Student 1: How come I can’t remember a darn thing I’ve read?
2: Maybe it’s because your notebook’s empty from non-attendance in class?
3: Mine’s full of notes, but I just can’t understand it?
2: Well, that notebook’s fine, but it’s in Sanskrit. Is the notebook even yours?
We all know that one wisecrack, better-than-thou classmate back in our university days.
But that’s not the point, because I’m sure all of us have had issues remembering things, alongside wisecrack students or not.
Fret not though, it appears that “a team of researchers at Australia’s Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (yes, that RMIT) has come up with a new type font called Sans Forgetica.”
Hail Sans Forgetica
Sans Forgetica it seems, “helps people remember what they have read” reported Techxplore.
“The idea for the font came about as part of an effort to boost memory retention for students studying material for their coursework.”
The “research team combined the expertise of behavioural scientists with design specialists to develop a font that is reasonably pleasing to the eye while inducing retention improvement. ”
Subjecting 400 students to a font test that they thought might help with memory retention, Sans Forgetica came out on top.
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No Pain No Gain
The process though is not as magical as one would think.
It is, in fact, more familiar and prosaic than you might imagine.
According to the article, the idea “behind the new font was to create a slightly more difficult reading experience, forcing the reader to absorb each word as they stare at it.”
This is in part understood as “desirable difficulty”, a cognitive psychology concept “that improves deep cognitive processing by adding a degree of difficulty to a task, which is needed, apparently, for better memory retention.”
In other words, make people work harder to read and they’ll probably remember it better. After all, the things you’ll treasure are stuff that you really work for.
How Did They Do It?
To that end, the team positioned the “font slant” in “the opposite direction of normal italics in a text, and also removed sections of each letter.”
Lo and behold, the “result is a font that is definitely harder on the eyes, if not the brain”.
That slows down your reading, which in turn potentially creates “desirable difficulty” which will facilitate cognitive processing and memory retention.
Now, there were two kinds of studying back in my university days.
One which required pure memory work and which revision constitutes nothing more than chanting mantra verbatim, without much processing.
The other, tougher but more efficient one required me to partly memorise, but also to dissect and understand the equation and/or issue at hand before regurgitating the information in a relevant manner.
Essentially meaning, no pain no gain.
The team behind the font claims that the font has more than just erudite purposes, and suggests that it could even be used for remembering appointment and dates.
Here’s a video on Sans Forgetica
You can download it here for your very own usage.
That said, as the font “slows reading”, “it may not suit students engaging in all-night cram sessions the night before finals.”
Boss, I tried
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