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Contents : Overviews
Using various text components in SuperMemo

Text is the primary form of expression in SuperMemo. Images are very valuable; however, they consume lots of disk space and are not searchable by content (you can search the image registry with Ctrl+S by using the text of image names). Lots of time you spend with SuperMemo will rely on processing texts. This is why your decisions about choosing appropriate text components are important.

Plain text components have traditionally been the most often used text components in earlier versions of SuperMemo. These consume little space and can be searched at high speeds with SuperMemo low-level search procedures. With the advent of incremental reading; however, rich text components have become the default text components in SuperMemo. Rich text components provide many formatting options; however, they consume substantially more disk space. To save space, use Classic template instead of Standard template in your items (see: Using templates). Optimally, you should use rich text components with your reading options and impose classic plain text template on items that have assumed their final shape in the course of knowledge processing.

The table below summarizes pros and cons of various text components in SuperMemo:

    Type Advantages Disadvantages Typical use
    Plain text component 

    This component is use by the Classic template

    1. small size
    2. speed
    3. font modifiable via templates
    4. search possible
    5. search&replace possible (including Apply filter)
    6. automatic translation and phonetic transcription
    1. no formatting
    2. reading options do not format the text
    1. typical question-and-answer items
    Rich text component (RTF)

    This component is the default text component in SuperMemo 2000

    1. rich formatting possible (e.g. many fonts in one text component)
    2. reading options let you mark cloze and extract fragments with a separate font
    3. search possible
    1. large size of files
    2. slow processing of long texts
    3. cannot modify font with templates
    4. search&replace not possible (including filters)
    5. translation and phonetic transcription not available
    1. reading lists, reading paragraphs, extracts and cloze deletions
    2. richly formatted text (e.g. in topics)
    HTML component
    1. full HTML and JavaScript support
    2. images can be inserted in text
    3. search possible
    1. Internet Explorer required
    2. slow processing
    3. difficult editing (knowledge of HTML or HTML editor required)
    4. large size of files
    5. all texts kept in separate files
    6. cannot modify font via templates
    7. search&replace not possible (including filters)
    8. translation and phonetic transcription not available
    1. HTML files
    2. whole websites
    3. text interlaced with images
    4. files that can be displayed in Internet Explorer (e.g. XLS, PDF, DOC, RTF, GIF, etc.; see FAQ below)
    Spelling component
    1. used for spelling tests
    2. small size
    3. speed
    4. font modifiable via templates
    5. search possible
    6. search&replace possible
    1. useless beyond spelling tests 
    1. spelling exercises
    OLE component
    1. using proprietary formats (e.g. MS Word format)
    2. images can be inserted in texts
    3. using mind-maps
    1. very large size of files
    2. files can only be edited if the proprietary editor is installed
    3. words do not enter the lexicon 
    4. search not possible
    5. search&replace not possible
    6. translation and phonetic transcription not available
    7. may be unstable if there are problems with OLE server communication
    8. cannot modify font via templates
    1. imported files
    2. spreadsheets
    3. text interlaced with images
    Sound component
    1. sound can be associated with the text
    2. search possible
    3. search&replace possible (including Apply filter)
    4. font modifiable via templates
    1. very slow
    2. cannot be made transparent
    3. provide no advantages if no sound is associated
    1. pronunciation exercises
    2. learning material read by a speaker
    Image component
    1. can represent most complex formatting needed for mathematical or chemical formulas
    1. very large size of files
    2. slow
    3. words do not enter the lexicon 
    4. search not possible
    5. search&replace not possible
    6. translation and phonetic transcription not available
    7. cannot modify font via templates
    1. complex formulas that are hard to represent by other methods

Frequently Asked Questions


Use plain text components in templates if you want to customize the font
Pictures cannot be pasted to rich text components

Rich texts in SuperMemo behave like WordPad

It is possible to use Acrobat Reader files with SuperMemo


Pictures cannot be pasted to rich text components
(MSmith, Nov 1, 2000)

Question:
Why can I not paste pictures into the rich text component?
Answer:
You need to use Image component for handling pictures. SuperMemo uses Microsoft's Rich Edit 1.0 control that does not support pictures (except via OLE)


Use plain text components in templates if you want to customize the font
(Adam, Australia, Wed, May 23, 2001 4:32)
Question:
Rich-text format field does not seem to remember a custom font name when in a custom template. I am trying to create a default template. There are just two standard RTF fields, but I am using different fonts: Arial, Rockwell, etc. When I save a new template as default, and create a new element, the fonts always show up as MS Sans Seriff
Answer:
It is enough you use plain text components instead of rich text components (RTF fields). Rich text components do not have fonts associated as these are encoded inside RTF files


It is possible to use Acrobat Reader files with SuperMemo
(Mala Kaur, Tuesday, July 24, 2001 6:03 AM)
Question:
I wanted to import PDF files to SuperMemo for reading and copying certain items for further analysis. I initially tried to use Insert as an OLE object but I found OLE mechanisms unstable
Answer:
Another approach is to use the web browser (HTML) component. Then use Insert HTML link : HTML file (on the HTML component pop-up menu) and link to the PDF file. Using this option the PDF file is not immediately visible as only files of type *.txt,*.htm, *.rtf are listed. To visualize the PDF files on your drive type in *.pdf in the file name field and they become visible in the File window. Naturally, you need to have Acrobat Reader installed to view the file in SuperMemo. You can, of course, copy the text with the tools provided for the PDF viewer and use it for further SuperMemo purposes. The same method works for Excel files, Word files, etc.


Rich texts in SuperMemo behave like WordPad (#5730)
(Walter G. Mayfield, Jr., Thursday, July 12, 2001 4:02 AM)
Question:
For some reason my text bullets are clock faces, is there a way to change this to regular bullets through the text registry?
Answer:
Rich text components in SuperMemo are based on Windows Rich Edit control. This implies that their behavior should mirror that of Windows WordPad. Bullet customization must be happening outside SuperMemo. You can use Edit : Edit file on the component menu (F9) to edit your texts in your default word processor (e.g. WordPad or MS Word). You can also use Edit : View source (F12) to edit low-level rtf code (only for advanced users!)


Rich text components need to be printed separately (#6479)
(Ronn, Tuesday, August 28, 2001 4:26 AM)
Question:
I have been trying to print out the questions and answer element. I click on print and all I get is a blank sheet of paper
Answer:
Rich text components do not get printed along the element content. You can work around this problem in the following ways: 

1. Using Text : Print on the rich text component pop-up menu (right click) 

2. Copying questions and answers via clipboard (e.g. Ctrl+C

3. Using plain text components instead of rich text components (e.g. apply Classic template

All this trouble results from a bug in Delphi VCL library (SuperMemo development tool) that fails to print RTF texts on form printouts