Each time you read a given text, your brain processes visual stimuli to create meaning and understand the content. Chances are, you don’t pay much attention to how information is presented in the material – especially the choice of font – because your primary focus is reading comprehension rather than reading comprehension. aesthetic.
Although typography is overlooked by most of us (except design enthusiasts), it is crucial in making texts readable, readable, and appealing to the public. Beyond the visual aspect, the research shows that fonts play an important role in the cognitive processes that occur as we read. The impact of a font on the way you learn and retain information can be hard to consciously notice, but your brain is certainly listening.
According to some studies, hard-to-read fonts such as Bodoni, Comic Sans, Haettenschweiler or Monotype Corsiva are better at retaining information than fonts like Arial or Times New Roman. According to a 2010 study Posted in Proceedings of the annual meeting of the Cognitive Science Society.
In addition, a 2013 study in the Education Research Journal found that this benefit also applies to students with dyslexia. It may seem counterintuitive, but in reality, the increased demand for mental processing can promote better attention to the task at hand and improve the reader’s ability to retain information.
“Difficulty can function as a red flag, making the reader feel that the task is difficult and will require mental effort. It gets the reader to really focus on the material – instead of going through it – and this additional in-depth processing helps us learn the material better, ”says Daniel Oppenheimer, professor of psychology at Carnegie Mellon University and one of the authors of the 2010 study. In addition, slowing down the reading speed to deal with disfluence may also to augment the probability of spotting errors in a text.
Hard-to-read fonts, which make it more difficult to interact with a material but do not actually distract the reader, therefore generate “desirable difficulty” – the resulting cognitive loads can to improve performance because they require more mental effort.
Because font disfluence can benefit information retention, a team of designers and behavior specialists from RMIT University created Without Forgetics, a hard-to-read font that’s been specially designed to invoke more in-depth treatment. It has an atypical back design and spaced letters that trick the brain into completing the shape of the letter. The concept of desirable difficulty was Sans Forgetica’s premise: its letter shape is just unconventional enough to be noticeable and trigger memory recall, but not to the point of being considered incomprehensible, says Stephen Banham, professor of typography at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia who helped create the police.
Sans Forgetica was released in 2018 to help students remember short answers, sentences, or prompts. “We read words recognizing their outline rather than letter by letter, so this should be respected in longer texts. Our brain just compares this shape with our memory of what that word should look like, ”Banham explains. Applying the desirable difficulty in fonts may be ideal for small pieces of information such as keywords, phrases, or single sentences – which makes it suitable for advertising or headlines – but not for them. longer texts, he notes.
If a font is difficult to read because a person doesn’t know it, then sufficient practice would make it easier to read and it would no longer have such an effect, says Oppenheimer. However, in recent years, some researchers have highlighted inconsistencies when it comes to disfluencing policies and learning impacts. Several studies that have attempted to replicate the benefits of hard-to-read fonts have found that they can have no (or even bad) effect on learning. Without Forgetica also received criticism for a lack of empirical evidence behind this.
Overall, these mixed results warrant further research into the relationship between font disfluence and memory. And by examining how other typographical characteristics contribute to information retention, we can better understand the broader effects of various fonts.
The impacts of the characteristics of the policies
Font characteristics such as style, size, and color also play a role in information retention or recall, as font design is vital to our familiarity – or unfamiliarity with – with a given word, Banham explains. Experiments have demonstrated a U-shaped relationship between font size and memory: large font elements can to predict higher recall regardless of the font style, but very small font sizes can also introduce desirable difficulty.
However, texts with hard-to-read font sizes (or difficult color contrast) may be more of a readability issue than readability. While both are involved in the visual clarity of a given text, readability relates to the ease of understanding or reading words and phrases, while readability refers to the ability to distinguish characters or glyphs.
The specific method of formatting information in a document also has an impact. Using font styles like bold or italics to indicate the importance of a given text can improve retention because people are better able to remember information they think is important, says Oppenheimer. The researchers found that the bold text has a higher recall as text in italics or normal style, regardless of the font size. However, if an entire document is bold, emphasis is lost and readers can no longer locate essential passages.
Applying Font Finder
Knowing the impact of fonts on our cognitive processes has real-world applications, experts say. People read about thousands of messages a day, Banham points out, which can include safety information that is useful to keep in mind.
“Retention of information is also important in most circumstances,” he explains. “The applications of memory enhancing typographic design based on psychological principles are massive, including specific use in childhood learning as well as dementia research.”
For example, bothersome sounds like chatter or environmental noise from airplanes and road traffic are damaging critical parameters studied in students and office workers, such as text memory, reading comprehension and attentional function. This discovery prompted researchers to examine the effect of hard-to-read fonts – they learned that increased engagement and task demand due to disfluence can significantly reduce background noise processing.
In addition to helping students, other applications of policy research may be to help people remember medical information, safety protocols, or even basic facts such as birthdays of members of the police force. family, says Oppenheimer.
Ultimately, researching the impact of fonts on learning is one of the many ways we can explore the human mind. By continuing to research how basic memory processes work, we can find out how to help people retain information more effectively.