good”? “Hard” and “again”?

How do you all deal with Anki? What process do you use to make your cards, and how (as in how often, on what software etc) do you review them?


So far I’m only using a frequency based premade 1k deck, but once I have time I’ll try to get started with the mining setup described in this post:

Edit: I guess you’ll have to click through to read it properly :upside_down_face:

Edit the second: I only use “good” and “again”, I read on the refold roadmap that “easy” and “hard” have counterintuitive effects on the SRS. I haven’t looked into if that’s actually the case tho.


I don’t mind the default Anki style, but if it’s too plain for you, you can style the cards any way you want (it’s just HTML + CSS), or download a deck with styling that suits you.

Personally, I don’t care much how the cards look, I’m there to review stuff not to look at pretty things.

Anki only gives you new reviews and new lessons once per day. I just make it a habit to check Anki each day which works quite fine.

The difference, “obviously”, is the time until the next time you see the card, so let that influence your decision. That said, 95% of the time, I only use “good” and “again”. I reserve “hard” for “I really had to think way too long about this”, or, “I kinda got this right but had a small error / forgot one additional meaning / etc.”, and I reserve “easy” for “yeah I kinda know this card by heart, I really don’t need to see it in a while”.

If it’s overwhelming to have to decide, you can just make a habit to only ever use “good” and “again” and ignore the other options.


Thanks, I’ll have a look :+1:

I don’t need anything fancy, but I’d like the word in question to be larger at least. Especially when it’s some complicated kanji. I don’t know how to style my deck through my phone, and I’m not even sure I can do that for the autogenerated list from Takoboto.

Is that what <1 m (again), <6 min (hard), <10 min (good) and 4 d (easy) mean? So if press anything other than easy during a review, I’ll see that card again during that same review? I don’t remember that happening.


I recently followed this guide:

Which includes some nice styling for cards. They look like this on the front:

and this on the back:

I’m guessing you could probs just pinch the styling code and use it for the takoboto cards if it’s the kind of thing you are looking for?


It’s probably not possible to do this through the app, so you’d probably have to do it on the desktop. I don’t know how Takoboto works, but in general, you can just adjust the styling for a particular card type, and then all the cards with that card type will use that styling, i.e. you don’t have to go change each individual card.

Well, the algorithm how Anki determines interval lengths is a bit complex and also customisable to some extent. But yes, this is what the numbers refer to. The very first review will be shown in a number of minutes (so I was technically wrong to say that Anki only gives you new reviews every day), but usually you do the second review in the same session, and after the second successful review the minimum interval is one day (possibly you can still change this, but that’s the default).


Thanks, this style looks very much like what I wanted. I’ll check out the video :slight_smile:

I use Takoboto word lists imported to Anki on my computer, and to be honest I pretty much just use Anki itself completely bare-bones out of the box.

By default Anki seems to go for daily pile of reviews, rather than Wanikani’s more intense approach where reviews have super specific times. With Anki, I just do my reviews each day, in the morning usually, until it says to stop.
The only setting I’ve really modulated is the “New cards / day” setting for the deck, setting it higher when I want more, setting it lower when it feels like too much. Nowadays I just keep it at 20 and have a steady stream of about 200-300 reviews per day. I think at this rate I have more cards in the hopper than I will get through this year, but that’s fine with me. They’re all from my own look-ups, and the way my wordlists are set up I can immediately see if something’s in my anki hopper already as I look it up, and it’s strangely comforting to know I’ll get to it (someday).
(oh, also I set the deck to pick new cards randomly not by date added)

I’m pretty relaxed with the reviews, and just use “Good” normally, “Again” if I completely whiffed it, and “Hard” if I didn’t get it to Wanikani standards but still felt like I completely knew it.
That has seemed fine to me so I haven’t tinkered really at all with the SRS stages and stuff. I’m definitely not the kind of person who feels like the tool I use needs to be at max 100% efficiency, and with the giant mass of cards involved (and no level ups), I feel like I’m way less conscious of the ups and downs of individual cards, which I think is for the better.

