FAQ: Using HTML in SuperMemo

See also: Problems with HTML

Use HTML filters on unruly pages
(Beta, Max, February, February 2002)
I imported a page from cnn.com but cannot edit it. In addition it shows many script errors
Use HTML filter with F6. Check Scripts to remove scripts from the page. If you have editing problems (e.g. deleting objects, texts, etc.), check other relevant filtering options. Tables are particularly troublesome. If you do not need tables, filter them out

HTML headers are always bold
(Beta, Feb 07, 2002)
Ctrl+B does not seem to work in some texts in HTML?
Your text could be part of a header. See the source with Ctrl+Shift+F6 and look at the tags enclosing your text. Here is an example:

<h4>api: Launching applications in Windows</h4>

To make this code sensitive to Ctrl+B you could remove the starting <h4> or move the closing tag. 
If you change to:

<h4>api:</h4> Launching applications in Windows

The text following the closing tag will become sensitive to bold setting again. 

If you do not want to deal with HTML tags, simply select the offending text and choose Text : Convert : Parse HTML on the component menu (Ctrl+Shift+1)(older versions: deHTML-ize). This will convert the selected text to plain text

Integrating pictures with HTML pages
(Beta, Sun, Feb 17, 2002 14:27)
I saved a web page to a disk while connected to the Internet. Then I pasted it to SuperMemo. SuperMemo did not integrate pictures from that page with my collection
If you paste HTML, SuperMemo will redirect all pointers to external resources without copying them. This refers to both local and remote resources. If you want to integrate whole pages with the collection, use Import file on the HTML component menu. This will integrate pictures, scripts, frames and other objects associated with the page. Note that even small pages may point to resources of considerable size. A better method might be to paste a portion of the page to SuperMemo, apply an HTML filter and then localize the resources by re-saving the page with Internet Explorer (see other FAQ entries for hints). In addition, if you process an integrated page with incremental reading, you need to keep the parent document in order to retain extracted objects in its children

Images in HTML can become unavailable
(Tom Kinderwart, Jun 12, 2002)
SuperMemo often displays the very same HTML-article with the images loaded and sometimes without (the same happens in IE)
This happens when SuperMemo cannot access images. The most likely reasons are: 

  1. images are remote and you are not on-line 
  2. images are available over the network and the network connection is off 
  3. images have been internalized (e.g. Edit : Add to category : HTML file) and you have deleted the parent article (only the parent article keeps the copy of all images and other objects) 
  4. you pasted HTML from a local file and this file has been deleted (use Import File instead if you want images internalized, i.e. incorporated in the collection)

Inspecting the hyperlink
(Beta, Feb 16, 2002)
How can I see what file will be opened when I click a hyperlink?
Hover over the link with the mouse and see the status bar. If you are in the editing mode, you will need to press Esc to get to the presentation mode for this to work

Ignore font sizes option
(Beta February, February 2002)
When I try to change the size of fonts in HTML components nothing happens
This will happen if your Internet Explorer is set to ignore font size. This can be set in Internet Explorer (not in SuperMemo) at Tools : Internet Options : General : Accessibility : Ignore font sizes (specified on webpages)

Default font in HTML
How can I save the default font with an empty HTML template? I want fonts in a specific color
Leave the font tag in the template and save it with objects. For example, delete texts from the HTML component, type in Space and select it (you cannot change color of empty text), choose the font color, and choose Template : Save with objects. The following object (HTML text) will be stored within the template: <FONT color=#ff0000>&nbsp;</FONT>

Increasing the font size in all texts
(Beta, Feb 14, 2002)
What is the fastest way to increase the size of fonts in all texts
Press Ctrl+] in the display mode. If no texts are edited, the whole element will be affected

You can insert HTML code directly into formatted text
(Beta, Feb 08, 2002)
How can I insert a horizontal line in the text without playing with HTML component source code?
Insert some code, e.g. <hr>, select it, and choose Text : Convert : Parse HTML (Ctrl+Shift+1)(older versions: deHTML-ize)

You can insert a horizontal line in HTML
(pw, Nov 08, 2003)
How can I insert a horizontal line in HTML components?
Type <hr>, select it, and choose Text : Convert : Parse HTML on the component menu (Ctrl+Shift+1)(older versions: deHTML-ize)

Latest Internet Explorer is needed for full functionality
(Fred, Deb, Cameron, Samuel, Tue, Feb 12, 2002 4:06)
When I go to select Import Web Pages, I get an error message saying "Interface not supported..."
This option requires Internet Explorer 6.0 or later (free). It communicates with the browser by means of interfaces not supported by Internet Explorer 5.5 or earlier. Hence the error

How to determine the default HTML editor for SuperMemo?
(Jiri , Wednesday, October 01, 2003 6:15 PM)
I want to use Front Page to edit HTML in SuperMemo. I use Control Panel : Folder Options : File Types : Advanced : Edit to determine the default editor. However, my value is replaced by "C:\Programme\Microsoft Office\Office10\msohtmed.exe" %1
You need to refer to Microsoft documentation to solve errors in associating HTML extensions with FrontPage (several have been documented). MsoHtmEd.exe is a multipurpose utility that should launch FrontPage and warn you if the default HTML editor set in Internet Explorer is different.

