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Create and use a glossary

The glossary activity enables participants to create and maintain a list of definitions, like a dictionary, or to collect and organise resources or information.

A teacher can allow files to be attached to glossary entries. Attached images are displayed in the entry. Entries can be searched or browsed alphabetically or by category, date or author. Entries can be approved by default or require approval by a teacher before they are displayed.

If the glossary auto-linking filter is enabled, entries will be automatically linked where the concept words and/or phrases appear within the course.

A teacher can allow comments on entries. Entries can also be rated by teachers or students (peer evaluation). Ratings can be aggregated to form a final grade which is recorded in the Moodle Gradebook.

Glossaries have many uses, such as

  • A collaborative bank of key terms
  • A ‘getting to know you’ space where new students add their name and personal details
  • A ‘handy tips’ resource of best practice in a practical subject
  • A sharing area of useful videos, images or sound files
  • A revision resource of facts to remember

Add a glossary activity

  1. Click on the gear icon (cog icon) in the top right corner to open the action menu.
  2. In the action menu, click on 'Turn editing on'.
  3. Click on 'Add an activity or resource' in the section or topic where you want it to appear.
  4. Choose 'Glossary' from the list of activities and resources.
  5. On the new Glossary page, enter Name and Description for the glossary, and tick the check box 'Display description' if applicable.
  6. Under Entries, select whether you want:
    1. Approved by default, you may set the glossary so that there will be no requirement for the instructor to approve them before users can view.
    2. Always allow editing, you may set whether entries are always editable or to limit editing to a nominated editing time.
    3. Duplicate entries allowed, you may set whether multiple entries can have the same concept name.
    4. Allow comments on entries you may set whether to allow by participants with the right permissions to create comments.
    5. Automatically link glossary entries wherever the concept word/phrase is used throughout the course.
  7. Under Appearance, select whether you want:
    • Display format - you may select the most appropriate display format, there are seven formats to choose from:
      • 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.
    • Approval display format, select the most appropriate display format for entries to be presented for approval.
    • Entries shown per page, change the number of entries shown per page if you want to.
    • Show alphabet links, if enabled participants can browse the glossary by letters of the alphabet.
    • Show 'ALL' link, if enabled participants can browse all glossary entries at once.
    • Show 'Special' link, if enabled participants can browse using special characters, such as @ or #
    • Allow print view, if enabled participants are provided with a link to a printer-friendly version of the glossary, this is always provided for teachers.
  8. Under Ratings, if you want any roles with permissions to rate glossary entries, select whether you want:
    • Aggregate type, the aggregate type defines how ratings are combined to form the final grade in the gradebook. If 'No ratings' is selected (default) then the activity will not appear in the gradebook. There are five options:
    • Average of ratings (default) - This is the mean of all the ratings given.
    • Count of ratings - This counts the number of rated entries which becomes the final grade. Note that the total can not exceed the maximum grade allowed.
    • Maximum rating - The highest rating is returned as the final grade.
    • Minimum rating - The smallest rating is returned as the final grade.
    • Sum of ratings - All the ratings are added together. Note that the total is not allowed to exceed the maximum grade.
    • Scale, if a rating is selected then select the type of grading used for this activity from the dropdown. If 'scale' is chosen, you can then choose the scale from the "scale" dropdown. If using "point" grading, you can then enter the maximum grade available for this activity.
    • Check box if you wish to Restrict ratings to items (entries) contributed, by selecting an appropriate date range.
  9. The Common Module Settings, Restrict Access and Activity Completion sections, if you have
    chosen to enable them, can be completed in the usual way then click on 'Save and display'. To access the glossary activity, staff and students just click on the link from their Moodle course page.

Create a glossary entry

  1. Click 'Add a new entry' in a new or existing glossary.
  2. On the new entry page insert:
    • Concept, the glossary term.
    • Definition, insert glossary term and an explanation or definition of the term. You may also include an example, if possible.
    • Keywords, enter any word(s) with which you want this concept and definition to be searchable.
    • Attachments, add any files if necessary.
  3. If you want to use auto-linking:
    • This entry should be automatically linked, check box if you wish to enable an entry to be automatically linked wherever the concept words or phrases appear throughout the rest of the course.
    • This entry is case sensitive, check box if matching exact upper and lower case is necessary when auto linking to an entry.
    • Match whole words only, check box if you want only whole words to be linked, for example, a glossary entry named "construct" will not create a link inside "constructivism".
  4. Click 'Save and display' and the new entry will display on the glossary's main page, where you can export, delete or edit it.

For more guidance on the glossary, see:

The information on this page relates to Moodle v3.6 and was last updated February 2020.


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