For most, memorizing what you read is no easy task. Readers typically rely on shorthand notes, highlighters and other tools for better recall.
These strategies may help you recall it later, but what if there was a better way to help you store the information in the first place? A psychologist at Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) may have found a solution to the age-old memorization problem: a new memory-boosting font called Sans Forgetica.
WHAT IS SANS FORGETICA?
Most fonts are designed to make text easier to read. They’re made to flow well with even kerning so the words don’t get squished together and are easily understandable by anyone with a basic concept of the language. Sans Forgetica does just the opposite. It is designed to make the text more difficult to read.
Sans Forgetica looks like a typical block letter font with one distinct difference: about half of each letter is missing, and it’s something that a lot of people — including writers, programmers and even scientists — are excited about. This doesn’t make the font unreadable, but it does reach a level of what is called “desirable difficulty” — that is, it’s just hard enough to read that it causes the reader to better retain the information contained within.
This font relies on the Gestalt Law of Closure, which is what happens when a human being sees something that is incomplete and they know something is missing. Your brain automatically tries to fill in the missing pieces, which — according to the RMIT team — makes it easier for you to later remember what you read.
Digital tools have become increasingly common. In 2014, more than 63 percent of colleges used digital textbooks instead of paper ones, and that number is probably even higher today. While this might be more convenient for students — and kinder to their backs and shoulders — some studies have shown it might compromise their ability to learn and retain information.
Digital texts don’t require the reader to spend time browsing everything to learn the required information. With a couple of keystrokes, they can instead search for the exact piece of information needed to answer the question, removing the need for in-depth reading. Reading things in print also reduces the likelihood that the reader will multitask.
Studies have found that reading digital formats can be faster than reading print, but it also has a negative effect on comprehension:
“Speed gives [students] the illusion of faster processing, and that must mean they’re getting it better. Just like in school, kids who finish first are usually perceived to be somehow better or smarter,” said a recent article published by the National Education Association. “Speed tends to be aligned with intelligence, as it is with so many things. But it can actually result in a deficit of learning compared to print.”