Fri, Oct 05, 2018 - Page 6 News List

New font could boost memory

The Guardian

Melbourne-based RMIT University’s Behavioural Business Lab and School of Design teamed up to create “Sans Forgetica,” which they say uses psychological and design theories to aid memory retention.

About 400 university students have been involved in a study that found a small increase in the amount participants remembered — 57 percent of text written in Sans Forgetica compared with 50 percent in Arial.

Typography lecturer Stephen Banham said the font had an unusual seven-degree back slant to the left and gaps in each letter.

“The mind will naturally seek to complete those shapes and so by doing that it slows the reading and triggers memory,” Banham said.

Senior marketing lecturer Janneke Blijlevens said the concept of “desirable difficulty” underpinned the font’s design.

“When we want to learn something and remember it, it’s good to have a little bit of an obstruction added to that learning process, because if something is too easy it doesn’t create a memory trace,” she said.

“If it’s too difficult, it doesn’t leave a memory trace either, so you need to look for that sweet spot,” she added.

The font was designed with students cramming for exams in mind, but could also be used to help people studying foreign languages and elderly people grappling with memory loss.

Blijlevens is keen to test the font in other contexts, such as proofreading.

Banham, who has created about 20 fonts, said the typeface would be best used for short texts.

“God no, you wouldn’t want novels printed in it, it would probably induce a headache,” he said.

The font took about six months to develop and there were three different versions tested.

Sans Forgetica is available free to download as a font and Chrome browser extension at sansforgetica.rmit.

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