We get a lot of questions about studying results and most of them are about maximizing results and getting the best results in the least study time (which is why we put together the study hack) but you might be surprised how often we’re asking about the best font for studying.
Obviously, most of us study with use of the internet now. I mean that has to be 99.9% of us at this point. And we should be taking every edge we can get.
So I guess it isn’t that surprising that universities started studying the link between studying and fonts.
The result – it mostly doesn’t matter. Although there is a cool little trick you can do with your font to help improve your active reading which should help your comprehension.
Interesting fact, did you know that the size of a font does not make it any easier for you to remember information that you read? Researchers from Princeton and Indiana Universities have confirmed that as opposed to font size, font style has more effect on your ability to retain new information from texts one has read. Interestingly enough, Connor Diemand, the lead researcher, and his colleagues found that font styles that are rather hard to read and unfamiliar are more preferable when studying, as they aid in learning and memory retention.
Psychologists believe that more often than not, our instincts towards how well we have hacked a new concept are way off. At times we think we have completely grasped a concept, only to be completely baffled during an exam when facing questions on the same concept. If this has happened to you, well, the font style you used to study might be to blame. Research studies on this area show that when information is rather easy to process (for instance when it is in a large familiar font, such as Arial), we tend to become too confident with our ability to retain it, and may even skim through it.
The same research supports the idea that if you want to learn a difficult concept, your chances of success are way higher if you go through what is termed as ental hurdles’, e.g small unfamiliar fonts. Basically, when information is presented in a challenging manner, you are more likely to read through it carefully, probably even severally and think about it intensely. This struggle essentially helps you retain the information. What this means is that if you are looking for the best font to study in, you really should consider difficult-to- read and unfamiliar fonts.
Obviously, the font still needs to be readable. But we often talk about the difference between active and passive reading and it’s easy to fall back into passive reading without meaning it. Forcing yourself to expend that little extra bit of effort with a new font might be enough to tip the scales.
In the study conducted by Connor Diemand and his colleagues, the researchers conducted a couple of experiments before reaching this conclusion. One of these experiments involved giving a bunch of people an average of 90 seconds to memorize text presented in different fonts. This people were then subjected to a memory test 15 minutes after memorizing the text. This experiment revealed an accuracy level of 72.8% for easy to read text(they used Arial font) and a remarkably better accuracy level of 86.5% for text that had been presented in a hard-to-read font(Comic Sans MS font).
I now have official confirmation. The only reason I ever passed an exam was that my handwriting was so bad. So when I was a kid and my and my teachers compared my notes to bird scratchings they were wrong!
… Alright, maybe they had a point. However, this is a cool idea and certainly worth a shot. I mean, I’m not suggesting you go and find the most obscure font but mixing it up might be worth a try.