Ugly Fonts Can Make You Smarter

Ugly Fonts Can Make You Smarter

An intriguing study by Princeton psychologists suggests that students can learn and retain more of their lessons by using fonts that are harder to read.

Don Michael Acelar De Leon
  • 11 january 2011

If you’re an avid hater of Comic Sans, A Theme For Murder, and many other fonts that you find cruel to the eye, consider the following study conducted by researchers from Princeton University. Psychologists Connor Diemand-Yauman, Daniel M. Oppenheimer and Erikka B. Vaughan have found that deliberately making a material hard to learn and digest can significantly improve long-term memory and retention–for instance, using typefaces that are challenging to read. The researchers write:

This study demonstrated that student retention of material across a wide range of subjects (science and humanities classes) and difficulty levels (regular, Honors and Advanced Placement) can be significantly improved in naturalistic settings by presenting reading material in a format that is slightly harder to read…. The potential for improving educational practices through cognitive interventions is immense. If a simple change of font can significantly increase student performance, one can only imagine the number of beneficial cognitive interventions waiting to be discovered. Fluency demonstrates how we have the potential to make big improvements in the performance of our students and education system as a whole.

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