Font Size and Learning: Why Bigger and Bolder isn’t Necessarily Better

By April 26, 2011R is for Research

According to a recent New York Times article, text written in bigger, bolder font doesn’t necessarily enhance the chances that you’ll remember it.

The article asserts that text written in stranger, harder to read fonts will enhance the chances that you’ll remember it, because it takes more time for your brain to process these fonts, and you have to concentrate harder to understand it.

This theory translates in to test preparation as well. According to one study discussed in the article, students performed betterĀ utilizing a poorly assembled outline that they had to correct to match the material. By being forced to work closely with the text, they performed better on an examination than students who were given an accurate outline.

This makes sense. Students have so much going on in their lives, than the simple act of being forced to decipher a more difficult font that takes longer to process will ensure that they better remember important facts come test day. Perhaps the DePaul student community should consider typing their notes and outlines in Comic Sans (one of the fonts specifically mentioned in the article) to boost their grade on their next exam.

Join the discussion One Comment

  • David S. says:

    I must respectfully disagree! The purpose of typography has never been to obscure meaning. Any typography that does so is BAD typography. Also, typography is under the purview of the designer. Many designers, unfortunately, use typography to enhance a layout, not to enhance the meaning of text. Also, I disagree that taking time to decipher type will increase retention of ideas. Idea retention comes exclusively (I believe) from the writer. It is our role, our challenge, our glory to manipulate words in all their connotations to determine and impose meaning for the reader.