Also read: Open HTML files in the default HTML editor

Live pages should only be used for elements with dynamic content
(Beta, Robert, Poland, 2002-03-05 14:56:52)
Implementing of "live pages import" is a bit reckless. If I add new item to the collection I expect that the item will remain there until I delete it. A live web page can disappear in any moment
This option is specifically designed for pages that get periodically updated. You should use Local pages if you want the page to be imported permanently to SuperMemo (remote objects, e.g. pictures, may still disappear if the remote server is down or is cancelled) or add as Links if you want to process the page later. Live pages import can be useful to load, for example, the latest science news. Once the science news page comes up in incremental reading, you may opt to import some new science articles and reschedule the review of the news page to a specific date in the future depending on your workload and priorities

Location of resources determines the HTML import method
When importing web pages (Shift+Ctrl+A), I was importing files stored on a floppy. After this SuperMemo tries to access the (no longer available) floppy when loading the page. Grrr!
You always need to choose the appropriate import method depending on how the files are to be made available. Every web page is composed of HTML and of accompanying objects (e.g. pictures). Your imported files can be made locally internalized (inside your SuperMemo collection), locally external (outside of your collection but on a local network) or remote (on a remote web server, accessed via HTTP). 

For various combinations of resource locations, you will use various import methods. Here are the most typical combinations: 

HTML Objects Methods
internalized internalized
  1. Import File on the HTML component menu (if the HTML component exists)
  2. Edit : Add to category : HTML file (if you want to create a new HTML element)
internalized external Paste HTML from your browser:
  1. Paste HTML from the clipboard (if the HTML component exists)
  2. Use Edit : Add a new article (Ctrl+Alt+N)(if you want to create a new HTML element)

Do not delete the external file that keeps the objects. If your network connection fails, objects will become unavailable 

internalized remote Paste HTML from your browser (as above) or use Import web pages

If your Internet connection is not available, objects will become inaccessible. 

This is the most popular method that internalizes HTML but saves space on your hard disk by leaving objects remote

external external Use Links : External file on the HTML component menu 
remote remote
  1. Import web pages with Live pages checked (if you have more pages to import)

Usually you will want to keep your HTML internalized and objects remote. However, if you want to internalize both HTML and the objects, save the web page on your disk (use Web page complete option in Internet Explorer) and use Edit : Add to category : HTML file

You can type Unicode in HTML (e.g. Arabic, Chinese, etc.)
(Martin, Sep 09, 2004, 02:53:53)
I would like to type in a couple of Unicode characters to SuperMemo, but I do not have the keyboard setting to get them. For example, how could I get character with the code 1692?
In HTML component, type the following: 
Then select the entire code (from ampersand & to semicolon ;) and choose Text : Convert : Parse HTML on the component menu (Ctrl+Shift+1)(older versions: deHTML-ize). Your code will be converted to the appropriate glyph (in this case to: ڜ). Remember that you need to have the corresponding font installed for the glyph to show correctly

You will hit many snags when using Microsoft filters
(Beta, Max, Fri, Feb 22, 2002 19:18)
I learn linear algebra. If I generate some HTML files in Front Page and paste them to SuperMemo, I lose some formatting. Then I get more surprises when I do extracts and cloze operations on my matrix formulas.
Unfortunately, Front Page and SuperMemo use different HTML editing interfaces. Consequently, they will often behave in an entirely different way. However, all the conversions will be executed by various Microsoft filters that carry innumerous incompatibility issues. SuperMemo may have little or no influence on the final outcome. You will get entirely different effects when you paste via your browser, directly from Front Page, via MS Word, via WordPad or via Notepad. You may need lots of patience before you figure out your best solutions. Sometimes, pasting to rich components in SuperMemo and then upgrading to HTML will produce a better result than pasting directly from Microsoft product to mshtml-based HTML editor in SuperMemo. At times, you may find it least frustrating to use images to represent mathematical formulas and occlusion templates to generate items related to mathematics

Cannot use HTML template
(Beta, Czech Republic, 8.3.2002 8:52:43)
There is no straight way to insert an article in the HTML form. When you insert an article, the RTF component is used instead of HTML
This can happen in your collections created with earlier SuperMemos. Only SuperMemo 2002 or later uses HTML templates by default. To get similar behavior in your old collections you must change the topic and/or item template in relevant categories. You can use Add predefined templates in the template registry to add a few most often used HTML template

