There is an important correlation between our learning process and the materials we use. Did you ever wonder why we were so obsessed with our pencils in high school? Or why we were using different colours and stickers? All these components were – and still are – important because of our way of learning.
Researchers at Melbourne’s RMIT University Behavioural Business Lab have combined design and psychology principles to create a typeface that helps students remember what they have read. This type’s name is “Sans Forgetica”.
“Typical fonts are very familiar so we glance over them and no memory trace is created,” said Janneke Blijlevens, a founding member of the lab. “On the other hand if a font is too different, our brains can’t process it and no memory trace is created either. Sans Forgetica lies at that sweet spot, where just enough perceptual rules have been broken to create that memory trace,” she continued.
Sans Forgetica’s name is a pun on the font names Comic Sans and Helvetica. The font slants seven degrees to the left and has gaps in the structure of each letter. Researchers say that the font aids memory by making harder for us to read any text written in this font. Putting an obstacle to comprehension in the reader’s way forces the brain to work harder to decipher the letters. This is the basis of the desirable difficulty principle.
The results found that Sans Forgetica was the most effective font in improving the amount of the text the participant was able to remember, with an increase of seven per cent.
The font was created as a collaboration between the behavioural business lab and typographic design specialists from the university’s design school, and draws on principles from both disciplines.
“This is the first time ever that specific principles from psychological theory have been combined with specific principles from design theory in order to create a font,” said Peryman.
The font was designed with 16 to 17-year-olds who have heavy exam loads in mind, but the researchers believe that it could also help people learning languages or elderly people who struggle with memory loss.