Sans Forgetica, a new font developed by RMIT researchers and academics from different disciplines, could help people remember more of what they read.
The font, which is available for free, is believed to be the world’s first typeface specifically designed to help people retain more information and remember more of typed study notes.
It was developed in a collaboration between typographic design specialists and psychologists, combining psychological theory and design principles to improve retention of written information.
Stephen Banham, lecturer in typography at the School of Design, said it was great working on a project that combined research from typography and psychology and the experts from our Behavioural Business Lab.
“This cross pollination of thinking has led to the creation of a new font that is fundamentally different from all other font. It is also a clear application of theory into practice, something we strive for at RMIT,” he said.
Chair of the Behavioural Business Lab and behavioural economist from the College of Business, Dr Jo Peryman, said it was a terrific tool for students studying for exams.
“We believe this is the first time that specific principles of design theory have been combined with specific principles of psychology theory in order to create a font,” she said.
The font was developed using a learning principle called ‘desirable difficulty’, where an obstruction is added to the learning process that requires us to put in just enough effort, leading to better memory retention to promote deeper cognitive processing.
Senior Marketing Lecturer (Experimental Methods and Design Thinking) and founding member of the Behavioural Business Lab Dr Janneke Blijlevens said typical fonts were very familiar.
“Readers often glance over them and no memory trace is created,” she said.
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,” Janneke said.
Sans Forgetica has varying degrees of ‘distinctiveness’ built in that subvert many of the design principles normally associated with conventional typography.
These degrees of distinctiveness cause readers to dwell longer on each word, giving the brain more time to engage in deeper cognitive processing, to enhance information retention.
Roughly 400 Australian university students participated in a laboratory and an online experiment conducted by RMIT, where fonts with a range of obstructions were tested to determine which led to the best memory retention. Sans Forgetica broke just enough design principles without becoming too illegible and aided memory retention.
The trio behind the project is now working on a paper for publication in a scientific journal.
RMIT worked with strategy and creative agency Naked Communications to create the Sans Forgetica concept and font.
Sans Forgetica is available free to download at http://www.sansforgetica.rmit/.
Story: Amelia Harris