Make a Glossary for Your Website Easily with ChatGPT

Do you run a tutorial-focused website or blog? If so, a glossary is a useful feature to have for your visitors. Learn how ChatGPT can help you to create a glossary of terms quickly and easily.

A glossary is an alphabetized list of terms and definitions. If you run a tutorial-focused blog (like I do) in a technical niche that’s prone to overuse of jargon, it’s a great idea to create a glossary for your visitors. The process of writing glossaries can be very tedious if done manually. As luck would have it, though, we can now automate this process with the help of generative artificial intelligence (AI). In this post, I’ll explain how you can leverage ChatGPT to create a glossary for your website or blog quickly and easily.

Why Create a Glossary?

Before we get into the “how,” let’s address the “why.” The main reason for adding a glossary to your website is the most obvious one: it helps to clarify your writing for your visitors and thus increases their knowledge. What about some of the less obvious reasons, though?

Photo by Rob Hobson on Unsplash

Glossaries Increase Visitor Retention

If the terms you use are clear and well-defined via an accessible internal glossary, visitors are less likely to look up those terms on another website. This, in turn, increases read time and visitor retention. Think about it: if a visitor has to turn to one of your competitors to fully understand your articles, how likely are they to return to your website? Not very.

Glossaries Enhance Your Authority

Authority is a metric used by Google and other search engines to establish page rankings. When you deliver user-friendly, information-oriented services like internal glossaries, you indicate to search engines that your website is a valuable, one-stop resource for visitors. This can enhance your authority. Your website may accordingly rank higher in search engines for visitors seeking out answers to questions related to your area of expertise.

Glossaries Save Time for Everyone

Think about how much time you’d end up wasting if you had to define the same terms over and over again during the course of a site’s lifespan. Think, too, about how much time your repeat visitors would end up wasting if they had to read those same terms over and over again. With a glossary, you can simply link to a term without having to define it repeatedly. That way, everyone saves time, and visitors who are unfamiliar with the term still get the information they need.

Why Use AI to Build Your Glossary?

As beneficial as glossaries are, they can be mentally painful to write. Defining words is not easy by any stretch of the imagination. The more technical the subject matter, the more challenging it is to break terms down clearly and concisely. Fortunately, generative AI makes the process of defining words a whole lot simpler and faster.

As a caveat, I generally do not approve of using AI to produce written content. AI-generated content is dry, wooden, and unengaging to read. It’s also, quite frankly, a little lazy. Some bloggers use AI to write all of their content — something I don’t condone or endorse.

Dry, wooden, and unengaging language is perfect for glossaries, though. After all, no one reads a glossary to be inspired or entertained. We read glossaries to better understand concepts and terms. You should absolutely use every tool at your disposal to make the process of writing glossaries less tedious, including AI.

How to Create a Glossary with ChatGPT

If you’ve clicked on any of the internal links on this page so far, you’ve likely come across my own glossary. Building it up from scratch without AI probably would have been a multi-day endeavour. I didn’t have time for that, and I bet you don’t either.

Fortunately, it only took me about 30 minutes to make the glossary with ChatGPT-3.5, not counting the time I spent linking to glossary terms in my older posts. Want to know how I did it, and how you can do it, too? Read on!

1. Create an Alphabetized List of Glossary Terms

First and foremost, you need to compile an alphabetized list of relevant terms for your glossary. You can compile these terms manually by skimming through your content and taking note of concepts and keywords, or you can compile them automatically with ChatGPT.

If you want ChatGPT to suggest glossary terms from existing text, enter the following prompt:

give me an a-z list of terms from this article that would be useful to add to a glossary

Then paste your article’s text beneath the prompt and hit enter. Easy! Not all of the terms suggested will be appropriate for a glossary, but in my experience, most of them are.

As an example, here’s a partial list of terms ChatGPT suggested to me based on the very first article I published on this website:

Do you run a tutorial-focused website or blog? ChatGPT can help you to create a glossary of terms for your users.
Ah, there’s nothing like using ChatGPT to define ChatGPT!

You’ll note in the image above that ChatGPT provides a brief definition along with each term. If you wanted to, you could use these definitions in your glossary. I personally find them a little too vague, however. If you also find them lacking, you can ask ChatGPT to get rid of them entirely by entering the following prompt instead:

give me an a-z list of terms from this article that would be useful to add to a glossary without actually defining the terms

This generates the same list of terms, just without the definitions. Simply copy and paste some or all of these terms into the new page that will become your glossary.

2. Give ChatGPT Appropriate Prompts for Glossary Term Descriptions

Once you’ve compiled your list of terms, prompt ChatGPT to define them in as little or as much detail as you’d like (assuming you’re not sticking with the definitions it generated in the first step). Here are some good glossary-oriented prompts to try:

define <glossary term> in one sentence

define <glossary term> in two sentences in relation to <subject matter>

write a 200 character definition of <glossary term>

write a 200 character definition of <glossary term> in relation to <subject matter>

Play with these prompts as needed. Some terms only need a single sentence definition, while others benefit from two to three sentences.

