Comic Sans may improve your reading retention, says study

Researchers from Indiana University and Princeton have described two experiments they conducted that appear to demonstrate that reading retention improves when a ‘hard to read’ font is used. The reason is that the extra concentration required means that readers remember more of what they read. […]

Two studies were conducted, the first included 28 adults, and the second consisted of 220 high school students spread across 6 focus groups.

Across both studies, it was found that those reading ‘ugly’ fonts such as Comic Sans and Monotype Corsiva performed better in tests than those reading eye-candy fonts such as Arial.

I picture people reading that headline (some people — not discerning, sensible people like you and me) and promptly redoing their website, brochures and newsletters in Lucida Blackletter and Cromulence Extra Confusing.

But those folks — who may well be waving this article in your face next time you ask them to choose Verdana or Georgia — should wait an em-dash or two before stampeding to the WYSIWYG font menu to see which typeface looks the most baffling and will therefore provoke total recall in your readers.

Because this study examined people in a lab who had been assigned the task of reading a passage of text. Chances are most of the people coming to your web site, reading your billboard or glancing at your newsletter don’t feel the same sense of obligation. And if it looks like a chore, the chances are much, much higher that they’ll pass it by.

So here’s a talking point that might help to dissuade the Comic Sans fans in your organization: Maybe the retention rate for someone reading something in a hard-to-read typeface is significantly higher.

But you can probably guess the retention rate for someone who doesn’t read it at all.

Posted via email from Rob Cottingham’s posterous