All I Wanted was to Create a Glossary, yet I Found Myself Embarking on a Journey!

Not quite what you expect to see… Naomi’s Photos

Additional Title: When I’m creating content on the computer and my students are using a cell phone…

I have no idea how often I’ll be meeting my students in person at school at the beginning of this year or teaching them online. I’m not sure anyone knows at the moment. My best bet for creating new materials seems to be creating ones that can be printed out and used in class or used online. Having something ready comforts me a bit amidst all this uncertainty.

Therefore I’ve decided that it would be very helpful for me to begin the school year with some texts that are divided into chunks and include glossaries. I have found that struggling learners also appreciate having the text in a “box” and, in cases of multiple-choice questions, having the question above the distractors underlined.

Part One – Creating the Glossary

Just like any student, I DID remember that I had once learned how to create a glossary, but many years have passed since then and I had no idea how to do it.

It turns out that creating a glossary in WORD is very easy. Here is a close-up of part of a text and the glossary: (Note: instructions for creating a glossary can be found at the end of this post along with downloadable files of this particular text).

Looks really respectable right? Not a messy jumble of words in a box under the text!

Part Two – The OOOH Discovery

I was totally taken by surprise when I accidentally discovered that once the glossary was created, hovering with your mouse over the word brings up the glossed translation without you having to shift your gaze to the bottom of the page! Having the translation appear above the word as you read is far less disruptive to the flow of reading!

It looks like this (note the little text box above the word):


Isn’t that convenient?

I was very excited! I was sure that once my students learned how to take advantage of this they would appreciate this feature. I do not recall ever hearing about this in any Ed-Tech talks I have attended.

Clouds Set In… Naomi’s Photos
Part Three – The First OH NO! Discovery

As I always do with any worksheet that I create and share with students and other teachers, I saved the document as a PDF. It’s a common practice used to avoid having your students mess up the text as they are working on it.


That cool feature of the glossed items hovering above the text that we’ve been discussing? It disappeared completely. 

The feature does not work when saved as a PDF document.

Part Four – The Second OH NO! Discovery

I asked myself – how often have I seen students ruin or erase part of the digital text they were working on? The only relevant experience I’ve had is when students used to work on the classroom computer. Almost all my worksheets on these computers have remained in WORD and I’ve had very few cases of students accidentally erasing the exercise or distorting the text.  Since the originals are saved it has never been “an issue”.


I decided to try using a WORD document with the students, without saving it as a PDF file.

Fortunately, I had the opportunity to try it out with two students who came to school for the second round of national exams that we had recently.

When they opened the document on their cell phones, not only did the “cool feature” not work, the entire glossary disappeared! No little numbers and words on the bottom of the page at all.


The glossary looked great on the students’ cell-phones when I sent it to them as a PDF file.

Looking at the situation…
Naomi’s Photos
Part Five – Current Plans

My original goal was to have a text with a respectable glossary that would be clear on whatever device the students are using. That goal has been achieved.

I will save the WORD version of the worksheets on the classroom computers. The students do not have WORD installed on their phones but the classroom computers most certainly do. At least those who work in class will benefit from the extra features.

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How to add a glossary to a worksheet
  1. Highlight the word you want to gloss and copy it.
  2. Go to the top of the page, above your toolbar, and look for the option “References”. Click on it.
  3. Click on “insert footnote”. A little number below a line will appear at the bottom of the page. It begins very low on the page but as you add more words it all moves up.
  4. Paste the word you copied. Then type in the gloss beside it.
  5. Be pleased!
Module C Summer “Bagrut” Exam, 2019, divided into chunks with a glossary

Module C Bagrut Kindness Part Four PDF

Module C Bagrut Kindness Part One PDF

Module C Bagrut Kindness Part Three PDF

Module C Bagrut Kindness Part Two PDF






4 thoughts on “All I Wanted was to Create a Glossary, yet I Found Myself Embarking on a Journey!”

  1. A wonderful and useful idea.

    You deserve a triple thanks for:

    Sharing it.
    Explaining in detail how to add a glossary.
    Adding suitable photos.

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