Thursday, April 21, 2011

Remembering What You Read

One of our fundamental goals as communicators is to get a message across; that is, to make sure what we say or write is clearly understood and remembered. Further, when you want a point to standout, we put it in big bold letters — LIKE THIS. Even if people only glance at copy, we believe, they will recall the bold highlights.

Now comes a study that says it is not what is in bold that’s remembered, but what is in unusual or hard-to-read fonts, where recall is highest, according to “Come On, I Thought I Knew That,” a recent article in The New York Times.

This blog is written in a familiar font, Myriad Pro. Here are a couple of examples of less familiar fonts where recall is best, as noted in the article:

LESS FAMILIAR FONTS

Eats flower petals and
12pt Comic Sans MS (italicized)

History is filled with the
16pt Monotype Corsiva

According to the article, “The reason that the unusual fonts are effective is that it causes us to think more deeply about the material,” a co-author of the study, Daniel M. Oppenheimer, a psychologist at Princeton, wrote in an e-mail to the writer. “ … Think of it this way, you can’t skim material in a hard-to-read font, so putting text in a hard-to-read font will force you to read more carefully.”

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