Illegible Type is Easier to Remember

“Previous research has shown that disfluency—the subjective experience of difficulty associated with cognitive operations—leads to deeper processing. Two studies explore the extent to which this deeper processing engendered by disfluency interventions can lead to improved memory performance.”

The Study: Diemand-Yauman, C., et al. Fortune favors the BOLD (and the italicized ): Effects of disfluency on educational outcomes. Cognition (2010), doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2010.09.012

Via David Hankin → The New York Times

2 replies to “Illegible Type is Easier to Remember”

  1. For some discussion surrounding this article prior to publication:

    This study touches on something very interesting: that “bad” typography could *potentially* influence motivation and memory. Due to numerous confounds however, it is not possible to determine what typographic factors influence perception and performance. Most notable was a failure to counterbalance the independent variables of font, colour, size and materials. This aside, the fact that there were significant results showing that memory improved with “bad” fonts while motivation remained unchanged this research certainly warrants further investigation. The fact that we might be able to help students do better simply by changing font with little cost to the educational system and almost no effort to teachers speaks for itself.

    • Thanks for the typophile link. I haven’t commented because I haven’t read it yet…

      For the illegible type, it’s possible that it works, but an eyesore for those fighting the ugly.

      If it were found to be undeniably true, the type community would need to own it. Regular, semi, …, bold, italic… is there room for more?

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