The “in relation to” prompt is especially helpful when you’re defining terms that have multiple meanings. Take “velocity,” for instance. Without context, ChatGPT will tell you that velocity is “the rate at which an object changes its position with respect to time.”

After you provide it with appropriate context, ChatGPT will tell you this instead:

Do you run a tutorial-focused website or blog? ChatGPT can help you to create a glossary of terms for your users.
That’s much better.

Best of all, if you give ChatGPT the same prompt several times over during a chat session, it will eventually “understand” what you’re looking for — to the point where you don’t even have to give it the full prompt. Just give it the term you want it to define, and it’ll spit out a definition that adheres to the rules you specified in your previous prompts.

3. Start a New Chat with Custom Glossary Instructions Enabled (Optional)

Speaking of rules, you can even give ChatGPT a generalized list of instructions to follow from the outset of a new chat. This can be useful if you don’t plan on changing your prompts all that much during a single chat session.

Setting up Custom Instructions in ChatGPT-3.5.

When you start a new chat with these instructions enabled, you simply need to enter in each term one at a time to generate definitions that obey your custom rule set. Interestingly enough, if you try to enter multiple terms at once, the definitions created are nowhere near as detailed as they should be, and resemble the brief definitions generated when you ask ChatGPT to give you a list of terms based on the text of an existing article. Bug, perhaps? Not sure.

One way or another, whether you’ve used individual prompts or custom instructions, simply paste the generated definitions into your glossary page next to their corresponding terms before moving on to the next step.

4. Modify AI-Generated Glossary Definitions as Needed

ChatGPT has gotten pretty good over the last several updates, but it’s obviously not perfect. Sometimes the definitions it generates are phrased awkwardly, in a stereotypical “AI” kind of way. Also, the definitions are sometimes just flat out wrong. It’s ultimately up to you to proof-read what ChatGPT generates for you and make amendments as needed.

5. Create Anchors for Each Glossary Term

Anchors allow website visitors to jump to a specific area on a page or blog post via what is referred to as an “anchor link” or “jump link.” They’re very useful for glossaries, as they allow you to send users directly to a particular definition on the page without making them scroll through your entire list of terms. When you click on this link, for instance, you’re taken directly to my glossary entry for anchor links. That’s so meta, isn’t it? 😏

If you use WordPress, adding anchors to your glossary terms is easy. Simply click on a term in your edit screen, select the “Advanced” heading under the block tab, and write in the name of your anchor in the field under “HTML Anchor” (see below).

Click on screenshot to expand.

You can also create anchors easily using the id attribute. For example, if I wanted to assign the name “anchor-links” to the appropriate glossary entry using HTML, I’d write the following:

HTML
<p id="anchor-links"><strong>Anchor Links</strong></p>

If I then wanted to insert a hyperlink to that anchor on the same page using the href attribute, I would simply add a hash tag in front of the anchor name, like so:

HTML
<a href="#anchor-links">Clicking here will take you to Anchor Links</a>

Now say, for instance, we’re on a different page, and we want to link to that anchor (or any other anchor we’ve set). That’s the final step of the glossary creation process.

6. Link Back to Your Glossary Terms

If they wanted to, visitors could just open your glossary in a separate window and consult it as needed while reading an article. That’s not very user-friendly, though. The best way to present glossary terms to your visitors is to link to them directly using the anchors you created in the above step.

To create anchor links for your glossary, simply add hash tags and anchor IDs to the end of your glossary’s permanent URL.

As an example, let’s refer back to an earlier anchor link I used in this post to direct readers to my glossary entry on website authority. The relevant section of HTML reads as follows:

HTML
<p><a href="https://stephvanlinden.com/glossary/#authority" target="_blank">Authority</a> is a metric used by Google and other search engines to establish page rankings.</p>

Clicking the Authority link opens up a new tab that links directly to my glossary entry on that particular term. No scrolling required — just one simple button press.

I recommend adding anchor links to the first instance of a term only. Linking to the same term multiple times in one article adds too much link clutter, which isn’t ideal for user experience.

If you have a lot of articles on your website, adding anchor links to relevant glossary entries will likely consume a fair bit of time. It’ll be time well spent for both you and your readers, though. If it helps, think about how much time you saved by using generative AI to handle the most tedious part of the process!

As a side note, I realize that it’s likely possible to add anchor links to old posts automatically via JavaScript. If I figure out how to do that, I’ll report back with my findings. 🙂 Until then, what I’ve outlined above will work just fine.

Conclusion

Generative AI usually leaves a lot to be desired as far as written web content goes. It is, however, very well-suited to building informative, user-friendly glossaries quickly and easily. If you found this guide helpful, please consider bookmarking my homepage or subscribing to the RSS feed to stay in the loop.


Questions?

Do you have a question about the subject matter of this blog post that I didn’t answer above? Feel free to leave a public comment on my YouTube channel by clicking on the button below, and I’ll get back to you there as soon as I can.

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