Trouble with the method of loci

My introduction to memory techniques was when I went to Anthony Metiever’s website. The reason why I joined this forum was that I was having trouble with some aspects of the memory palaces he was teaching.

  1. After I had used the palaces I was familiar with(home, local library, etc), I then had problems with palaces which I was less familiar with. I found it hard to remember stations in those palaces, especially when writing it down.

Is there a way in which I can remember them better. Thanks.


You might need to take your time to solidify the loci. Put yourself there, absorb the details, what do you see, what’s the design, touch it, and on and on…
And reviewing is just as important as memorizing.


I probably know less about mnemonics than you but having had great problems myself creating memory palaces I can tell you what i found helped immensely: The Vaughn Cube.
Means you can forget all about dredging your memory for stations -although like me you will probably find turning each room into a VC means you suddenly remember much more about the room and the things in it. Less is more, sometimes.

PS. I think AM has something similar in his paid course.


The reason loci works is you should be using palaces you are familiar with. They are locations you don’t have to work very hard to remember, because you know them so well.

I’ve used locations I’ve only been familiar with for a short period of time, such as really unique hotel rooms. But even then, the places were solidified in me memory.

You should either choose places you know better, or spend time becoming more familiar with the locations.


I second that… there are people that like to structure things in a way that they have the same number of locations in each room by always using 4 corners, ceiling, floor, etc. BUT personally, I’d stick to uniquely appearing features that catch your eye rather than forcing something forgettable to become something memorable (like that corner in that room).


Good advice. When I started, I had a fixed number of objects in each room. I abandoned that when I realized how many locations I was giving up by doing that.


Sorry to restate some of the things already mentioned, but the main reason Loci works is cause we know the place REALLY well. Example, when I started out, my memory palace was very basic - Front door, living room, bedroom, bathroom, etc. The living room soon enhanced to couch, coffee table, TV. Then I further upgraded it to -
1 - door mat
2,3,4 - who’s on seat 1, 2, and 3 of my 3 seater couch (previously - couch)
5 - what’s under my coffee table in the drawer
6 - what’s over my coffee table
7 - what’s on TV

I know your question is more about remembering unfamiliar memory palaces, but I’m telling you all this assuming you may be going into new memory palaces cause you may feel your existing ones aren’t big enough. I am just sharing a method by which you can increase the loci points of your existing palaces.


It surprises me that so many people here are “running out of memory palaces” based on places they know well. Unless you’re using really small palaces—or memorizing massive quantities of information, which seems unlikely early on—I don’t understand how that’s possible.

I only went to one elementary school, one high school, one college. Worked in only five places. Lived in only five houses. Yet with those locations at my disposal—plus the homes of friends/family, meaningful places I’ve visited around the world, favorite neighborhoods in favorite cities—I’m not sure I could run out of memory palaces in my lifetime.

Maybe the issue isn’t so much that folks are running out of palaces as it is that they may be overlooking useful, well-known places in their life that could be used for a memory palace because their idea of what a memory palace is is too limited. Or perhaps they aren’t wringing the most from the palaces they do have in use. (I hesitate to recommend packing in lots of locations in a very small space, because I think there’s real value in spreading things out. But I would think the average room could easily accommodate 5-10 locations without confusion.)

Of course, I may be completely misinterpreting the situation. Maybe those running out of palaces truly are memorizing massive amounts of information—far more than I—and do need a tremendous amount of space.



I regularly use less familiar places and they work just fine, as long as I don’t try to place more images than there are premade locations.

If I clearly remember where the restaurant counter, the entrance, the seats where we ate, the bathrooms, but nothing else, I still go ahead and use it without thinking twice. I just use those and link the palace to another as needed and/or just use what Ive added to it to add more later.

After going through it for review though, they end up being just as populated as my most familiar palaces.

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Hey yo!

You can add the images of your numbers at the stations of new journeys, I learned from Dominic O’Brien so I prefer to call it that. That way you can practice on both your number images and locations. The problem that may arose though is that if the image/scenario you put in the location is too strong, you might find it more difficult to insert another image.



I don’t have any old palaces. My natural memory is so poor that previous schools and homes are not strong enough to use. I can’t visualize them well enough. Also, I wasn’t observant enough to note useful details. I create new palaces whenever I need them. I use shops that I visit regularly or walk around the streets near home and find new routes. Or up in the local bush / forest. I’m up to 10 km of paths around home. The way you create new palaces will depend on the strengths and weaknesses of your natural memory.

I do limit the number of locations in a room to 10, with each 5th a window. That way I can jump in leaps of 5 or 10 and know where I am in the sequence. That’s really useful for things like the periodic table or countries of the world in population order. i also use that to ensure I haven’t lost any locations for almost any data set. I don’t bother for my history journey (another Dominic O’Brien fan here, hence I use the term journey a lot!) - in the history journey I add things wherever they fit in the time line.

When setting up a new journey, I put every fifth location at a street, or door to the next shop Or other significant indicator. I am rigorous about that so I can be sure that I recall every location when I scan it.

I can’t imagine running out of palaces. I just add more and find adding a new palace a great pleasure. I have way over 1000 locations in operation and constantly adding more.


I had the same problem, but I’m pleased to say I found the solution.