To make the cards, I take the export from Takoboto (with added labels for stuff like “I want to study an alternate kanji in this card”), and when they come up as new cards I edit them to focus on what I want, and add a little info like photos or whatever. Handling editing the card when it comes up means I never have to block time to get 1000s of cards perfect - I just improve them when they become relevant.
e.g. this one about a particular suit in mahjong:

Not pretty! But it takes a minimum of effort to put together my own cards, which to me, is what I want.
(Probably a lot less feasible on an Anki app on a phone though, unfortunately)


What 1k deck are you using if you don’t mind sharing?

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Oh that’s interesting, I didn’t know you can edit a card as it comes up. A quick look at AnkiDroid confirms that it can also be done through the app (not sure to what extent, but I’ll be sure to check).

How do you export to your computer? Do you use the Takoboto “send to AnkiDroid” option, then it syncs to your Anki account? (I still haven’t set up one, so it’s only local for now). Or is there another way?

Another question that just occurred to me: How are different Takoboto lists handled? I’d like to keep vocabulary from different books in separate lists, but would that also mean that I’ll have to load it separately for review on Anki? Or are all new cards from Takoboto handled as one deck, regardless of list?

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The Refold JP1K vocab deck I think it’s pretty good. Nice example sentences and native audio:)


I use Anki on desktop to create and edit cards, and I use the iOS app (which is a bit pricey but worth it for me) to review. Like somebody mentioned before, Anki gives you reviews once a day (you can determine when, I think the default is 3 or 4 am which works fine for me). Unless you have some fancy card design with a lot of repetitions in the initial learning phase (some people use this to mock WK’s 4 and 8 hour intervals, but I never really felt the need, so I don’t have that). I do my reviews whenever I remember, sometimes when I need to fill some short timeslot, or in intervals mixed in with other tasks, but I usually end up doing about half of my reviews in the late evening (the last ones in bed, usually).

I create my cards manually, mainly from Jisho. I sometimes think that I should look into automating this process a little bit, but my cards are a bit complicated, so I’m not sure whether that would even work that well… And I actually don’t mind creating the cards manually. Sometimes it feels like a first learning cycle to me.
Initially I used JLPT decks created by an app called StickyStudy, but nowadays I mine my cards from books. I tag each card with the book’s I found the word in. That’s quite fun because I find many more words than I can learn in any given period of time, so I will find some words multiple times. It’s always interesting for me to look at the books in which I found any given word. This also helps me decide which words to study next.

My card layout it pretty plain but I do use a nice font for the Japanese text (it’s called YuKyokasho, I think it’s a font that many books use). I create up to four cards from one note: Kanji → Reading and English, for reading; Kana → English, for listening; English → Kanji and Kana, for speaking; and Kana and English → Kanji, for writing. Initially I tried to somehow automatically determine which cards to create, but that was a flaky process so I switched to having four fields that I can fill with an “x” which will then trigger the card generation.

Regarding how to answer the cards, I usually answer “good” but when I think I really know the card, I answer “easy”, and if I struggle a lot, I answer “hard”. If I make a mistake, like getting the reading wrong (even for small things like rendaku) or thinking of the wrong meaning, I select “again”. I also played around with the review interval settings quite a bit because I don’t learn as fast any more, and WK’s intervals get too large too quickly for me. Therefore I reduced the interval size. (Which is a bit complicated and not exactly straightforward). I monitor my success rate and I usually aim at 80% for mature cards. On the other hand, with these short intervals, if I chew on leeches for too long, I get a huge pile of reviews, and so I let Anki suspend my leeches after 6 repetitions, which works quite well for me. (I’d rather learn more words that will stick better with me than chew on a few leeches tbh.)

Yeah, that’s about it! If you have any questions, please feel free :slight_smile:


Usually you set up an AnkiWeb account, then you can sync your desktop and your phone with the AnkiWeb contents. (So it basically serves as the master.)
Sometimes you might get conflicts if you edited on both sides (reviewing is also an edit operation, in a sense) so it’s useful to make sure that you always sync after changing something.

I don’t know about the Takoboto part, but for the rest of your questions: You can have separate lists for each set of vocab, or you can have one big list. I personally use a big list with tags because I have lots of overlap between the individual lists, and I would never be able to make up my mind on how to handle those… But I know others who have individual lists.
For review, I think if your individual lists are grouped under one top-level list, then you can do reviews on the top-level list and it will mix the items from all the sub-lists. Or you can do reviews on your lists individually.


