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 RMIT Behavioural Business Lab Dr Janneke Blijlevens said typical fonts were very familiar.
“Readers often glance over them and no memory trace is created,” Blijlevens 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.”
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.