Reading this a little too effortlessly? There's a line of thinking that promotes adding layers of complexity to learning tasks to help with the absorption of information. Known as "desirable difficulty," this learning principle forms the basis of a new gap-ridden font designed to help students remember what they read by filling in the blanks.

Dubbed Sans Forgetica, the new font was developed by an interdisciplinary team of designers and behavioral scientists from RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia. It is couched in this concept of desirable difficulty, and is billed as the world's first typeface specifically designed to help people better recall things they have read.

Around 400 Australian university students took part in experiments testing out a range of new fonts that the team cooked up. Sans Forgetica was found to strike a balance between still being legible and breaking the mould just enough to encourage memory retention through deeper cognitive processing, engaging the brain in ways familiar fonts do not.

"Readers often glance over them and no memory trace is created," says RMIT Behavioural Business Lab Dr Janneke Blijlevens. "However, if a font is too different, the brain can't process it and the information is not retained. Sans Forgetica lies at a sweet spot where just enough obstruction has been added to create that memory retention."

Sans Forgetica is available as an OpenType font file as well as a Chrome extension, which makes any on-screen text desirably difficult to read. You can give it a try here.

Source: RMIT