My Visual Alphabet (extra post 8/29/12) Simple Application


The Visual Alphabet is unique because each letter substitute resembles its LETTER.
Example: Letter (A) resembles an Oil Derrick.

I see 4 memory positions on each letter (top, right, bottom & left). Then, I can peg 1 object that is linked to another object on each position. This gives me 8 objects which could be an 8 digit number using the Major System or Dominic’s system.

These objects could easily represent intangible words in a sentence, paragraph, etc. or 4 Decks of Cards.

Also, you can develop an extended Memory Environment for each Visual Alphabet Letter. For example, (A) could become an entire oil field. (D) could expand to include Robin Hood and his merry men. (F) could be a double tiered diving board in a big Olympic Pool with spectators, Olympians, & judges, etc. It goes on and on.

Try it out and see what you think.

(A) oil derrick
(B) yoke for oxen flipped up 90 degrees left.
(C) sled (extend the bottom part of the (C) to the right in a straight line)
(D) bow and arrow
(E) book shelf side view
(F) double tier diving board or an (F) wrench that plumbers use.
(G) Golf cart (imagine wheel at bottom)
(H) Football goal posts
(I) fence post or old Greek pillar (column)
(J) candy cane (maybe on Christmas tree)
(K) picnic table on its side
(L) chair without legs
(M) Daddy long legs spider (see its head in middle)
(N) Indian tent entrance (picture tent with the cut out entrance that looks like the letter “N”
(O) Ball, wheel, hoop
(P) tomahawk or balloon with string
(Q) hoop and stick
(R) smiley face with legs
(S) snake coiled
(T) clothes line pole or power line pole
(U) Magnet, horse shoe
(V) upside down Egyptian pyramid or wedge
(W) wisdom tooth (make it a cartoon character smiling)
(X) X marks the spot (pirate treasure)
(Y) sling shot, pitch fork
(Z) bolt of lightning, sign of Zoro

Very clever. If I understand this correctly, you are essentially creating a Journey with the string of letters, and then linking items to each stop on the Journey. While I can see this working well with the example you give, one item per letter, I’m not so sure about the 4 or 8 items linked to each letter. Things could get a little crowded. What has your experience been with that?

Yep, outlawyr, you understand correctly.

Someone else asked that same question plus a few more. See if the following helps:

Submitted by gavino on July 19, 2012 - 2:35am.

Hi Gary,

Very interesting! Can you give me an example of how you would add eight cards/images to your letter A oil well or derrick?

I am struggling to see how you would differentiate the positioning well enough in the complex image to make recall straightforward.

Many thanks.



garylanier’s picture
Submitted by garylanier on July 19, 2012 - 10:47am.

Gavino, thanks for your reply.

Well first, let me say that I’ve not kept up with all the marvelous contemporary mnemonic techniques that are yielding such incredible results. So, I don’t regard my Visual Alphabet System as being an absolute must on your wish list (laugh). It’s just something I do that helps my mind stay fit and really helps me in memorizing Bible verses and chapters for long term recall.

I use the Visual Alphabet in a couple of ways:

  1. ONE JOURNEY…All 26 Letters as one journey where each letter is a location. For me, this journey takes place in two intersections in my little town. I can mentally stand in the middle of each intersection and view the letters that surround me and what information each one holds.

  2. INDEPENDENT MINI-JOURNEY (not sure about this term) … This is like the ONE JOURNEY except each letter is its own island. In other words, when I take a mental observation of just one letter, my peripheral vision does not see the intersection with all the other letters, but rather the context of wherever I have placed it. This is very important to me. It allows me to use them over again without having to wait for the previous information to fade away so I can reuse the VISUAL LETTER(s).

Now to your question and struggle…

Gavino’s question: Very interesting! Can you give me an example of how you would add eight
cards/images to your letter A oil well or derrick?

Gary’s answer: I just shuffled a deck of cards (actually did this).

1)The first two cards are, the 10 of Spades (SIREN) & 8 of Clubs (FAT).

At the top of “A” the Oil Well, I see a fire truck (siren really loud) running into a huge FAT lady (maybe from the circus). Remember my memory slogan, START AT THE TOP AND READ LIKE A CLOCK. Sometimes I don’t link them, I just see them next to each other at the top of the oil well.

