Best Broken Fonts
Sans Forgetica is a memory-enhancing font designed by Australian researchers. This free font was first developed by the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology’s Behavioural Business Lab to promote better recall of information. It is claimed to increase memory by prompting readers to slow down and focus their attention. The researchers tested Sans Forgetica on 400 university students and found that they remembered 57 percent of the information they read in the typeface.
Sans Forgetica, designed by Stephen Banham, takes advantage of a psychological theory known as “desirable difficulty”. According to this theory, the brain is better able to retain information when it is presented in a format that makes the material hard to decipher. Because the reader must struggle to understand the language, the process is forced to work harder.
The designers of Sans Forgetica broke the rules of conventional typefaces by adding gaps into the text, which causes the reader to slow down and think about the sentence. As a result, the mind is prompted to fill in the blank spaces, thereby creating a memory trace. Unlike conventional fonts, Sans Forgetica is intentionally difficult to read. In fact, it’s so hard that it takes a fraction of a second longer to read.
A team of scientists at the University of Warwick and the University of Waikato in New Zealand tested people’s memory with the Sans Forgetica font and compared it to the same information written in the standard Arial font. Participants were randomly assigned to one of two groups. They were then given a series of educational materials. Those in the Arial group were tested on understanding, whereas those in the Sans Forgetica group were tested on recall.
Results showed that the Sans Forgetica group recalled less than the Arial group. However, the difference was not statistically significant. Researchers believe that this may be because participants were not following study instructions. Alternatively, it may be that the Sans Forgetica font is more difficult to read than the standard Arial font. Although researchers do not know how much of a memory benefit the font can have, the researchers are interested in whether it can provide a greater amount of memory than the standard Arial font.
Some of the early prototypes of Sans Forgetica had asymmetrical and backslant letters, but the researchers later found that these features actually interfered with the process of reading. When the letters were presented with the asymmetrical backslant, it triggered the memory process and caused a decline in recall.
Another design feature of the Sans Forgetica typeface was its 7-degree back slant. Originally, this feature was intended to make information more challenging to decipher. But researchers discovered that the slant slowed down the process of reading, which increased the time it took to decipher the words.
Lastly, the team conducted a number of tests to evaluate whether the Sans Forgetica typeface could help reduce the DRM illusion. To do so, they studied people’s ability to remember the list items they were shown, along with the number of misses they made on these lists. If a participant missed too many items, they were eliminated from the study.