The way you create cards sounds like hard work! It must take you a lot of time indeed :astonished:
I’m sure that this way half of your learning is done even before your first review :smiley:

(I’d be interested to see a sample of one of your cards if you’d like to share)

So how does it work exactly? As you’re reading, I assume you take note of the words you want to make cards for. How? By highlighting? Writing down? Looking them up and saving them in a dictionary app?
Then you take that list and handcraft your cards. If there’s a double, how do you know? (I assume you don’t remember them all?). Does Anki itself warn you?


I export by going to
(in takoboto)
List of words → Export to file
That spits out a .csv file with all the word lists in it.
I take that from my phone to my computer (by hooking it up with a cable and finding the generated file), and open it in a spreadsheet editor:

It has the list the word was in in the first column, then all the data and stuff in other columns.

I manipulate how I want to import from that point.
How I personally handle my takoboto word lists is I make a word list for each type of media (like “manga”, “text”, etc.) and then particular lists intended for ways I want to import to anki - one for a regular import, one for alt kanji, one for no kanji.
So manipulating the csv means I delete all the non-anki-import lists, then add a note to the alt kanji and no kanji entries so I know when they come up what part I want to study and therefore how to finish the card, and then I make the content of the front and back of the cards the first two columns, so they’ll easily end up the front and back of the eventual cards:

Then I import it into my one anki deck (since personally I like everything mixed together), and they get added to the pile.

To cut down on duplicates (which aren’t always detected since I change the card when I study them), in takoboto I also have lists for “it’s already in anki”, so then I move all the contents of the anki import lists to those lists instead, so I’ll know to not import those words again.
So ultimately when reading I can instantly see if I’ve seen the word before, if it’s already on its way to anki, if it’s already in my anki, and very roughly where I came across it before. Which I think is really nice!

If you wanted to do something else, like say, make an anki deck only for a particular novel, you could just manipulate the csv in a different way, and pick different options when importing to anki. It’s a big bulk dataset you can do whatever you want with!

I don’t personally use an anki account since I’m only doing anything with it on one device (I should proooooobably back it up more often though…)


I wish :sweat_smile:

Sure thing

This is the front side of a vocab card (you can see the word, the part of sentence information, and the tags):

This is the corresponding back side:

(Just recently I increased the font size of the kanji because I had such a hard time to read the furigana :sweat_smile:)

For writing kanji, I use this card layout. (these screenshots are from Anki desktop) Front side:

Back side:

(here I’m using a font called KanjiStrokeOrders to show me the stroke direction and order)

I have different modes of doing this. One mode is when I sit at my desk and have my computer near me. Then I would read on my phone and look up most of the words on my computer in Jisho. I would then copy the word and put it into Anki.

Putting a new word into Anki

If I have the time, I will fill in the whole dialogue, but usually I don’t do that during reading. So it goes into the database like this (just the kanji and most of the time also the reading, and a tag for the book it came from, and sometimes an example sentence). BTW I used to have the reading already on the “Expression” field, but at some point I decided to split it up because (a) there is a plugin that fills the reading field automagically for me, and (b) like you suspected, Anki discovers duplicates and indicates them, and of course the simpler the field contents, the more unlikely it is for me to mess up and to have a duplicate go unnoticed.
This is what it looks like when:

Putting an already known word in Anki

The link at the bottom shows me all the existing cards that have an identical “Expression”. I can then decide what to do with them (if the card is already in good shape, I just add the new tag to it, but if it is in bad shape, I might want to improve it a little).

Another mode is when I read on my phone. I will then dump all the words in Anki but the iOS version does not allow me to look at duplicates. So I need to defer the duplicate-merging to later. (I can tag duplicates in Desktop Anki, and then filter for them and merge them.)

Just recently I started a book that gave me a massive load of vocab, and in order to save time during reading, I stuck those words into a text file instead, and added them to Anki later. But I’m not planning to extend this approach to other books as I’m not sure whether it really helps or actually consumes even more time :woman_shrugging:


@rodan and @NicoleIsEnough , thank you both for your very detailed answers. You’ve both been extremely helpful!

