Law School Academic Support Blog

Editor: Amy Jarmon
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Thursday, October 11, 2018

A New Type(face) of Desirable Difficulty: Sans Forgetica

Those clever Australians have come up with a new tool for learners.  A team at RMIT University in Melbourne has designed a font, dubbed "Sans Forgetica," which is designed to help students remember what they read by using the principles of desirable difficulty.  

Most typefaces are designed to help readers read quickly and easily.  Sans Forgetica does the opposite: it is deliberately designed to slow the reader down.  Not only do the letters slant to the left, but large chunks are carved out of each letter.  The result is a typeface that is difficult but not impossible to read.  The added complexity the font produces slows readers down, takes them out of automatic pilot, and helps them recall important matter.   The new typeface is getting lots of attention, not just in Australia but in the Washington Post and other U.S. news outlets.

Typographer Stephen Banham stresses that Sans Forgetica is designed as a highlight typeface for key elements in study notes, not for extended use.  "If you were to read a novel in Sans Forgetica, it would probably induce a terrible headache," he says.   So using this font for an entire outline would be a bad idea, but students could fruitfully use it sparingly to highlight key material -- and teachers could also experiment with this font to test its effectiveness in a variety of situations.  Sans Forgetica is available for free download from RMIT University and works with Apple, PCs, and Google Chrome.

Hat tip to UNLV's Chelsea Baldwin for suggesting this topic.  (Nancy Luebbert)

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