2)The second two cards are, Queen of Diamonds (my daughter) & 9 of Diamonds (BUN). I see my daughter eating a BUN (maybe a hotdog) at the right side of the Oil Well (letter “A”). This is very clear to me. You can add extras if need be but that takes more time.

If I mentally zoom out I see what’s at the top and right side of the Oil Well. This is an automatic check without having to over review. Sometimes I stay in a zoomed out mode.

3)The third two cards are, Queen of Hearts (my wife) & 3 of Spades (MOWER). I see the QHs pushing a MOWER (3 of SPADES) at the bottom (position/peg 3) of the Oil Well (letter “A”).

4)The fourth two cards are, 9 of Clubs (BAT) & Ace of Diamonds (ADding machine). I see a BAT flying around and attacking an ADding machine (Ace of Diamonds) on the left side of the Oil Well.

I see all four positions as I start at the top and read like a clock.

Gavino: I am struggling to see how you would differentiate the positioning well
enough in the complex image to make recall straightforward.

Gary: I understand your struggle. At best, memorizing is a struggle for me because of my particular battle (ADD). Keeping things simple is a must or I totally lose focus in an instant. I’ve just found that this process, and similar ones, work best for me in my quest to remember.

In addition to the fun in memorizing cards, another goal, as I mentioned earlier, is to be able to retain what I’ve memorized and not wait until it fades away so I can reuse the locations. That’s one thing this system helps me do because I can insert a VISUAL LETTER (INDEPENDENT MINI-JOURNEY) into another environment or location and use its surroundings to differentiate from other places it is used.

My ALPHA CHARACTERS (people in place of letters) are an extension of this system.

Thank, Gavino for your input.


gavino’s picture
Submitted by gavino on July 19, 2012 - 12:43pm.

Hi Gary,

Many thanks. I really think you have got something genuinely different here to anything I can recall reading in the memory books - and I have read a lot!

I have always used my peg images to interact with other (generally) similar sized images.

The concept of using the peg itself as a giant “roman room” or journey is quite brilliant!

One could do something similar with the Domnic System and have each Dominc person as a giant location - so I envisage locating complex images all around the body of a giant Adolf Hitler for number 18.

And also multiple alphabets of 26 objects each.

AND the concept of zooming in and out, that you only briefly mentioned, has also given me another ‘aha!’ moment. Another nugget.

The most I have ever got from one post, so thanks again.

Really interesting. Thanks for that additional information. I think what you’ve come up with is really unique. The visual alphabet is sort of a hybrid peg system and journey, with a great deal of flexibility built into it. Well done.

Thanks mucho!
I continually adapt and adjust to make it more efficient for my use.

Another fun thing I do that’s a good memorizing drill for me, is using each word of a memorized phrase (ex. first line of a poem) as a peg. I do this by creating a substitute (tangible) for every word in the phrase or sentence (or chapter for that matter).

When you do this enough, you will have an enormous dictionary of SUBSTITUTES (sound likes, symbol, ect).

Then, as I go through each word of the phrase, I peg a card at the TOP, RIGHT side, BOTTOM, and LEFT side.

13 WORD SUBs will hold a DECK OF CARDS, unless you put 8 on each word and go for 2 DECKS.

Try doing this with the first 13 words of the THE STAR-SPANGLED BANNER and see what happens.

Fun stuff!

So you’re saying you replace each word in the phrase or sentence with another word that sounds similar but is an object?

Yes, every word can become a peg/hook.

With 13 different words, I can easily memorize a deck of cards or hang a few binary numbers or any other info.

For example, if you take the first 13 words of the Bible verse, John 3:16 you have:


When I translate this into SOUND-LIKES or tangible SUBSTITUTES I have something like:

For (FUR coat)
God (army COT)
so (SEWing machine)
loved (LOAF of bread)
the (TEA) cup of tea
world (GLOBE on stand)
that (DAD) my father
He (E) my Visual Alphabet Letter for “E” which is the side view of a book shelf.
gave (CAVE)
His (HISsing snake)
only (ON LEAF) something on a leaf.
begotten (PEACOCK) beautiful bird
Son (SUN)

This then, gives me a sequence flow that I can use exactly like I do the VISUAL ALPHABET. Bingo! Back where I

I do this sort of thing for memory training and just for fun. But the concept is pretty much the same whether I memorize cards, VERBATIM sentences, paragraphs, or chapters.

