Verbatim Approach to Memorizing Sentences & Paragraphs

Verbatim Approach to Memorizing Sentences & Paragraphs

By using what I call a Memory Environment, that is basically a picture backdrop, that represents the overall subject matter, I can mnemonically memorize word sequences by the use of image pegs or hooks.

Though using the peg system is common, a unique addition that has been very helpful to me, is the use of Alpha Characters. They work like mini-journeys (4 locations each). Their sequence is derived from the first word or two of each sentence, which I call the Sentence TITLE.

Example: If the sentence begins with the WORD “AND,” the Alpha Characters used are 3 familiar Ladies whose names start with A, N, & D. Each Lady holds 4 words, 12 words all together. If the sentence is longer, add the MEN whose names start with A, N, & D. That gives 12 more words…and so on. If that’s not enough, simply add an extra word to the TITLE.

One other thing, every word in each sentence has a SUBSTITUTE or SYMBOL. That’s what gives the verbatim possibility.


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Could you please explain with an example?

Why is it necessary to memorize sentences and paragraphs verbatim? Don’t you trust your intelligence at all to say something meaningful based on what you know ?

Hi Ginel…

For your life, most likely word for word memorization IS NOT NECESSARY nor important. You receive information, remember the facts and context, then say something meaningful based on your comprehension of what you remember.

You are a blessed person.


And YES, while I have a limited amount of intelligence, I do trust it to say something meaningful based on what I know. But some things I know were first seeded in my mind through verbatim memorization… word for word.

It’s also not necessary to memorize a deck of cards or a list of random words either. But mostly I do these things because I enjoy doing them.

But there is another reason, I have found that Verbatim Memorization helps me develop FOCUS. I have ADD and am also Dyslexic. The visual mental exercises I go through demand focused attention and that’s exactly what I need.

Also, using mnemonic systems for verbatim memorization is the only way I can memorize Scripture Verses and chapters where every word must be in the right place for a particular translation to be accurate. I use mnemonics to memorize prose and poetry.

Most of the time, I have to detail things to pieces in order to remember a few bits of data. So, I don’t mind the over-kill approach if something is important to remember.


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I have learning difficulties also … but … I don’t think that memorizing verbatim equals learning . Learning is based heavily on understanding . I was facing this problem myself back when I was in college a few years back . I did not know about mnemonics … but I would go over and over the material … and because the words of the text were so new to me … I was just memorizing without really understanding anything … which is heavily inefficient . I got bad grades … but I passed barely up to a point . But that is not the point really … maybe you can pass with mnemonics … there are people that go to college and learn with mnemonics and pass .( Most colleges across the world give you good grades for memorization . Some colleges like Oxford and Harvard put emphasis on you coming up with different theories based on what you learn ). Even if you use mnemonics to memorize verbatim material … that is still not the way to go in my opinion even if you have dyslexia or ADD . I may have ADD myself … who knows . I gave this example on another topic … and people I see don’t want to take into account what is very obvious . If I try to learn a poem … well… memorizing it verbatim … does not mean that I know what it is in that poem . If I want to know what it is in that poem … well … I have to go and figure out what the author meant … what do those metaphors signify … ask multiple questions about that poem … and come up with different answers . Also you need to connect ideas between them . That is what learning is all about . Try to explain in your own words what that text means … and you won’t have problems knowing it . You don’t need to know every word that a book contains to know what it is written in that book . It is very inefficient when it comes to understanding … and very time consuming to do that with palaces and stuff .

Sounds like you’re trusting your intelligence and saying something meaningful based on the knowledge you have.

Keep up the good work.


Well …my purpose is not to become obnoxious … people can learn how they want from my point of view . But … I feel the duty in me to inform that there is some other way to do things . This is a site about memorization … and people here , I think, confuse memorization with thinking and understanding . People think that if they remember something … it is enough to use that information in the future effectively . I think otherwise . I think you need to do some form of practice with that information for it to become useful . For example … writing an essay on something is more efficient than learning with loci .

Thank you Gary, that’s quite nice :slight_smile:

Glad you like it, garoth. This system has really helped me to memorize.

Dear Gary, your verbatim approach seems to work for you, and it’s great that you share your personal experience with us. I personally am trying to build up a loci based memory palace. Last but not least you developed your personal Language System, and that’s the fact!


Gary, that’s an amazing and creative system!

Sure, peddiraju jakka,

The following post was make on the FORUM… after it, you’ll see a memory grid I made that goes along with my earlier post. After you look at it a bit, I think you’ll get the just of my answer to Aazib’s question (I haven’t posted it there yet).

By the way, though I memorized the Wright Brothers article verbatim using this system, the grid is for clarity only, to give a mind’s eye view of what I see.

Hi, Let’s say you want to memorize this:

The Wright brothers, Orville (August 19, 1871 – January 30, 1948) and Wilbur (April 16, 1867 – May 30, 1912), were two American brothers, inventors, and aviation pioneers who were credited with inventing and building the world’s first successful airplane and making the first controlled, powered and sustained heavier-than-air human flight, on December 17, 1903. From 1905 to 1907, the brothers developed their flying machine into the first practical fixed-wing aircraft. Although not the first to build and fly experimental aircraft, the Wright brothers were the first to invent aircraft controls that made fixed-wing powered flight possible.(Wikipedia).

