How to make flashcards quickly and easily

How to make flashcards quickly and easily

Published: Feb 13, 2024 | By: Lucas Weaver

Making flashcards is a method as tried and true as they come when it comes to learning everything from vocabulary for a new language to key dates in history.

In this post, I’ll cover how to make flashcards in several ways, including digital flashcards with online flashcard makers and apps, as well as physical flashcards and printed flashcards.

But instead of just teaching you how to make flashcards themselves, I’ll teach you the best methods to structure the cards and organize the information so that when you study your flashcards, you’ll have the best chances to remember the information long-term.

Before we get into the best ways to make flashcards, let’s look at the different formats and which format is best for which use.

If you’ve already decided which format of flashcards you want to make, feel free to use the table of contents to switch around to the different parts of the post that have the most helpful information for you.

Understanding Different Flashcard Formats

When it comes to learning new things, whether it's a new language or scientific formulas, flashcards have proven to be one of the most effective study techniques you can use. 

But not all flashcards are made the same. Not only do you have choices now like flashcard apps, but you’ve also got to choose the strategy you want to use in deciding which information you put on each side of the cards.

Traditional Paper or Print Flashcards (Index cards)

The most commonly used type of flashcards are made with index cards. They’re pretty straightforward - one side has the word and the other the definition, or one side has a question and the other has the answer.

Pros:
-
Tangible Learning: There’s something about holding physical cards that just feels right. They make the learning experience more real. Also, handwriting cards yourself has been shown to help improve your long-term memory of the content you write.
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Customizable: You can get creative with colors, diagrams, or whatever else you can draw that helps you learn better.
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No Tech Required: No need to worry about battery life or eye strain from screens.

Cons:
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Time-Consuming: Making flashcards by hand takes time. A lot of it. Especially if you have a lot of pages of content to learn, you can spend hours over weeks creating flashcards by hand
-
Not So Durable: Ever spilled coffee on paper? Yeah, not fun.
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Limited Space: You're somewhat limited by the size of the card, which means sometimes you either have to write less or write smaller, neither of which are the ideal solution.

- Mobile but easy to forget: For the same reason most people write all their notes on their phones these days, people also often turn to digital flashcards because they can’t be forgotten. As long as you have your phone, you have your flashcards. Not so for physical ones, which you have to make sure are with you to be able to study them.

Digital Flashcard Apps

In the 21st century, we may not have flying cars yet, but we do have digital flashcard makers. These flashcard apps let you create, store, and review flashcards right on your phone or computer.

Pros:

  • Massive Storage: You can have thousands of flashcards without taking up physical space.

  • Interactive Learning: These apps often come with gamification and quizzes to make learning a more fun and engaging experience.

  • Easy to Share: Studying with friends? Just send them a link to your flashcard set on many apps and you can study together.

Cons:

  • Dependent on Technology: No device, no study. However, as I said in the Cons section for physical flashcards, when’s the last time you didn’t have your phone instead of missing something else?

  • Overwhelming: Sometimes, having too many features can be a bit much. You can run into “decision fatigue” and have trouble figuring out which flashcard set to study, resulting in you not studying at all.

Subscription Fees: Some of the best apps out there require you to pay to use them, but often for good reason, due to the amount of time and effort they can save you.

How to Choose the Right Format for Your Learning Style

Now, how do you decide which way of making flashcards is right for you? Here are some quick tips:

  • Know Thyself: Are you a tech-savvy learner who loves gadgets, or do you prefer the smell of paper? Your personal preference plays a huge role.

  • Consider Your Routine: If you're always on the go, digital flashcards might be more your speed. Do you enjoy doing ‘arts and crafts’ style activities? Then index cards might be the route for you.

  • Test Different Formats: Sometimes, you might end up liking a mix of the two for different subjects or topics.

Remember, there's no one-size-fits-all answer here. Play around with different methods until you find the one that mixes well with your routine.

The best flashcards will be the ones that you actually study and help you achieve your learning goals.

flashcard apps for learning vocabulary

The best digital flashcard maker apps

Now that we’ve covered the two primary methods for making flashcards, I’ll give you a run-down of what I think the best flashcard makers and flashcard apps are available to you today. 

If you’ve decided to go with making physical flashcards that’s fine too, you can click here to skip down below to that section.

flashcard maker

The Weaver School

Now I’m 1,000,000% biased here because I built this flashcard maker tool entirely myself, so please forgive me if I sound like someone going on and on about how cute their baby is.

But I can tell you honestly that I think this is one of the best flashcard makers on the internet.

The reason why is that all the functionality I’ve built is focused on making the process of making flashcards easier and helping you learn their content faster.

Let me give you an example of just how easy it is to make flashcards with the Weaver School flashcard app.