The way to strengthen your memory palace is to fill it with information you want to learn; then the images you place in it in return help you remember the locus, or memory station if you’re using Anthony’s terms.

Here’s a real-life example: I’m currently teaching English in Beijing, and I’m trying to learn Mandarin Chinese vocabulary, particularly the characters. I’m also trying to memorise the expanded PAO system I created. Using an app called Zizzle which creates little stories for each Chinese pictograph, I place each image given around familiar places in Walsall, UK where I live. In additions, I have a character from my extended PAO interact with the story pictograph. The place where I store the Chinese character image helps me remember the character, and the Chinese character image in turn helps me remember the place. Add to that the person from my expanded PAO interacting with the Chinese character image in the place and you’ve got a three-way mnemonic structure with each image of the triad reinforcing the other two. I learn the info I want to learn and the two mnemonic devices at the same time. When the info, in this case the Chinese vocabulary, moves into my general memory, the memory palace and person-peg are instantly recallable and can independently be used for other mnemonic purposes.

I’ll give you more detail on how I implement this. On my back stoop in Walsall is the image for 上 shàng, meaning “on top of.” The pictograph 上 looks like a tower. The falling mark above the letter à in shàng is the falling 4th tone and is represented by a cartoon bulldog with spiked collar. The little mnemonic story on the Zizzle app goes like this: "A tower stands on top of the sea. Then the bulldog (representing the 4th tone) punched the tower away and shouted, “That belongs in Shanghai!” I’m trying to learn a 1000 person expanded PAO. I’ve already got 00-99 down, so I’m starting at 100, personified at Sharon Osborn, wife as Ozzy Osborn who is number 00 on my basic PAO. So my modified story goes like this: A tower 上 sits on my back stoop with Sharon Osborn (100) on top of it. It grows in size, and the bulldog says, “That belongs in Shanghai!” and punches it away. Sharon Osborn says,“Nooooo!” but it’s too late. She comes tumbling down. She gets up and screams at the bulldog, “You ■■■■■■■ asshole! I’ll punch you to Shanghai!” and does just that.

And there you have it. I’ve memorised the Chinese character. In turn, if, say, I’ve gotten a new ATM card that has the number 100 in the PIN code, I recall instantly that 100 is Sharon Osborn and can have her interact with the whatever mnemonics I have for the other numbers in the PIN code at the ATM. Since she’s at the ATM, I don’t confuse the number 100 with the Chinese character on the back stoop. And speaking of the back stoop, I can see it even more vividly because I associated with two mnemonics, and I instantly know it is the 100th place in my memory palace. Now when I look at, say, a sign here in Beijing and see 上 I instantly know how it sounds and what it means. It is in my general, long-term memory, and the back stoop and person-peg Sharon Osborn are free for other information.

I also want you to consider the size of your memory palaces. Be careful not to make them too big, at least at the beginning. I made that mistake when I tried to make a 300-station memory palace out of a mall in Saudi Arabia. It was just too big an endeavour, and I wound up wasting time and energy. Start small, say a cafe with 8 stations, and connect them with other smaller palaces. Do this by stapling them together using mnemonic pegs. That’s what I’m doing with the Chinese characters. For example, suppose you want to remember 100 vocabulary words and you’ve got two stations in mind, an 8-station cafe and a 6 station pharmacy. Fill up the 8-station with the 8 vocabulary images and also 8 pegs. Continue onto the pharmacy, but the first station in the pharmacy will be occupied by your number 9 peg, and the sequence continues from there. So, in the cafe the last station is the 8th, and the peg I have for 8 is my PAO peg-person Harry Houdini. The first station in the pharmacy is occupied with the next vocabulary mnemonic interacting with my peg-person for number 9, the character Neelix from Star Trek: Deep Space 9. I’m using my PAO people-pegs to staple small memory palaces together into larger palaces.

I hope this helps you and anyone else reading this.

Keep at it,


use your cell phone and take pictures and video to your palaces


Does that mean that the number “1” is placed at the first location, “2” at the second location, “n” at the nth location?

If so, why would a palace be used rather than a peg system?



Because the OP is trying to find an easier way to remember the stations of his palace, especially the new routes.

I found it hard to remember stations in those palaces, especially when writing it down.

Is there a way in which I can remember them better. Thanks.

It’s also a Peg system, instead of images of words connected to numbers, he’d use his stations.

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I agree totally with Ex-Pat-Teacher’s comment about starting with small palaces and building them up. Although I am experimenting with an alternative.

My new palace for Chinese radicals (part of characters which is used to organise the words in a dictionary) is 5 km long. It has over 200 locations. I walk it for exercise, but photographed each location and have them stored in a little book which I can use at any time. I don’t know all the locations, but I know the numbering and fill in locations as I learn the radical - not in the order of the palace locations.

I have never done anything this way before. It is working because I never need to reel off the contents of the palace in order. My brain will just jump to the correct location. Because the radicals are in the order of the number of strokes, I know approximately where the location is, so the approximate number of strokes. I then add the characters which use that radical to all the other bits of the house or shop which acts as the location. But I can’t necessarily tell you what is the radical before or after it. So I wouldn’t advise this method for something which requires you to know the sequence.

For palaces where I needed to remember every location in sequence (most of them) I add only a few locations at a time, having revised everything to that point to check I am ready to add more.