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Use Categories Effectively

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One of the under-utilized features of WinFlash is its support of category information within study files. A single file can support up to 200 categories and each category name can be up to 20 characters in length. A category is assigned to a pair in the WinFlash Editor - see Categories, Hints, Comments and More!! for details on the mechanics of assigning categories.

When beginning a new study file, take a few minutes to decide on a useful organization for the file's categories.  For instance, if the file is a growing list of spelling words, you might decide to use the beginning letter of each word as its category.  Thus the categories would be the letters A through Z.  Since this only requires 26 categories, you could go further and categorize by common parts of speech - Verb, Noun and Other (this would result in 26x3 or 78 categories). In this case a category example would be "Noun-A". When we created the flashcard file of Canadian provincial and territorial capitals, we used the category to indicate whether the subject of the question was a province or territory.

Once you make the extra effort to add category information to your files you'll be able to take advantage of the filtering available in the Options|Pair Order & Size panel. Using this feature you can study subsets of your file that include some combination of categories but not the rest.  In the first example above you might choose to study just the words beginning with 'Q' if these were difficult for you; in the second you might choose all the nouns.

Categories can be used to segment your files in a number of ways: the book chapter the information is from, the alphabetic organization of the information, the week the information was added, etc.  Just keep in mind the limitations of 20 characters for the category name and 200 categories per file when designing your category system.

You'll also find categories useful when creating "Composite Source Files" - i.e. output files comprised of subsets of one or two different input files.  For instance, if you had French vocabulary in two files, one from each of two previous years, and they were categorized by parts of speech, you could create a third file using the nouns from both of the original files.

Experiment with using the category feature when you create your files and you'll find it useful in a number of ways!

Note: The category list is sorted alphabetically, but remember that numbers come before letters, so if you have categories 1. Nouns, 2. Adjectives, 3. Verbs they will appear in that order in the list not 2. Adjectives, 1. Nouns, 3. Verbs.  If you want the words, not the numbers to dominate the sort, put the numbers to the RIGHT - e.g. Nouns - 1, Adjectives - 2, Verbs - 3.  This WILL sort as Adjectives - 2,  Nouns - 1,  Verbs - 3.



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