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Ralf Herrmann

Opinions about Sans Forgetica

Sans Forgetica poll  

14 members have voted

  1. 1. Is Sans Forgetica a useful study tool?

    • Sounds convincing
      2
    • Doesn’t sound convincing
      10
    • Not sure
      2


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Ralf Herrmann

The media certainly love the story. But what do you think about it? Share your thoughts with the community. 

http://www.sansforgetica.rmit

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George Thomas

Well, it's an interesting concept and apparently has some scientific basis to it. It isn't possible, for me at least, to say yea or nay because extended use trials will be necessary to confirm their claims. If it really works it might be a very useful teaching tool.

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Greg Yerbury

I wonder if a modern  blackletter font would have the same effect ie one of the articles says 'it’s good to have a little bit of an obstruction added to that learning process because if something is too easy it doesn’t create a memory trace,'

  • Like 1
  • clever! 1

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Riccardo Sartori

I agree with Tiro Typeworks' take on this one:

 

  • Like 4

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Melchior

Ugh....despicable!

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Albert-Jan Pool

I think this is BS. Yes, typography may be more readable when some text elements  draw more attention than others. Also we may remember something more easily when it is presented in an unconventional way. But this is nothing new. Many advertising campaigns use this mechanism. Breaking rules may be a means to stand out. But that does not mean that a ‘broken’ typeface is the ultimate way of ‘repairing’ our memory. The same goes for Sans Forgetica. The naming is a nice word game. Good marketing for RMIT. In the long run, as TiroTypeworks suggest, it will prove not to be of help anymore. Many other striking brand new display faces will do the same trick. In order to understand to how they will perform on longer terms, look at some Letraset or Mecanorna typefaces from the seventies, such as Lazybones, Via Face, Chromium or New Zelek. Once they were new they were conceived as hip and striking. Today they rest on the typographic graveyard. To speak with Frank Zappa, we may say that they are not dead, but they smell funny. At least. When the hype is over, Sans Forgetica will be forgotten too.

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Ralf Herrmann

I have more, but my main problems are these:

The conclusion is questionable. The original studies found that if you are forced to read slowly (in this case through a font change) you might remember the content better. That is not surprising at all. The conclusion from that should have just been the reversal: “You want to remember what you read? Read the text slowly and carefully!” Duh! You are in full control of that and you can even adjust it depending on the text or specific passage you read. With a font with bad legibility you cannot do that. In comparison to using your own ability to read carefully, a font is such a crude tool to potentially achieve this effect. 

Using that tools also has its costs. And that isn’t really mentioned. They only pitch the potential benefits – which might not even exist or be noticeable outside of lab experiments. I would love to hear from people who will actually try to read a considerable amounts of pages in that font. I’ confident in my expectation: they won’t get far. The costs of this straining reading experience should outweigh the potential benefits by a wide margin. And should someone actually stick with it and get used to reading the font without too much effort – well, then the necessary effect of slowing you down will be gone. 

It doesn’t need to be this font. The original studies who found this effect didn’t use Sans Forgetica and the effect isn’t based on that font. There are thousands of fonts, which will slow you down, because they are not meant for copy texts. Yet, their advertising paints it, as if this effect is caused specifically by this font or at least that the font is optimized to achieve that effect. From a typography/type design point of view, I just don’t see why that should be the case. 

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Albert-Jan Pool

Fully agreed, Ralf!

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DavidLemon

There are other studies that call this whole approach into question (e.g. http://www.learningscientists.org/blog/2016/10/25-1). It reminds me of the repeated attempts to assist dyslexics by making weird fonts. I'm sure it's well intentioned, but I don't think this sort of thing will ever actually be helpful.

  • Like 3
  • very interesting! 1

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Nick Shinn

I like that it was an interdisciplinary collaboration. 

But as Ralf notes, there was no design process here which optimized the effect.

And there was minimal scientific process — a more rigorous approach would have been to test existing hard-to-read fonts and attempt to identify qualities which make them perform well in the tests.

The inference that “stencil + backslant” is the route to memorability is spurious, as there are many, many ways in which type designs can be hard to read! We made quite a few fuck-ups back in the days of Deconstruction, Post-modernism and Grunge. A couple of mine: Artefact and Morphica, and of course Phil Baines’ ff-you-can-read-me, which Forgetica called to mind.

 

 

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Richard Hunt

Ralf Hermann points out the essential problem: hard-to-read typefaces don't get read.

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Czl Lebleu

I think that, like most things, it depends on the person! If you think it will help, then it probably will. If you think it's nonsense, it probably won't help you remember anything, and instead will frustrate you.
That said, I might give it a try if I have to memorize something, just for the fun of it.

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cast foundry

I wonder why in the documentation there is no scientific documentation of the experiments they did. Or I can't find it?

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jayar

Please excuse my French, as we might say in Canada, but this is complete bullshit. If I have understood correctly, they only compared it with Arial in reading tests. There are certainly a number of faces which would come out on top in such a comparison. I saw another readability test where Park Avenue was compared with Arial. Arial was thereby “proven” to be the most readable face. Really – it was in the New York Times so it must be true. 

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