Science

Sans Forgetica: The font scientists created to help you recall what you read

Sans Forgetica: The font scien...
Sans Forgetica is billed as the world's first typeface specifically designed to help people better recall things they have read
Sans Forgetica is billed as the world's first typeface specifically designed to help people better recall things they have read
View 1 Image
Sans Forgetica is billed as the world's first typeface specifically designed to help people better recall things they have read
1/1
Sans Forgetica is billed as the world's first typeface specifically designed to help people better recall things they have read

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

5 comments
Brian M
Nothing new here - our physics department was using the same techniques years ago. The student handouts had a similar font. Not sure if it was successful as they dropped the idea when the department got a new photocopier.....
Username
I suspect it doesn't take long to get familiar with the font after which there is no more difficulty involved
christopher
You should have *used* it...
Anne Ominous
Nah. Here's the thing:
The only reason the font is more memorable is because it makes you do mental WORK to decipher it. You have to pay attention, to read it at all.
That's like saying you'll remember digging a ditch better if you do it by hand, rather than using a backhoe.
Probably true, but who cares? The relative benefit is not as great as the relative cost.
dutch
I just typed a few paragraphs to see how I liked the font. I found that my normal font size of 12 was too small to read comfortably and needed to shift to 16. It felt like the smaller font size was too run together so that I was not only deciphering individual letters but also words. That disappeared with the larger font size.