Create flashcards from a file

All you have to do to create a new flashcard set is upload a PDF of some content you’re studying. Whether it’s a random article full of vocabulary words, or a chapter from a textbook, our AI will scan the document for relevant vocabulary words and then create the flashcards for you, complete with:

  • Term

  • Translation or definition

  • Example of the term in a sentence

  • A human-sounding AI voice reading the word out loud

  • An AI-generated image illustrating the example sentence

And that’s all only on the flashcard creation side. The study side has several study modes and spaced repetition reminders telling you when you need to review the words to make sure you don’t forget them.

flashcard app

Make flashcards from a list

Already have a list of vocabulary words you want to memorize complete with definitions? That’s fine too. You can just copy and paste the entire list of terms and definitions and we’ll create your flashcard set from that too.

Make flashcards from an image

What if you don’t have the words you want in a text or pdf file? That’s also okay. All you have to do is take a picture of the text and upload it into our flashcard app, and we can make flashcards for you from that as well.

Like I said, I’ve tried to cover every angle to help you make flashcards as quickly and easily as possible. And if there’s a feature you’re missing, you can always send me an email and I’ll see if I can build it.

Click here to try the easiest and most powerful flashcard maker available on the internet.

flashcard maker app

Quizlet

Quizlet is a flashcard and overall learning platform that has also been adding an impressive number of AI features to its app. 

It’s super easy to use, and if you don't want to create flashcards yourself, they’re loaded with millions of flashcard sets from users around the globe who might have been studying the same thing as you. 

Whether you're studying English literature or cramming for biology, Quizlet’s got options for learners of all subjects.

Anki  

Anki simplifies the process of remembering key terms and concepts by offering a specialized algorithm for learners to manage spaced repetition to aid in long-term memory.

For folks who love customization, Anki can be a dream come true. It’s a bit more complex than other flashcard apps, but that complexity can provide a lot of flexibility for learners who want to make their own flashcards with certain specialized powerful features.

Features like:

  • Synchronization: Keep your cards in sync between all your devices with the free AnkiWeb service.

  • Flexibility: Use flashcard templates or customize card layouts and review timing to suit your preferences.

  • Media-Rich: Embed audio clips, images, videos, and scientific markup with precision.

  • Optimized: Handle massive decks of over 100,000 cards effortlessly.

  • Fully Extensible: Explore a vast array of add-ons to enhance your learning experience.

  • Open Source: Rest assured that your data is secure and accessible with Anki's open code and storage format.

Cram

Just as the name suggests, Cram is your go-to app for those last-minute study sessions. It’s straightforward, with a clean interface that lets you focus on what matters - memorizing information.

After you make your own flash cards, you can organize flashcards into folders, customize titles, subjects, and descriptions, and manage privacy settings. The Cram mode feature facilitates memorization through spaced repetition, a proven learning technique. It prioritizes newer and more challenging flashcards for frequent review, optimizing the psychological spacing effect. 

Additionally, users can access millions of existing flashcards or create their own using the Cram app. This versatility extends to both web and mobile platforms, enhancing study flexibility and accessibility.

how to make flashcards with digital flashcard maker apps

Hopefully if you’ve learned anything from this post so far, it’s been that creating digital flashcards can be as easy as pie with the right tools at your fingertips. Let’s break it down:

Making flashcards with the Weaver School

  1. Create a new account or log in with your existing one.

  2. Click on "Flashcards" and then “Create a new set”

  3. Click “Create from file” then choose the file you want to make flashcards from.

  4. Choose the target language your file is in and which language you want your content translated into (if applicable).

  5. Click “Create” and then let the AI do its magic. Within a few minutes, you’ll have a brand new set of shiny new flashcards ready for you to study and memorize.

Making Flashcards in Quizlet

  1.  Sign Up or Log In: First things first, hop onto Quizlet and make an account or log in.

  2. Create a New Set: On your dashboard, hit the “Create” button to start a new flashcard set.

  3. Enter Your Information: You’ll see two boxes: one for the term or question and the other for the definition or answer. Just type in your info.

  4.  Add Images or Audios (If you want): Want to spice things up? Quizlet lets you add images and audio to your flashcards.

  5. Save and Share: Hit “Create” once you're done, and voila! You’ve got yourself a set of shiny new flashcards

Creating Flashcards in Anki 

  1. Download and Open Anki: First off, download Anki from its website, install it, and open it up.

  2. Create a Deck: Click on “Create Deck” at the bottom, and give it a name related to what you're studying.

  3.  Add New Flashcards: Click “Add” on the top. Here, you can type in your questions and answers. Anki allows for customization, so feel free to play around with card formatting.

  4. Study and Review: Once you’ve created your cards, it’s time to hit the books. Anki’s spaced repetition algorithm will help you focus on the flashcards you find most challenging.

