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How colour helps you revise

March 11. 2021

Aid your revision with colour

When revision time comes, most of us reach straight for the highlighters. Adding some colour to your revision notes is a great idea. As well as making the most important information stand out from the page, the use of colour is scientifically-proven to improve memory and recall.

Why does colour help?

Colour is often used while going through revision notes or textbooks to highlight the important bits, making it easier to find and read the most useful information on the page when we read back through our notes.

Beyond that though, colour itself can improve memory. Writing in colour has been shown to help us retain 50-80% more information. Another psychological study found that when participants were shown a series of images, recall was 10% better with colourful images compared to black and white images. The researchers determined that colour images create a richer memory. Perhaps this is because 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual. Using colour helps the brain process what’s on the page as visual information rather than just a page of text.

Use similar colours for the same topic and this will help you build an association between the two, improving recall.  If you’ve used a yellow highlighter for all of your science notes, wearing a yellow bangle can prove very useful in remembering that highlighted information.

Which colours should you use? 

Choose your colours carefully as certain colours have a bigger impact on memory than others. You’re far more likely to remember something written in red, because red grabs your attention. Yellow and orange are also attention-grabbing colours but avoid dull colours like grey and brown. 

Red and yellow both help stimulate the mind, but they do so in different ways: Red generally means something is important and needs our attention, so is good for memory retrieval, whereas yellow helps stimulate mental activity and highlights what’s important. Studies have shown that blue and green both have a calming influence and increase concentration, while blue in particularly is proven to boost creative thinking. 

It’s not just the colour of your pen that can influence memory though – the folders you use, the paper you write on, or even the colour of your revision snacks can all help trigger the emotions and psychological responses associated with different colours.

Combining colours has proven to be effective too. Using contrasting colours can help make information stand out. Generally speaking, the bigger the contrast the better. Don’t go overboard by using too much colour though. The key to making the information memorable is making sections distinctive through use of colour, so save the highlighters for the most critical information that you need to remember.
Whether you’re studying for your GCSEs, A-Levels,  break out the highlighters and bright pens and get colourful! 

There are 47 colours in STABILO’s point 88 range so why not use these to brighten up your revision notes. 


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