New font Sans Forgetica designed to boost your memory

Helvetica is so 2011. It's all about Sans Forgetica now.

Jackson Ryan Former Science Editor
Jackson Ryan was CNET's science editor, and a multiple award-winning one at that. Earlier, he'd been a scientist, but he realized he wasn't very happy sitting at a lab bench all day. Science writing, he realized, was the best job in the world -- it let him tell stories about space, the planet, climate change and the people working at the frontiers of human knowledge. He also owns a lot of ugly Christmas sweaters.
Jackson Ryan
2 min read

During my early years at university, I was a terrible student. Uninterested, tired. Forgetful.

It would have been handy to have a font specifically designed to help me alleviate the most pressing of those issues -- the fact that, going into a test, I'd have to write my lab notes over and over again, just to help me remember them.

Enter Sans Forgetica.

Researchers at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) in Australia have developed an entirely new font designed "using the principles of cognitive psychology" to help you better remember your study notes. The font is a sans serif style typeface, with two unusual features: It slants slightly left, which is a rarely used design principle in typography, and it's full of holes.

Those holes have a purpose though. They make Sans Forgetica harder to read, tricking your brain into using "deeper cognitive processing" and promoting better memory retention. The psychological learning principle is known as "desirable difficulty" and that obstruction -- the holes -- mean you dwell on each word just a little bit longer. 

An important message worth remembering.

GIF by Jackson Ryan/RMIT

The font was created in partnership with creative agency Naked and the RMIT School of Design and Behavioural Business Lab.

To find the best font for boosting memory, 400 students were exposed to several different fonts. Sans Forgetica showed the biggest leap in remembering.

"Sans Forgetica performed the best at aiding memory because it broke just enough of the design principles without becoming too illegible," says Dr. Jo Peryman, chair of the RMIT Behavioural Business Lab.

Although it was pioneered by RMIT to be used as a study tool, Dr. Janneke Blijlevens, founding member of the Behavioural Business Lab, believes the font's applications extend beyond classrooms and can help people memorize things important to them in their own lives.

Shopping lists, birthdays, important dates? Write it down in Sans Forgetica and you're tricking your brain into remembering it.

How well does it work? Come back to me in a few months' time.

You can download Sans Forgetica for free use on PC and Mac, or as a Chrome browser extension, here.

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