Sans Forgetica: Debunking Claim of Font Effectiveness in Reading for Comprehension and Recall

[Editor’s note: This is part two of a three-part series examining the development of a font touted to help struggling readers.]

Last week we looked at data from Australian researchers that suggested their Sans Forgetica font, with its disrupted letterforms, could aid readers with initial comprehension and later recall of information. The original team’s study included 400 students and found that 57% remembered facts written in Sans Forgetica, whereas only 50% remembered facts written in Arial.

However, researchers from the University of Warwick and the University of Waikato, New Zealand, carried out their own experiments to try to replicate the data, but they found, instead, that the font doesn’t enhance memory. The team has published their new findings in the paper titled ‘Disfluent difficulties are not desirable difficulties: the (lack of) effect of Sans Forgetica on memory’, in the journal Memory. They conducted four experiments but found no evidence of memory-boosting effects.[1]

The four experiments included:

  1. Establishing the extent to which material written in Sans Forgetica feels difficult to process
  2. Comparing people’s memory for information displayed in Sans Forgetica and Arial
  3. Analyzing the extent to which Sans Forgetica boosted people’s memory for information in educational text
  4. Testing people’s understanding of concepts presented in either Sans Forgetica or Arial

The four experiments contained 882 people in total.

In the first experiment, the subjects indicated that Sans Forgetica feels harder to read than Arial.

In the second experiment, the researchers found that when they showed people pairs of words in either Sans Forgetica or Arial, subjects recalled fewer Sans Forgetica pairs than Arial pairs.

In the third experiment, the researchers discovered that when subjects were shown educational information in Sans Forgetica and Arial, and were then tested on their recall of the information, there was no evidence that Sans Forgetica improved their performance.

Finally, in the fourth experiment, the researchers found that when testing people’s understanding of educational passages presented in Sans Forgetica or Arial, people had equal understanding of the information presented; there was no proof that Sans Forgetica improved their initial comprehension or later recall of the text and its meaning.

Dr. Kimberley Wade of the Department of Psychology, University of Warwick, comments:

“After conducting four peer-reviewed experiments into Sans Forgetica and comparing it to Arial, we can confidently say that Sans Forgetica promotes a feeling of disfluency but does not boost memory like it is claimed to.”

Andrea Taylor of the University of Waikato, New Zealand, adds that “Our findings suggest we should encourage students to rely on robust, theoretically grounded techniques that really do enhance learning, rather than hard-to-read fonts.”

Given the proliferation of fonts with current computer technology, it’s inevitable that someone else will try to come up with another font that aids retention. Educators and casual readers alike should remain skeptical of the findings unless they’re able to be rigorously replicated.


Next time: Reading Aloud and Memory Recall



[1] University of Warwick. (May 28, 2020). “Previously claimed memory boosting font ‘Sans Forgetica’ does not actually boost memory.” Retrieved from


Author: AceReader Blogger

The AceReader blogging team is made up of specialists in a number of different areas: literacy, general education, content development, and educational software. For questions about posts, please submit them in the form below. For suggestions about blog topics, please email them to

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