Mnemonic Techniques Explained With Examples in Easy Language

Mnemonic Techniques Explained with Examples
Mnemonic techniques are used to aid one's memory in recollecting things, thus improving overall memory. We explain its techniques with the help of some examples.
MissionSelf Staff
Last Updated: Apr 22, 2018
Fun Fact
National Geographic arranged a contest for making a mnemonic for the planetary system, including the dwarf planets. The winner was 10 year old Maryn Smith, who designed the mnemonic: "My Very Exciting Magic Carpet Just Sailed Under Nine Palace Elephants."
Mnemonics are memory aids that help us recollect information. When there are tons of things in your head, recollecting them becomes difficult. Also, as students, we all had a tough time trying to recollect difficult terms, ending up losing our scores. To aid our memory, we all used a simple mnemonic technique, giving acronyms, or making a funny sentence out of keywords, etc. However, mnemonics is an ancient technique, which is also used by professionals. The trick is to make things easy for the brain to recollect.

There are various techniques of mnemonics that can certainly make things easy. This can also be used in offices to remember rules easily, or to easily remember an important checklist.
Techniques of Mnemonics
Acronyms: This is the most common technique of mnemonics. They are nothing but abbreviations created out of the initial letters, and make it easy to remember. Further, it is easy to recollect the acronym too, if it contains vowels, making pronunciation easy.
Use Rhymes: Rhymes are easy to remember. Convert complex words or sentences into rhymes. Giving a rhythmic effect makes it easier for our brain to recollect. Other than that, you can also make use of musical mnemonics, by converting them into a song.
Make Use of Visual Imagery: If you have a photographic memory, this can be a clever method that can be used to recollect things.

"Visual imagery is a powerful mnemonic tool that helps learning and increases retention compared to, say, witnessing someone read words off a screen."
―Garr Reynolds, Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery (2nd Edition)
Method of Loci: This is an Ancient Greek mnemonic technique that uses visualization techniques, and aids in memory of the same. In this method, you try to visualize things through the perspective of locations, and try to remember them in the same order as the locations.
Use Acrostics: Acrostics make use of the initial letters of the words, and forms a sentence or an acrostic poetry starting from that word. This helps in remembering things, since sometimes, it is easier to remember a sentence, rather than remembering the terms or plain acronyms.

You can use any of the above, or a combination of the techniques for studying better.
Mnemonic Device Examples
Math
◾ When you multiply any number between one to ten, with nine, the total of the digits in the answer will always be nine.
Example: 2 × 9 = 18 (1 + 8 = 9)
6 × 9 = 54 (5 + 4 = 9)
9 × 9 = 81 (8 + 1 = 9)

◾ 'Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally' or PEMDAS
A very popular mnemonic that has been used for decades by students to remember the order of operations.
Parentheses
Exponents
Multiplication and Division (left to right)
Addition and Subtraction (left to right)
History
◾ Divorced, Beheaded, Died; Divorced, Beheaded, Survived.

This is one of the most popular mnemonics that has been used to remember the fates of the six wives of King Henry VIII. He annulled his marriage with his first wife, executed the second wife on the grounds of adultery, lost the third wife during childbirth, found the fourth wife too unattractive (hence annulled his marriage with her), and executed his fifth wife on the grounds of adultery. His sixth wife survived after his death.
Human Anatomy
◾ Cranial Nerves
Mnemonic for functions of the cranial nerves (sensory, motor of both)
Acronym: SSMMBMBSBBMM

'Some Say Marry Money But My Brother Says Big Brains Matter Most'
Psychology
◾ The Big Five Personality Traits: Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, Neuroticism
Mnemonic: OCEAN
Planets
There were many variations used for planetary system. However, when Pluto was enlisted as a dwarf planet, and with the discovery of other planet-types, there was a new need.
◾ Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Ceres, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto, and Eris.
The mnemonic "My Very Exciting Magic Carpet Just Sailed Under Nine Palace Elephants." by Maryn Smith, was converted into a song by Lisa Loeb.
To Remember the Days of the Month
◾ Use of knuckles: A very easy technique that we have been using to remember the days on a month. The depressions indicate the 30 days, and the knuckles indicate the 31 days (except February of course).

◾ Other than that, a traditional English mnemonic by 'Mother Goose' that was used -

Thirty days hath September,
April, June, and November;
February has twenty-eight alone,
All the rest have thirty-one,
Excepting leap year, that's the time
When February's days are twenty-nine.
English Grammar
For remembering vowels: a,e,i,o,u

Aunt Elise ironed our uniforms.
For Your Daily Grocery List
Having a hard time managing your shopping list? Why not use simple mnemonic techniques. For example -
COPS CAME
  • Cereals
  • Onions
  • Potatoes
  • Sugar
  • Corn
  • Apples
  • Milk
  • Eggs
The above are popular examples of mnemonics used. You can make things funnier and design your own mnemonics, by including one your favorite characters in it. But one thing is certain, the aforesaid mnemonic strategies surely help in improving memory.