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Memory Techniques

Memorizing numbers
Learning Memory Techniques

How to Memorize Numbers

There are various ways to memorize numbers, however one that is quick to learn and used by leading memory experts is the "Major System", also called the "Consonant System" or "Phonetic System".

The technique works on the basis that it's a lot easier to remember words than numbers, however rather than converting one number into a word (e.g. two = shoe), multiple numbers are typically converted into a single word, making it easier to remember longer numbers.

You start by pairing each number with one or more consonant sounds, as shown below:

Number Sound Memory Aid Single Digit Examples
1 d, t or th d and t have 1 down-stroke and sound similar add, do, to, day, at, audio, what
2 n n has 2 down-strokes an, new, annoy, Hannah, on, no
3 m m has 3 down-strokes am, I'm, home, Amway, him, my
4 r r is the last letter of 4 or, ore, ire, air, here, hero, Euro
5 l L is the Roman Numeral for 50 I'll, lie, ill, hall, hello, alley, hollow
6 j, sh, ch, soft g In script j has a lower loop, making it look like a 6, g is 6 turned around age, ash, chew, edge, wish, shy
7 k, hard c, hard g, q K is a pair of 7's stuck together go, cow, gay, awake, oak, yoga
8 f, v In script f looks like an 8 if, wave, wife, eve, few, vow, hi-fi
9 b, p P is a mirror image of 9 and b sounds similar pa, pie, hip, hobby, whip, bay, bye
0 z, s, soft c Z is the first letter of Zero, the others sound similar was, use, has, easy, ass, ice, sea

Vowels and W, H and Y aren't part of the system, so they can be used as you wish.  If you wanted to remember a single digit, the examples shown above would be used.  For multiple digits, you combine the sounds to make longer words, e.g. 42 could be "ran" or "iron" (amongst others).

For still longer string, you form these words into a sentence.  As there are multiple possibilities, it's possible to create sentences that mean something in a bizarre way, indeed the stranger and funnier the better!

Putting the technique into practice

When you see a list of sounds and matching numbers, it may seem complicated, but as soon as you start applying the memory technique, you'll discover that it's easier than it seems.

For example, if you wanted to remember 1234567890, as part of a sequence, you could remember one of the following (or many other possibilities):

Number 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0
Word combination 1 what numerology gave boss
Word combination 2 the new immoral cheeky vibes

To help remember which consonants match which numbers, I recommend memorizing "what numerology gave boss" as this gives you one of the possible sounds you can use for the numbers from 1 to 9, then 0.

There's some great free software to help memorize numbers at which suggests possible words for number combinations and makes the technique a lot easier to apply (you have to scroll down the home page quite a bit to find the 'Download' button).

Why not start by creating and remembering a phrase for a 10 to 16 digit number - like your credit card number, or a friend's phone number that you don't already know.  Create a compelling phrase using the Major System, memorize that phrase and then come back to it later, keeping "what numerology gave boss" in mind as an aid to recall and in all likelihood you'll find that by applying this technique your memory has already vastly improved!  To separate this from other phrases, add your friend's name or your bank's name at the start of the phrase before you start the mnemonic words.