Such is the case with Sans Forgetica. Researchers at RMIT University in Melbourne recently custom designed the cleverly named font. After testing it out on 400 students, 57 percent of them properly memorized what was written compared to 50 percent who read the same thing in plain ol’ Arial. “Sans Forgetica works by a learning principle called ‘desirable difficulty.’ It’s when an obstruction is added to the learning process in order to promote deeper cognitive processing, which results in better memory retention,” behavioral economist Jo Peryman told Quartz.
“Sans Forgetica works by a learning principle called ‘desirable difficulty.’ It’s when an obstruction is added to the learning process in order to promote deeper cognitive processing, which results in better memory retention.” —Jo Peryman, behavioral economist
So, what makes Sans Forgetica different from Arial? Instead of being in a basic, super-legible typeface, it contains gaps and a backslant—two things the designers say makes it more difficult to read. This causes people to slow down as they mentally fill in the blanks of what they’re absorbing. And while this is the first font specifically designed to boost memory, the research on the benefits of using hard-to-read fonts goes back to a 2010 study from Princeton University, which showed its effectiveness.
Sure, you probably don’t want to convert page upon page of exam notes to Sans Forgetica to study with, but downloading the free font to memorize little things could do you a lot of good. Never forgetting to mail your rent check or pick up some oat milk at the grocery store would be nice, right?