This refers to Moodle 4.1 from December 2023 onwards

Moodle Help & Support 


A glossary can be used in the obvious way to give a term and a definition. It can also be used as an FAQ. Example uses include:

  • students create the terms and definitions, adding terms as they come across them
  • as an FAQ - students ask questions and the teacher answers them - can often be started off from a series of known frequently asked questions from teacher emails or a course forum
  • create a collaborative encyclopaedia on any topic relevant to your module
  • collect tips and tricks, recipes, book reviews

How to create a glossary

1. Navigate to your course and click on the 'Edit mode' slider to enable editing.

Edit mode slider with edit enabled

2. In the section where you want to create your web page click on the Add an activity or resource hyperlink. 

Add an activity or resource link

3. This will open the activity picker. Click on the 'Glossary' word to select this resource.

Glossary icon from activity picker

This will open a new page. Give your glossary a 'Name' and, if you wish, a 'Description'. 

Giving a new glossary a name and description

3. Under the heading Appearance, choose the number of 'Entries shown per page' (default 10).

4. Check other settings (normally defaults are fine except that we recommend NOT to Automatically link glossary entries) See below for format settings.

NOTE: One of the settings you can choose under the Appearance heading is 'Display format'. This is useful if you are using the tool as an FAQ or would like to show a really simple dictionary style entry or a fuller one with names of the students who contributed the items.

Display format dropdown

 There are 7 display formats: 

  • Continuous without author: Entries are displayed one after another without any separation apart from the editing icons.
  • Encyclopaedia: As for "Full with author" but attached images are shown inline.
  • Entry list: Concepts are listed as links.
  • FAQ: The words "Question" and "Answer" are appended to the concept and definition respectively.
  • Full with author: A forum-like display format showing the author's data and with attachments shown as links.
  • Full without author: A forum-like display format without authors and with attachments shown as links.
  • Simple, dictionary style: No authors are displayed and attachments are shown as links.

5. Click on the Save and return to module or Save and display buttons

Save buttons

6. When you have finished, don't forget to disable editing by clicking on the 'Edit mode' slider to disable editing.

Edit mode slider with edit disabled

To add an entry

Once the Glossary has been created you can start adding entries. To add an entry:

1. Open the glossary from the Moodle page and click on the 'Add entry' button.

Add entry button

2. Enter the 'Concept' and 'Definition' fields

Adding a concept and definition to a glossary

3. Adjust any other settings including adding 'Categories', 'Keyword/s' and an 'Attachment'. You can also 'Tag' it.

4. Click 'Save changes'

How to add categories

You can divide your glossary entries into categories

1. Open your glossary and click on the 'Browse by...' dropdown menu and select 'Browse by category'

Browse by... dropdown menu in glossary activity

2. This will open a new page where you need to click 'Edit categories'.

Edit category button

3. This will open a page which lists all the categories (if any have been added). On this page, click the 'Add category' button.

Categories list with add category button at the bottom of list

4. Another new page will open. Type the category 'Name' (e.g., Moodle terms) and then click on the 'Save changes' button.

Adding a new category to a glossary

Importing a glossary into Moodle

You can create a glossary outside Moodle and import it to save time

This is a bit complicated as it has to be an XML file. However, there is a tool available to convert an .xls file into xml for import: MoodleGlossary.xls

Create your glossary in excel using this file: MoodleGlossary.xls. The minimum required is concept and definition: the macro tells you what to do. Note: there seems to be a bug which ignores the last entry, so put a fake entry on the last line.

  1. Make sure macros are enabled
  2. Run the macro, which produces an xml file, which you save.

To import glossary entries via an XML file:

1. Open your glossary and click on the 'Import entries' button. 

Import entries button

2. This will open a new page. Either:

Drag and drop your XML file into the space provided.


Click 'Choose a file' then 'Upload a file'.

Browse for the XML file on your computer. Click 'Upload this file'.

3. Choose a 'Destination of imported entries', either the current glossary or a new one.

4. If you want to 'Import categories' information, click the checkbox.

5. Click the 'Submit' button. You'll then see a report of the entries and categories added to the glossary. If you enabled duplicate entries when you created the glossary, the import process will add all of the new definitions. Otherwise, it will not allow you to import any duplicate entries.

Uploading entries screenshot

Note that Glossaries are Activities not Resources: i.e. it is intended that students are able to add their own definitions to the glossary, not just that the glossary is a static teacher-created resource.

Rolling over  / copying a glossary between courses

In the module with the glossary in:

1. Go in to the glossary and click on the 'Three dots' button and select 'Export' from the dropdown menu.

Export option in the three dots menu

2. A new page will open where you need to click on the 'Export entries to file' button.

Export entries to file button in glossary

3. An .xml file will download.  Save it to a folder and open the folder.

4. Go to the second module where you want the glossary and add a new glossary (see previous section on this page).

5. Click into the new glossary and click on the 'Import entries' button.

6. Drag and drop the .xml file from the folder you have open into the defined box on the Moodle screen (Check the box to import categories if you had them)

7. Click 'Submit' to upload the entries.

Uploading entries screenshot