Element parameters

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Items, Topics and Concepts

If you choose Edit : Edit parameters on the element menu, or press Ctrl+Shift+P, a dialog box with the following parameters will open:

SuperMemo: The Element tab in the element parameters dialog box
  • Title - title of the element
  • Interval - the interval between the last repetition and the next repetition (in days). Click the Calendar button to the right to change the interval by selecting a calendar date
  • Next repetition - date of the next repetition. Click the Calendar button to the right to change the date of the next repetition by selecting a calendar date or an interval
  • Priority - priority of the element (% position in the priority queue). The lower the number, the higher the priority
  • Ordinal - current ordinal number assigned to the element. You can use ordinals to sort the pending queue. This is particularly useful if you plan to release your own collection for use by others
  • Forgetting index - current forgetting index requested for the element. Forgetting index will determine how well you remember the element. Forgetting index is not used by topics or tasks, but will take effect once you generate new items from the topic (e.g. with Remember cloze)
  • A-Factor - current A-Factor associated with the element. In SuperMemo 18, A-Factors reflect the way topic intervals are computed. The greater the A-Factor, the longer the intervals between successive reviews
  • Element type - determine the type of the element: item, topic, concept or task
  • Group - makes it possible to move the element to another concept group (i.e. different location in the Contents window, different look, etc.)
  • Template - makes it possible to change the way your current element looks (by applying a template)
  • Comment - the comment associated with the element. If you want to write a multi-line comment, use Ctrl+Enter to begin a new line (Enter will accept the setting and close the dialog box)
  • buttons at the bottom of the dialog window:
    • History - displays the window with the element's repetition history
    • Difficulty - displays the difficulty of the item and how it is computed (this option works only for memorized items)
    • OK - accepts changes to the element's parameters
    • Cancel - discards changes to the element's parameters
    • Help - displays this help page

You are most likely to use the element parameters dialog box in the following circumstances (sorted by importance):

  1. Changing element's forgetting index (open the dialog, press Alt+F, and type in the new value).
  2. Moving the element to another concept group (open the dialog, choose another concept group in the Group drop-down menu, and click OK)
  3. Changing the element's template when moving to another concept group. If you only want to change the template of the element, it is faster to use Apply template (Shift+Ctrl+M)
  4. Changing element's priority. More often though, you are likely to use Alt+P to change element's priority by percent or by position
  5. Changing element's A-Factor in incremental reading. Set A-Factor to 1.01 if you want your article to come up often in incremental reading (you can use 0 to make SuperMemo choose lowest possible value). Set A-Factor to 1.5 or more if the article is of lower priority. You can also change A-Factor in topics without opening this dialog with Shift+Ctrl+Up arrow or Shift+Ctrl+Down arrow
  6. Changing element's ordinal (open the dialog, press Alt+O, and type in the new value).
  7. Adding a comment (type it in the Comment field)
  8. Viewing the details of difficulty estimation for a given element (click Difficulty). This option is also available by right-clicking of the Element data window and choosing Difficulty from the context menu.


Elements that are tasks have the Task tab enabled in the Element parameters dialog box:

SuperMemo: The Task tab of the Element parameters dialog box

The Task tab includes the following task parameters (this tab is invisible for all remaining element types):

  • Tasklist - the tasklist to which the displayed task belongs. You can move the task to another tasklist by selecting the new tasklist in this combo box. You can edit tasklists using the tasklist manager
  • Description - description of the task that will be displayed in the tasklist manager. This description is also used by default as the title of the task element and as the initial contents of the component that is used to describe the task in detail. If you want to write a multi-line description, use Ctrl+Enter to begin a new line (Enter will accept the setting and close the dialog box)
  • Value - value of the task
  • Pos - position of the task on the currently selected tasklist. Note that it may differ from the position in the tasklist manager as tasks with the same Val/Time ratio are reshuffled randomly)
  • Time - time (in hours) needed to execute the task. E.g. if you think it will take you 10 min to complete the task, type 0.16.
  • Val/Time - task priority expressed in value earned in unit time (priority=value/time). Note that the deadline function may modify the actual value of Val/Time on a given day
  • Max - maximum task priority, i.e. priority without considering the deadline function. This value is not used in sorting the tasklist
  • Introduced - the date on which the task has been introduced into the collection
  • Deadline - the deadline for executing the task (see Deadline function below)
  • Half-Time - the time at which the priority of the task will reach half of its maximum value before reaching the maximum on the deadline date (see Deadline function below)
  • Deadline function - the function that determines how the priority of the task changes with passing time
    • None - Val/Time is always equal its maximum value displayed as Max. This function is typical for reading lists where there are no reading deadlines
    • Standard - standard deadline function in which the priority increases gradually to reach Max/2 at Half-Time and Max at Deadline. If there is a deadline for a task, usually it becomes truly urgent only directly before the deadline. Your phone bill payment might be a typical example of standard deadline function
    • Post-Date - priority is zero until the Deadline and Max after the deadline. This function is useful for tasks that cannot be done before a certain date or which make no sense before a date. An example of post-date task might be buying a ticket that will become available only on a certain date
    • Decline - priority declines gradually from its peak value of Max to Max/2 at Half-Time. This function can be used for tasks that gradually decline in value. Responding to an e-mail is often subject to declining priority. Very often, the older the e-mail the less sense it makes to respond to it
    • Post-Decline - priority declines gradually from its peak value of Max at Deadline to Max/2 at Half-Time. This function can be used for tasks that gradually decline in value after some date. An example of a post-decline tasks is sending congratulations on the occasion of an appointment to a new position. It does not make sense before the position is actually taken over and it gradually becomes obsolete after the fact