Researchers at RMIT University in Melbourne have created a font which they say assists memory recall.  It's rather whimsically named "Sans Forgetica".

"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," said Jo Peryman, chair of the RMIT Behavioral Business Lab.


The researchers based Sans Forgetica on a font called Albion.  But they punched gaps into each character to better engage the brain, improving recall.  Its distinctive back-slant also serves a purpose.  The idea is that, by removing segments of each character, the reader will have to work just a little bit harder to process the printed information.  That supposedly will lead to better memory retention while promoting deeper cognitive processing.

The trick was not to remove so much as to make it unrecognizable.

"If a font is too different, the brain can't process it and the information is not retained," said founding member of the RMIT Behavioural Business Lab Dr Janneke Blijlevens, "Sans Forgetica lies at a sweet spot where just enough obstruction has been added to create that memory retention."

Tests on RMIT students found that information presented in Sans Forgetica was retained slightly more than in other fonts.  One experiment asked students to recall word pairs presented in three different fonts - they recalled 69 percent of the word pairs presented in Sans Forgetica compared to 61 percent for the other fonts.  And in a mock multiple-choice exam, students recalled 57 percent of the text presented in Sans Forgetica, compared to 50 percent when it was written in a plain ol' Arial.