Fonts become eyeworms

I read an interesting article that made the case that readers can retain more of what they read if the publisher uses a different font. The suggestion is that a font that makes the reader work a little harder to comprehend it causes the brain to keep more.

A team at RMIT University in Australia came up with a new font called Sans Forgetica.

“Sans Forgetica is purposefully hard to decipher, forcing the reader to focus. One study found that students recalled 57 percent of what they read in Sans Forgetica, compared with 50 percent of the material in Arial, a significant difference,” according to the article on Wired.com.

Here’s an example of the font:

wi010119_ap_heffernan_sansforgetica_whatsthedeal_03

While you might retain more, can you read more with this font? Would you want to read an entire novel in this font? I don’t think I would? I was taught to use fonts that make it easier for the reader to continue reading.

So, it becomes simple math. If I can retain 50 percent of a 300-page novel set in Garamond or 57 percent of a 50-page report (because I can’t read the difficult font any longer), I’m keeping more with the easier font (150 pages vs. 29 pages). Granted, I’m pulling the reading length out of a hat, but you can get my drift.

If the font is harder to read, then I’ll read less even though I’ll retain more. The article notes the same problem with the font and says it should be used to highlight important information. This will work fine with a book that uses subheads and callout boxes, but what about a novel?

No help there.

Sans Forgetica is meant to be a visual version of an earworm (an eyeworm?). Something small that drills a piece of information into your head.

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