Listen to Article
From creating crazy mnemonics to constructing elaborate mind maps, all of us have at some point experimented with techniques to help us recall relevant information during tests and exams. Now, a group of researchers at the RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia have devised a new trick to help boost our memories – a gap-ridden, and oddly slanted, typeface that they ironically called Sans Forgetica!
Released for free online download on October 3, 2018, the font is the first typeface specifically designed to help people, students in particular, retain more information. Based on the principles of cognitive science and psychology, Sans Forgetica comprises two main design elements – a backward slant of eight degrees and a series of small openings in the letters. While the combination results in some pretty weird looking text, it does make the reader take a second glance – precisely what it was designed to do. The RMIT researchers say the font creates a desirable point of difficulty, or a sweet spot, that is engaging yet legible.
But before you start converting all your notes to the memory-boosting font, the researchers do warn it should be used sparingly to remain effective. Janneke Blijlevens, of RMIT’s Behavioral Business Lab, who worked on the project, cautions that if the brain gets too much exposure to Sans Forgetica, it will get used to reading it just as easily as if it were Arial or Times New Roman, two of the world’s most ubiquitous fonts. The expert says, “We believe it is best used to emphasize key sections, like a definition in a text, rather than converting entire texts or books.”
Though the team has not published a scientific paper to support their claims, a study involving 400 university students found that 57% remembered more when they used Sans Forgetica, compared to 50% that studied using plain Arial. The researchers now hope to get more feedback from the public. "We really just want people to use it to experiment with it and see how it goes," says team leader Professor Stephen Banham. "We're looking forward to seeing what people do with it."
Eager to test if the font truly works? Read the words in the above image and see how many you are able to recall an hour later. Most importantly, don’t forget to let us, and the RMIT researchers know if it worked by voting below.
Resources: Smithsonianmag.com, www.rmit.edu.au.