Sans Forgetica: A Font to Remember

Short Read

We all know what it’s like cramming for exams, hoping that we don’t forget the viscosity of jelly, or the name of that strange optician in The Great Gatsby. Everyone learns, and forgets, in different ways. The ease of taking in information depends on the size, type and colour of the lettering, how interested we are in what the words are saying, or our reading competence.

Almost every type of learning is done at least in some part through reading words – and in the age of desktops, laptops and mobile devices where designers spend a lot of time choosing the best typeface for accessibility and legibility, those words are usually clean, crisp and easy to read. However, it turns out that this causes problems when it comes to remembering. If everything you read or see looks the same and you are unable to differentiate what happened when, or which thing went in what order, this can cause you to forget entirely. Even if a very short amount of time has passed.

To address this problem, Melbourne-based RMIT University set out to create a typeface called Sans Forgetica centred around the principle of ‘desirable difficulty’ – essentially making the words trickier to read, thus encouraging our brains to think more deeply about what we are reading.

By forcing us to look harder and read slower, words written in Sans Forgetica have been proven to increase the amount of information we retain. In preliminary studies conducted by the creators of the font – Janneke Blijlevens and Stephan Banham – on roughly 400 of the university’s students, those who read notes in Sans Forgetica remembered, on average, 7% more than those who read in more common fonts, such as Ariel or Times New Roman.

When it comes to visual branding, we often say that market differentiation is key. How a brand differentiates itself is vital to create a more concrete memory trace and helps consumers make mental shortcuts, or heuristics, to ease decision-making. We all want our brands to be memorable, so should we be making consumers work a little bit harder to make sure we’re branded (pun intended) into their brains?

A typeface like Sans Forgetica could be an effective tool for companies to use in communications where we want to help consumers remember the offer, the product, the story. If nothing else, it proves yet again that brands need to stand out from the competition if they’re going to be remembered.

Fancy trying it out for yourself? Sans Forgetica is available for free download here

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