Remember, the key to effective learning is consistency. So pick an app, whip up some flashcards, get yourself a study routine, and just keep studying.

how to make printable flashcards

How to Make Physical or Printable Flashcards

Choosing the Right Material for Print Flashcards

First things first, let's talk about the foundation of any good flashcard - the material. You might think any old piece of paper would do, but trust me, the right material makes a huge difference.

  • Index Cards: Your best bet. Index cards are the classic and most common type of flashcard for a reason. They're sturdy, easy to shuffle, and just the right size. Plus, they usually come in a pack, so you won't run out anytime soon.

  • Cardstock: Another great option, especially for printable flashcards. It's thick and durable, meaning your flashcards will last longer, even if you're a bit rough with them.

The key is to choose something that feels good in your hands and can withstand a bit of wear and tear. Normal A4 paper typically won’t work well because they fold too easily and don’t hold up for much more than a week.

Also, normal printer paper is quite thin compared to index cards, so sometimes you can see the definition on the other side with some light. Who needs that temptation? 😉

Crafting the Right Content for Engaging Flashcards

Now, creating the content for your flashcards is where the magic comes in as far as improving learning speeds and test scores. Here’s how to make each card a tiny treasure trove of knowledge:

  • Keep it Simple: One question or concept per card. You're aiming for clarity, not cramming as much info as you can.

  • Use Both Sides: Put a question or a keyword on one side and the answer or explanation on the other. This makes self-testing a breeze.

  • Make it Visual: Whenever possible, add a small drawing or a symbol. A visual cue can trigger your memory more effectively than words alone.

  • Be Consistent: If you’re making a set, keep your formatting consistent. It’s not just about looking neat; it’s about making the learning process smoother for your brain.

Tips for Handwriting Versus Typing Your Flashcards

The age-old debate: to type or to handwrite? Well, both methods have their charms and benefits.

Handwriting:

  • Pros: Writing by hand has been shown to improve memory retention. There's something about the act of writing that helps our brains to lock in the knowledge.

  • Tips: Use a pen that's comfortable and make sure your handwriting is as clear as possible. After all, no one benefits from guessing games with their own notes.

Typing:

  • Pros: It's fast, and you can easily make multiple copies. Plus, typed cards are usually neater and easier to read.

  • Tips: Stick to simple fonts and avoid the temptation to cram too much information onto each card. Easy readability is key.

Whether you choose to handwrite or type your flashcards, the most important thing is consistency. Stick to one method for a set of flashcards to maintain a consistent learning experience.

Creating effective flashcards isn't just about transferring information from your notes to smaller pieces of paper. It's about crafting a learning tool that's tailored to your personal learning style.

Remember, the best flashcards are the ones that you’ll want to use over and over again. So, take your time, experiment with materials and content, and find what works best for you.

making flashcards to study vocabulary words

How to Make Flashcards Personalized to You

Ever found yourself reading the same line over and over, but it just won't stick? Ah, the struggles we humans go through trying to force information into our brains.

Here are a few things you can do when making flashcards that can personalize your experience a bit to cater to your learning style.

Including Visual Elements like Diagrams and Images

Remember when you were little and everything in school was taught with pictures? Well, turns out, that images don’t stop being helpful when you become an adult.

Images can definitely improve memorization speed, but it’s important how you go about it.

To craft enaging flashcards, try adding diagrams or images related to the concept. This isn’t about making them pretty, it’s about connecting information to visual cues

For instance, if you’re learning about the human heart, a diagram showing its parts can be much more memorable than just the words on the card. It's like giving your brain a shortcut for memory storage.

Utilizing Color Coding for Better Categorization

Colors aren't just for making things look good – they're like adding labels on a filing cabinet that tell your brain where to file information. (Also making it easier to retrieve the information later)

Imagine you’re studying French. You could use blue for verbs, pink for nouns, and yellow for adjectives. 

That way, when you think of a noun, your mind automatically pictures pink. It's a simple trick, but trust me, it works wonders for sorting information in your brain. Plus, who doesn’t need a bit of color in their lives?

Adding Mnemonics and Personal Anecdotes to Enhance Recall

Ever heard of "Richard Of York Gave Battle In Vain"? This quirky sentence helps folks remember the colors of the rainbow (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet). 

This, my friends, is a mnemonic device - a tool that turns information into an easy-to-remember format. When you create flashcards, adding mnemonics or even personal anecdotes makes the information stick like glue. 

Let’s say you’re trying to memorize a historical date; tie it to a personal event like, “Oh, that’s a day before my dog’s birthday!” Suddenly, it's not just a date; it’s a story, and stories are much easier for our brains to remember.

Incorporate stories, jokes, or even silly phrases. The more personal it is, the better your brain will hold onto it. After all, we're wired to remember stories and emotions, not just bland facts.

Personalizing your flashcard experience transforms memorization from a dull chore into a brain-engaging, effective memorization activity. 

