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This applies to Moodle 3.4 from September 2018


This guide will show you how to add to Moodle a glossary of terms, especially useful to students tackling material containing any amount of new vocabulary.

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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 encyclopedia on any topic relevant to your module
  • collect tips and tricks, recipes, book reviews

How to create a glossary


  • In your Moodle module click on the Turn editing on button  Image AddedImage Added
  • Click on the + Add an activity or resource hyperlink in the appropriate section

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  • Select Glossary  and Add
  • Give it a Name and, if you wish, a Description 
  • Under the heading Appearance, choose the number of Entries shown per page (default 10)
  • Check other settings (normally defaults are fine except that we recommend NOT to Automatically link glossary entries) See below for format settings.
  • Click on the Save and return to module or Save and display buttons.

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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.

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 There are 7 display formats: 

  • Continuous without author - Entries are displayed one after another without any separation apart from the editing icons  RECOMMENDED
  • Encyclopedia - 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  RECOMMENDED
  • 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

Once the Glossary has been created you can start adding entries.

To add an entry

  • Click into the glossary
  • Click on the Add a new entry button

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  • Type Concept and Definition

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  • Add a file or keywords if you wish
  • Click Save changes

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How to add categories

You can divide your glossary entries into categories

  • Enter the glossary instance
  • Click Browse by category
  • Click Edit categories

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  • Click Add category

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  • Type the category Name (e.g., Moodle terms)

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. In your module, turn editing on, and create a glossary as described above   OR Edit a glossary
  2. NOT in editing mode, go to the glossary and within the glossary, drop down the Cogwheel/Actions menu: follow the "Import entries" link.
  3. Click Choose a file > Upload a file
  4. Browse for the XML file on your computer. Click Upload this file
  5. Select the destination for the new entries, either the current glossary or a new one.
  6. If you want to import category information, click the checkbox.
  7. 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.

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 course with the glossary in:

  • Click into the glossary
  • Drop down the Settings / Actions menu via the cogwheel

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  • Click  Export entries
  • Click Export entries to file

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  • An .xml file will download.  Save it to a folder and open the folder.
  • Go to the second course where you want the glossary
  • Use + Add an activity or resource to create a new glossary (or Copy it into the course using Import as described here 
  • Click into the new glossary
  • Drop down the Settings / Actions menu via the cogwheel
  • Select Import entries
  • 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)
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