Researchers from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) have developed a new font that helps improve your memory. The interdisciplinary project saw graphics students working with psychologists and researchers develop the font dubbed Sans Forgetica.
It is thought to be the first typeface in the world developed as a tool to stimulate memory. The font was developed to help people retain more of what they read - best of all the University has made it available for free.
Font designed with experts from varied fields
The Stephen Banham, RMIT lecturer in typography and industry leader, said the project was a great example of cross-disciplinary success. “This cross-pollination of thinking has led to the creation of a new font that is fundamentally different from all other fonts. It is also a clear application of theory into practice, something we strive for at RMIT,” he said.
The font will be a new tool for students studying for exams RMIT Behavioural Business Lab and behavioral economist, Dr Joe Perryman, observed. “We believe this is the first time that specific principles of design theory have been combined with specific principles of psychology theory in order to create a font.”
Obstacles help us learn
The font makes use of a learning principle called 'desirable difficulty', this means a certain of level of difficulty is added to a learning task so that just enough effort is needed to complete it - thus making it more memorable. This type of learning is thought to promote deeper cognitive processing.
The font developers wanted to create a font that was slightly unusual. “Readers often glance over them and no memory trace is created,” Senior Marketing Lecturer (Experimental Methods and Design Thinking) and founding member of the RMIT Behavioural Business Lab Dr. Janneke Blijlevens said.
However, making it too crazy or different from the norm would result in making it to hard for the brain to read and remember the text. “Sans Forgetica lies at a sweet spot where just enough obstruction has been added to create that memory retention", Blijlevens notes.
Sloping font requires concentration
Sans Forgetica's distinguishing features include a slope to the left and small gaps in between the letter formation. About 400 students participated in online experiments and labs that tested which font led to the best memory retention.
People reading texts in Sans Forgetica were able to recall 57% of the content compared to reading in common fonts like Arial that gave just 50% retention. The researchers involved will now develop the work ready for publication in a scientific journal.