Using text-less HTML
(Cezary Gorzenski, Poland, Jul 26, 2004, 19:34:06)
I would like to import HTML files that are "picture only". SuperMemo often gives them the same name and is "blind" to the difference
Pictures are best kept in the image component. Use Ctrl+V to paste the picture to the element or to an image component (do not paste to HTML). A remedy to ambiguous registry names is to use registry Rename. If you provide picture-only HTML files with unique names, SuperMemo will not confuse them

Unavailable objects in imported articles may invoke automatic dial-up connections
(Christian & Aimee, Saturday, January 18, 2003 3:27 AM)
How can I prevent SuperMemo from connecting to the Internet when I am reading HTML text?
It happens very often if you import web pages into SuperMemo by means of the wholesale import option (Edit : Import web pages) with the Local pages option selected. This option imports web pages into SuperMemo but all objects (e.g. images) nested in an imported article remains available over the network (i.e. if you disconnect from the Internet all these objects will become unavailable). You must also have the automatic attempt to connect using your default Internet connection set in your Windows settings. Therefore, while making repetitions you hit an article with objects available over the network, your Windows will automatically dial your default connection. There are two basic solutions:

  1. Run Internet Explorer, choose Tools : Internet options from its main menu, click the Connections tab, and select the Never dial a connection radio button. Then, in order to connect to the Internet, you will have to first manually start your dial-up connection
  2. Instead of the wholesale import option, you should rather select a given text in a browser, copy it to the clipboard, and paste it as an article to SuperMemo. If you would like to add images to your SuperMemo, you could right-click an image, select copy from its context menu, and paste it into the element.
    Alternatively, you could select a given text together with images, and, upon pasting it into SuperMemo, use Download images (Ctrl+F8) from the component menu to import the images into your collection and insert them into the current element

You can drag pictures to HTML components in editing mode
(Nathan Forsdyke, Mon, Jun 10, 2002 22:39)
I cannot drag in a picture from Internet Explorer into an element
You can drag pictures into HTML components as long as they are in the editing mode. 

To drag a picture to SuperMemo, do the following:


You can remove HTML tags from a portion of HTML text
(John Adamson, Jul 17, 2002)
I pasted a text file with line breaks. How to get read of the line breaks? This is my text, which I want to flow continuously: 

Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic systemic disease
characterized by inflammation of connective tissue. 
Joint deformity and disability, 
accompanied by pain, often result. 
Rheumatoid arthritis is characterized by spontaneous 
flares and remissions.

If this was imported to HTML components, you can select the text and choose Text : Convert : Parse HTML on the component menu (Ctrl+Shift+1)(older versions: deHTML-ize). This will remove all HTML tags (including line breaks)

When importing formatted Q&A, use HTML components, but do not rename your file to HTML
(Alexander A Klimenko, France, Mar 19, 2005, 02:12:27)
I was advised to format my Q&A file in HTML; however, the import process takes place; but, in the end, nothing comes out on the page
Make sure of the following:

To create an HTML-formatted Q&A file importable to SuperMemo do the following:

Create a standard Q&A file. For example:

Q: hist: When was the Internet born?
A: 1969

Q: hist: When did we land on the moon?
A: 1969 (July 20)

Q: hist: Hiroshima was bombed on Aug 6, [...]
A: 1945

Format the file using HTML tags (do not rename the extension to HTM/HTML). For example:

Q: hist: When was <i>the Internet</i> born?
A: 1969

Q: hist: When did we <b>land on the moon</b>?
A: 1969 (July 20)

Q: hist: <font color="#FF0000" face="Arial">Hiroshima</font> was bombed on Aug 6, [...]
A: 1945

In SuperMemo choose: File : Import : Q&A text to import the file.

The file should import as:

hist: When was the Internet born?

hist: When did we land on the moon?
1969 (July 20)

hist: Hiroshima was bombed on Aug 6, [...]

See an examplary file: History

It is possible to use Acrobat Reader files with SuperMemo
(Mala Kaur, Tuesday, July 24, 2001 6:03 AM)
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
Another approach is to use the HTML component. Use Insert HTML link : HTML file (on the HTML component menu) and link to the PDF file. Using this option the PDF file is not immediately visible as only files of type *.txt,*.htm, *.html, *.xml, *.rtf, *.flt are listed. To display the PDF files on your drive type in *.pdf in the file name field and they become visible in the File pane. 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.

Choosing template for e-mail processing
(Terje A. Tonsberg, 19/05/2002 03:24:14)
How can I make e-mails use HTML automatically? They always come out RTF
To change the template used by e-mail added with Ctrl+Alt+E, open the current category, click Topic template and select an HTML-based template (e.g. "Article"). By default, e-mail processing uses HTML templates. This may not be the case if you upgrade your collection from SuperMemo 2000 where RTF was the default format for incremental reading. In such a case you may need to define your own HTML template or use Add predefined templates from the template registry menu