By mixing in visual aids, color coding, and a dash of personalization, you can create a powerful toolkit for learning that’s tailored just for you.

how to use printable flashcard maker

How to customize certain types of flashcards for learning different subjects

Tailoring Flashcards for Language Learning

When it comes to language learning, it's all about making connections. You're not just memorizing words — you're building a word web of knowledge that links sounds to meanings and pictures to phrases. Here's how to best make flashcards when learning a new language:

  • Insert images: On one side of the flashcard, write the word in the language you're learning. On the other side, instead of writing the translation, add a picture. This helps your brain make a direct link between the word and its meaning without translating it back into your native language. (This is why I added image mode and the AI image creation feature on my flashcard app here)

  • Key phrases, Not Just Words: Context is king. Instead of single words, writing down phrases or sentences can help you build that word web by connecting vocabulary words to other words in your target language instead of your native language. Knowing how a word is used in context cements it in your mind for long-term memory.

  • Speak Up: Saying the word or phrase out loud as you study the flashcard adds an audio dimension to your learning because you making your brain physically produce the sound (and active recall), making it stick even better in your memory when you need it.

Creating Flashcards for Scientific Formulas and Concepts

Science can sometimes seem like it's written in its special language, but if you’re in some kind of science-related field that might feel like an easy language for you. For the rest of us, flashcards can help you decipher the code:

  • Formula on the Front, Application on the Back: Write the formula you need to remember on one side of the flashcard. On the flip side, describe a scenario where this formula is used, along with a solved example. This helps you see not just the formula, but also how and why it's used.

  • Diagram it up: For concepts that involve processes or parts, diagrams are your best friend. Draw the process or label parts on one side of the flashcard, and on the back, explain each step or part in simple words that are easy for you to understand when looking at quickly.

Flashcards for Historical Dates and Events: A Storytelling Approach

Remembering dates and events can sometimes feel like trying to memorize the phone book — tedious and borderline impossible. But what if we turn those dates and events into stories?

  • Timeline Tales: Instead of just writing down a date and the event, try to make a little story around it. For instance, "In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue." It's catchy, it rhymes, and it suddenly makes the date much easier to remember.
    Character Cards: Historical figures can often feel distant and hard to relate to. Create flashcards that focus on intriguing facts about the real them, turning them into characters in an interesting story rather than just boring names in a textbook.

Including these personalized and creative flashcard techniques across different subjects doesn't just make learning more effective, it makes it a whole lot more enjoyable too. 

By engaging different parts of your brain and adding a dash of creativity, you'll find yourself actually looking forward to your next study session, knowing just how effective it can be. So why not give these techniques a shot? Your brain, language skills, and test scores, will all thank you later.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Making Flashcards

If you want to learn how to make flashcards quickly and easily, all of the above information should help you make sure your own cards have all the essential information they need to help you in your self study efforts.

Remember, the goal is to have the key term and then something that activates your neural pathways on the other side to aid in long-term memory formation.

It's up to you to choose what that is, but please remember these 3 tips to make sure you avoid the most common flashcard mistakes.

Cramming Too Much Info: 

Ever seen a flashcard so packed with info it looks like a mini encyclopedia? Don’t be that person. The trick is to keep it simple. One idea per card is your golden rule.

If you're trying to remember the parts of the brain, don't list them all on one card. Break it down. Keep it manageable.

Being Too Vague: 

On the flip side of putting too much, being too mysterious won't help either. If your card is for the term "Photosynthesis," but the back only says “how plants eat”, that’s not quite enough info to understand what you need to know about how the process works.

Be specific and clear, and you'll stay on the right track.

Skipping the Examples: 

Examples are like flashcard gold. They turn an abstract concept into something you can (metaphorically) touch, feel, and remember. If you're learning vocabulary, don't just write the definition. Include a sentence that shows how it’s used.

Trust me, it's a game-changer, and it’s why I included it on my flashcard tool here.

Taking your next steps

Whether or not I’ve convinced you to try out my flashcard maker here at the Weaver School, I hope I’ve given you enough helpful information that you can use flashcards to learn whatever it is you need. 

Making flashcards, as I said at the beginning of the post, is one of the oldest tricks in the book for good reason: they work. Whether you prefer going the physical route, using Google Docs or Microsoft Word to create flashcard templates and then printing them yourself, or you prefer something easier like mobile apps, there's something out there for everyone.

With all these strategies and techniques to choose from in this post, I have no doubt you’ll find a way to use them to help you succeed.

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Lucas Weaver from the Weaver School

Lucas Weaver founded The Weaver School in 2016. He's passionate about using the latest learnings in neuroscience and education to create the best language learning experience possible for our students, so they can quickly build effective language learning habits that will last for years. Lucas is a graduate of Texas A&M University and after 7 years of living in the Netherlands, he is currently traveling through Southeast Asia while learning their languages along the way.

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