Setting up Anki to learn Chinese

To be fair I’d like to point out that this text will hardly contain any pieces of information that cannot be found in the Anki manual, Wikipedia and some other sites. So if you’re interested and not too busy I’d recommend taking your time and (at least) reading the manual.

Using Anki


Anki’s philosophy follows an object-oriented programming paradigm. Notes are Anki’s equivalent of objects, storing the data using fields to store single pieces of information. To review you need cards, which are the visual representation of (selected subset of) a note. Do not store information in separate decks (like english-chinese, chinese-english) so that in case you need to edit something you only need to do it once.

“Special effects”

  • typing the answer: {{type:FIELDNAME}}
  • conditional statements: {{#FIELDNAME}}…{{/FIELDNAME}}
  • hints: {{hint:FIELDNAME}}
  • the odd one: {{cloze:FIELDNAME}}


To test e.g. only english-hanzi, do a logical search like “(card:3 or card:5) deck:中文” if you have the same cards (in particular in the same order - that’s what the number refers to) as mentioned below.

Setting up Anki for Chinese

Chinese support introduces (amongst others) the following fields:

  • Hanzi
  • Meaning
  • Reading
  • Color
  • Sound
  • Traditional
  • Simplified

I’d recommend also adding the following fields:

  • Stroke Order Diagram
  • Sentence (example sentences)
  • Similar (Hanzi that look similar)

As for the cards, I found the following to be helpful:

  1. Hanzi → Pinyin
  2. Hanzi → Meaning
  3. Meaning → Hanzi
  4. Meaning → Pinyin
  5. Listening → Hanzi
  6. Listening → Meaning

Does Japanese help?

Kind of. The “Traditional” field helps sometimes. See e.g. Wikipedia on how Hanzi and Kanji diverged.