Memorization Technique Using Numbers

I took a memorization course because of the grocery store I worked at when I was much younger. It taught how to memorize lists of items by creating images of the numbers and attaching them to images of the items within the list. You can memorize a list of 10 things with the information I’m providing.

The way it works is first you need to have the basic number images memorized. You will always use the same images to represent those numbers. The reason why the images listed below were chosen is because they look like or represent the numbers really well. So make sure to have the first list in your mind to begin with. Once you have them, you have them for good. I haven’t used them much in the last few years, yet I was still able to easily recall them for this post.

Here are the images for the numbers:

1 – A candle. Have it burn whatever the item is.
2 – A swan[1]. Have it biting the item.
3 – A sideways W. Have it act like a handle on the item.
4 – A sailboat. Have the item balancing on the mast[2]
5 – A hand[3]. Have it grabbing the item.
6 – Golf club. Hit the item with it.
7 – A garden hoe. Have it chopping the item.
8 – Two links of a chain. Have the item going into and out of the links over and over.
9 – A balloon on a stick. Have the item pop the balloon.
10 – A martini[4]. Stir the martini with the item.[5]

Now, in your mind, imagine those pictures for the numbers interacting with the items you’re trying to memorize. Here is an example list that you might try to memorize for this “lesson”[6]:

1. Tire – The candle burns the tire. Could even mention the burning rubber.[7]
2. A book – The swan has taken a bite out of the book and is chewing it.
3. Pencils – The W is attached to the side of the pencil. But now there’s more pencils. You now have a suitcase made of pencils.
4. A computer – The computer is plugged into a socket in the sky and is balancing on the mast. It falls over and shorts out in the water.
5. A mountain – Your hand is holding the mountain. You must be a giant.
6. A water melon – The golf club hits the melon and gets embedded into it. Now you could hit a soccer ball with that club.
7. Homework – Chop up those papers like you mean it!
8. Phone – The phone has sprouted legs and is running through the links of the chain.
9. A spoon – Actually it’s now a spork so it has pointy tips and you pop the balloon with it.
10. A broom – Must be a really large martini if it requires a broom to stir it.

Now close your eyes and try and list the items in your mind. You’ll find that you remember this entire list. Not only that, but if you get someone to call out random numbers, you should be able to tell them the specific item for that number. And finally, get them to call out about 5 or 6 items/numbers, and you’ll not only be able to tell them the item or number that goes with it, but also the items and numbers they did not call from the list.

Try coming up with your own lists. Give your brain time to “forget” between lists though or you’ll end up getting them confused. Oh, and for this to be useful, you might want to make up useful lists. Works great for short shopping lists.

Footnotes (or possibly random gibberish):
  1. looks like one[]
  2. the weirder, the easier to remember.[]
  3. five fingers[]
  4. toothpick and olive[]
  5. Since coffee is popular, you could also try making this the overhead view of a cup of coffee and a straw. The stirring still fits.[]
  6. make sure to picture each of these in your mind as you read them[]
  7. Smells are easy to remember.[]

Author: Saphrym

I am a father, husband, teacher, thinker, reader, and writer. I talk to inanimate objects which tend to talk back to me. Just kidding. They whisper.

7 thoughts on “Memorization Technique Using Numbers”

  1. Great post.. Yes visualization is very key when it comes to memorizing things. I can now visualize with my eyes open, which is a good thing to practice, because now you can be recalling things without people knowing.


  2. Yeah you can use the technique outlined in this article.. The only problem i see with this technique is that there isn’t any sequence. unless a tire is always equal 1, and book would always equal 2 etc.. you could forget an item of the list.. what you could do is use the cicero method.. Pick out a place you are familiar with, like your house.. pick a room… walk clock wise around the room in your mind and pick out ten items in your room.. that’s your sequence or that’s your ten items.. picture these items in your mind.. example is my kitchen:

    1 – washer dryer room
    2 – pantry door
    3 – cupboard door
    4 – cooker
    5 – fridge
    6 – garbage can
    7 – sink
    8 – bread bin
    9 – toaster
    10 – dish washer..

    There you go i can never forget that sequence as i see it every day in my house, so i have a good mental image of that… Now i can attach to that whatever I want remember..

    In regards to remembering names.. You have to turn that persons name into some kind of image of some kind that will trigger the recall.. then when you look at the person pick out something unique about them and make a connection between the image for their name to the unique thing about them(big ears, orange hair,nose ring, etc…)


    Tom (has a phony tail) – tomato – make a visual image of a tomato connected to pony tail.

    Christine(large ear-rings) – Christ on a cross – make a visual image of a Christ on a cross connected the bottom of the large earnings..

    Jordan(shiny bracelet) – basket ball(Michael Jordan) – make a visual image of the basketball on his wrist/shiny bracelet..


  3. @Sean Darryll: Thanks for the idea for the names. I’ll try it out.

    As for the sequence, it’s built into the pictures of the numbers, i.e., the candle, swan, etc. Those are the items used to memorize the list. Tire could easily be 5 and you could imagine a huge hand (the picture for 5) grasping the tire.

    I have heard of the Cicero method, but in this case we can agree to disagree. I prefer the “silly picture” method more. ;)

    Thanks again for the ideas for names!

  4. :-) yes i do remember that one, that is good too…So sorry you do have the sequence as the candle would always equal 1 and the swan would always equal the number 2 and they do look like the number they represent. great!

    Yeah I hope that you get better at remembering names.. You just goto find the technique that works for you..

    Take care..

  5. One reason why we find it tough to remember names is that while introducing each other, our focus is getting divided between listening to the name and the handshake.

    So, what I do to remember names is:
    1. A 1-second pause before giving handshake (of course, tactfully!) to make sure that I got the name right.
    2. Repeat the name as in “Nice to meet you MARK” while giving the handshake.
    3. Use it at least 2-3 times in the first meeting itself no matter how short the duration is.

    However, I feel sticking to one method actually narrows down our mental faculties. IMHO, we should learn different methods and allow our mind to naturally come up with a method suitable to the occasion.

    Let noble thoughts come from all sides,

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