Can you help improve my question types?

I am using Anki to improve active recall of my general knowledge - in casual conversation, when connecting to new knowledge, etc.

Given this goal, I’m concerned that my cards have become a bit unwieldy in terms of possibly not asking questions in an optimal way, or adding too much info on to a single card etc. i realise there are different philosophies around this but I’d be grateful to hear a few opinions to decide what’s best. Here is the current breakdown of the types of card in my deck:

Simple Q&A

Short questions with one or multiple somewhat “atomic” answers, e.g.

Simple Q with short but more narrative-based answer

Same as before but where answers are somewhat longer, e.g.

Longer narrative

There are cards where what I am trying to recall is more of a story, with the answer either written as pure narrative (highlighting most salient/interesting facts) or a kind of mixture of narrative and facts, e.g.

Two final points I’ll make:

  • In terms of question formation, the tricky part is that none of these are for a test, so to speak - so I’m seeing the Q&A holistically as something I’d like to remember given sufficient natural prompting in daily life.

  • Someone mentioned to me once that a sequential cloze deletion script may be helpful for some of this - curious what others think.

Anyway, thank you in advance for any advice you might be able to give in terms of how I could structure these cards better in order to aid with their recall!

Try to be more precise in your questions and more concise in your answers:

With some of the cards, I wouldn’t know what the question was about weeks after it was created. It is also possible with some cards that you can only retrieve the correct information in the context of the prompt (“Musk Bio Part 1”). I would choose more specific formulations.

Instead of "How are we likely to solve air travel?

Q: “What approaches can be used to reduce the contribution of air travel to global warming? (five)” (Five is an indication of how many points should be retrieved as a minimum).


  • Development of alternative engines
  • Fuel taxation
  • Pricing of CO2 emissions
  • Flight routes with reduced condensation trails

On the back of my cards, next to the answer field, there is a field called “Extra”. If necessary, further information can be added there, such as explanations or overview graphics. I learn the contents passively. This way, the answer field can be kept short.

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Thank you, very helpful!

Regarding the Musk bio example, what might you write instead?

Again, more precise question, short answers and context in some extra field.

Q: In which country was Elon Musk born?

A: South Africa


Born 1971 in Pretoria
Mother (Maye Musk) from Canada, father South African
Wealthy parental home
Family opposed apartheid

Thanks. So you would suggest breaking down the long narrative question types into long sub-questions?

And the “extra” part - I’m not supposed to be testing myself on / trying to remember these parts necessarily?

I would always advocate for questions long enough to make it clear what you actually have to answer and to make cards unique through supplemental information that provides context and explanation without being prompted. And yes, I try to avoid to have just one isolated card on a topic. Regarding your livestock example you could add questions like:

  • Which livestock farming has the largest carbon footprint?
  • Which greenhouse gas plays a major role in cattle farming besides CO2?

Try out what works for you. Some recommendations to read:

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Thank you, much appreciated.

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