I see, so you don’t export straight to Anki, and this gives you the chance to edit your entries the way you want them first. I’d prefer to keep the steps as few as possible, but I’m increasingly convinced that this is the way to go.

Thank you for sharing! The font you’re using is indeed beautiful. I was about to ask how you test yourself on all those kanji readings, then realized that the kanji itself is on the back, so you probably picture it in your head before turning the card, instead of reciting dozens of on yomi and kun yomi :sweat_smile:

You probably can’t compare it to AnkiDroid, but what is it about the app that makes you say it’s worth it? Is it just the ease of having Anki available on your iOS device(s) or is there something special about it? I’m asking because I have a Windows desktop, an Android phone and an iPad, so I wouldn’t necessarily get the iOS app unless there was some added benefit in having it. (truth is I usually read on the iPad, so maybe that’s reason enough)

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I SRS mainly the books I’m reading. I use a premade wordlist or extract the words from the text (recently made a python script for this!) and mostly prelearn words. I have about 6k vocab words and 3k writing cards. I get about 100 vocab reviews and 40 writing reviews. On average I’ve probably added 15 cards a day. I also use the iOS Anki, which is worth at least double it’s price.

Main points of my setup:

  • Only JP → EN. Just the word on front. I don’t want to translate words from en to jp in my head.
  • Learning intervals: 15 1440 8640 with a graduating interval of 15 days. Ain’t nobody got time do reviews more than once a day. Default learning steps are way too small and lead to a lot of useless reviews in the beginning. Do yourself a favor and make them longer. Also avoids the ease of your cards dropping and you fallin into ease hell! This also makes I can add 50 cards one day and it’s not gonna bite back too much.
  • New interval on lapse: somewhere between 25-50%. This is the most important setting to change!! If you change just one thing, be it this one. It avoids you from drowning in cards you had a blunder with. Failing a card should not reset it’s progress to zero!! Think about reviewing a card for a year, have a momentary lapse of memory, and the card is back to the same state like you’ve never seen it. That’s just silly.
  • *Leech threshold: 5. And suspend. * If it’s not gonna stick, it’s not gonna stick. You don’t have to learn every word through SRS. Leeches waste time when you could be learning new words. Much more efficient to learn 20 words and retain 15, than 5 and retain all of them. This is just supplement to your reading anyway.
  • Only use again and fail. Can’t trust myself in evaluating whether it was easy or hard. Better to just keep it binary and speed up your reviews. If you find ease dropping too much, it’s ok to use easy now and then, though.

My retention for mature cards is about 80%, which I find plenty enough.

Yeah, I’ve spent way too much time studying all this and finding the optimal method for me :sweat_smile:. But reading daily and so far using Anki for about 1,5 years I’ve in my evaluation went from a beginner reader to a one, who can pretty comfortably read the average book (bar some specific, rare vocabulary).


A plus for me is that the export doesn’t need to happen very often at all (especially as the deck grows… My last time between imports was I think six months with no break in reviews).

I don’t mind if the export/import step is a bit complicated if it means I can create thousands of cards at the same time with it, and most importantly the actions I take while reading or reviewing are extremely simple and mechanical: just tap a few buttons to add to word lists when I look stuff up, and in the daily anki session do reviews like normal shifting around new cards slightly when they come up, and I can trust the system will handle them without my having to really think about it even a little bit in the moment.
Maximizing simplicity in the moment for me goes a long way towards being able to read even obscure things with tons of new words seamlessly and comfortably. Which is all I really want to do anyway, and is how the deck grows so fast for that matter!


Your settings make a lot of sense to me, I think I may copy them exactly as they are :grin:
I don’t know about prelearning though, it feels to me like a major hurdle to overcome before getting to a book, I’d be sure to be discouraged. I prefer looking up as I go, I think.
I’m curious though, how does prelearning work? Getting a list from koohii or somewhere, or even extracting it yourself (impressive!), how do you then sort out the words you actually don’t know yet from all the others that you do? (not by reading each one surely?)