But my field is MUSIC, NOT MEMORIZATION. It’s guys like you who are the movers and shakers in this field.

Thanks for the interest.

Hi Mr GaryLanier. Can you explain in detail how you can reuse the VA without waiting for fading the previous image? Example is much more better. Thanks a lot for your help.

Hello duyhoa83.

Do you remember my WAL-MART example? I hung an object that I wanted to remember on each VA letter.

If we just use the first 3 letters it would look like this:

W = I see the smiling WISDOM TOOTH walking into Wal-Mart throwinging HORSE SHOES at everyone.
A= I see the OIL DERRICK gushing oil in the Wal-Mart lot and everyone is rowing with OARs to escape.
L= the CHAIR without legs is in the furniture department at Wal-Mart. someone is sitting in it drinking TEA.

The Memory Environment (location) is the WAL-MART store. This is very important. My minds eye is always aware that I am at the Wal-Mart store as I place each object on the proper VA Letter.

Now suppose I go to WALGREENS drugstore and purchase a few more items?

I do the same as I did with Wal-Mart.

The key is to remember that I’m at a different place, purchasing different items. The Memory Environment has changed. My minds eye stays focused on WALGREENS, not Wal-Mart.

This time I will have a 1) prescription filled, 2) buy perfume for my wife, and 3) cookies for my granddaughter.

Here’s what I see:

W (WISDOM TOOTH) = I see a huge WISDOM TOOTH handing a PRESCRIPTION to the druggist at WALGREENS, not Wal-Mart.

A (OIL DERRICK) = In the ladies section of Walgreens, I see an OIL DERRICK gushing out thousands of bottles of PERFUME.

L (CHAIR) = I see a CHAIR (maybe a wheel chair) rolling down the isles of Walgreens, running into giant bags of COOKIES.

The key for me, is staying focused on the Memory Environment. If I’m at Wal-Mart, that’s where my Memory Environment focus is. If I’m at Walgreens, that’s where my Memory Environment focus is.

That’s it in a nutshell.

:slight_smile: i see now. Thanks a lot for your kind explanation.


Here’s a fun way to use this system. Suppose I am going to WAL-MART to buy some things.But before I go, I make a mental list of what I want to get.

The name, WAL-MART gives me 7 VISUAL ALPHABET LETTERS to use as pegs. Let’s keep it simple, I will only put 1 item on each VISUAL ALPHABET LETTER.

Here’s my list:

  1. The game of HORSE SHOES
  2. An OAR (I lost one at the lake)
  5. A can of OFF (insect repellant)
  6. A BOW & Arrow
  7. A WORLD GLOBE for my kids geography class

Review your VA LETTERS, then peg the Wal-Mart List to them.

W = I see the smiling WISDOM TOOTH walking into Wal-Mart throwinging HORSE SHOES at everyone.
A= I see the OIL DERRICK gushing oil in the Wal-Mart lot and everyone is rowing with OARs to escape.
L= the CHAIR without legs is in the furniture department at Wal-Mart. someone is sitting in it drinking TEA.
M= Daddy Long Legs SPIDER is crawling into Wal-Mart with a FLASH LIGHT on his back shinning.
A= (A#2) This is a stand up LADDER. Someone is spraying OFF (inspect spray) while standing on top of it.
R= I see the SMILEY FACE with legs shooting a BOW in the sporting goods section at Wal-Mart.
T= I see a clothes line pole (T) with a big WORLD GLOBE spinning on top of it in the Wal-Mart school supplies.

If you look close, you can see that the 7 Wal-Mart items can translate into 7 words.

W= YOU (for horse shoe)
A= ARE (for oar)
L= THE (for tea)
M= LIGHT (for flashlight)
A= OF (for Off insect spray)
R= THE (for Bow that looks like D that sounds like THE)
T= WORLD (for World Globe)

Put them in a sentence and you have, YOU ARE THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD.

This is a simplistic form of how I memorize Bible verses and chapters. It will work I suppose for just about anything in regard to memorizing words.

Fantastic! I also thought about some Alphabet-Shapes and wondered why no one else had mentioned it in the memory training books. Since many math formulas and equations utilize similar looking letters, these same ideas can be applied to memorizing mathematics.