How would YOU?

Aazib Chaudhry



Memory Environment Image: Wright Brothers Airplane in grassy, sandy lot

Sentence Number 1 of 3:The Wright brothers, Orville (August 19, 1871 – January 30, 1948) and Wilbur (April 16, 1867 – May 30, 1912), were two American brothers, inventors, and aviation pioneers who were credited with inventing and building the world’s first successful airplane and making the first controlled, powered and sustained heavier-than-air human flight, on December 17, 1903.

Sentence Title (usually first word or two): THE WRIGHT



Sentence Number 2 of 3: From 1905 to 1907, the brothers developed their flying machine into the first practical fixed-wing aircraft.

Sentence Title: FROM


Sentence Number 3 of 3: Although not the first to build and fly experimental aircraft, the Wright brothers were the first to invent aircraft controls that made fixed-wing powered flight possible.

Sentence Title: ALTHOUGH


To me, building a SUBSTITUTE WORD vocabulary, is like learning another language. After a little practice, things begin to fall in place.

Thanks for the interest,

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Just saw the video! Your verbatim system is amazing; it’s the thing I was looking for. Thanks Gary :bigsmile: .

Thank you, Olegario… you might find my video THE LANIER VERBATIM SYSTEM, on this site interesting.

Hi Gary,

is your verbatim approach also possible for Law Texts? How would you memorize the following article of the Human Rights Convention:

Right to life

  1. Everyone’s right to life shall be protected by law. No one
    shall be deprived of his life intentionally save in the execution of
    a sentence of a court following his conviction of a crime for which
    this penalty is provided by law.
  2. Deprivation of life shall not be regarded as inflicted in
    contravention of this Article when it results from the use of force
    which is no more than absolutely necessary:
    (a) in defence of any person from unlawful violence;
    (b) in order to effect a lawful arrest or to prevent the escape
    of a person lawfully detained;
    © in action lawfully taken for the purpose of quelling a riot
    or insurrection.

best regards,

Hello deinemarke,

Sorry for the long delay in replying.

My son-in-law is a lawyer in Tulsa, Oklahoma (USA) . So, though I am below the novice level in legal matters, I enjoy hearing courtroom stories of how some cases have been won or lost in such unusual ways.


Preliminaries 1: an understanding of basic mnemonics such as visualization, association, pegs, Major System, Loci, and Substitute Words.

Preliminaries 2 (Lanier stuff): Alpha Character (AC), Visual Alphabet, Memory Environment (ME) , the S-S-S Principle and “Start at the top, read like a clock.”


I see a particular Street Entrance (SE) [the street has many familiar buildings]. As I look at the SE, I see (imagine) a giant SoDa in a large soda glass. I make sure that it is at the street entrance only. The S stands for Section and the D for Roman Numeral I (Major System #1). Thus, I can see SECTION I, simply by observing what is at the entrance to the street, a big SODA. But, I’m not through with SODA yet.

Since Section I (Soda) has a title, RIGHTS AND FREEDOMS, I will peg these 3 words to the SODA by using SUBSTITURE WORDS.

Here they are: RIGHTS = Rice, AND = Hand, & FREEDOMS=Free Drums


Almost any image I use has the possibility of 4 positions, middle Top, middle Right, middle Bottom and middle Left.

At the Top (pos 1) of the SODA, I see RICE (maybe Rice Krispies) being poured into it. At the Right (pos 2), I see a giant HAND slapping the SODA. At the Bottom (pos 3), I see FREE DRUMS beating at the bottom of the SODA glass. The word FREE may be painted on the DRUMS (plural).

When I zoom out with my minds eye, I can see all the parts that make up this image and watch as they decode/translate into, SECTION I – RIGHTS AND FREEDOMS. All of this is at the Street Entrance. Now to ARTICLE 2.


As I enter this familiar street, I see (imagine) a large AwNing in the middle (width view). It is facing a familiar SIDEWALK and a familiar STRUCTURE (building). Since this is a bit odd, it is easy to remember. The A in the word, AWNING, stands for ARTICLE and the N for 2 (Major System #2). Thus I have ARTICLE 2 staring at me as if it is a neon sign.

Again, as in Section I, ARTICLE 2 has a title, THE RIGHT TO LIVE. I will peg these 3 words to the AWNING by using the following SUBSTITUE WORDS:

RIGHT=Write, TO=Toe (or Tootsie Roll), LIVE=Leaf

As in Section I (SODA), I peg these SUBSTITUTE WORDS, in some imaginative way, around the AWNING, starting at the top and reading like a clock.

I can now see the AwNing with the Sub Words pegged to it. As I decode/translate, I see and read, ARTICLE 2 – RIGHT TO LIFE. Now to the SIDEWALK.

THE SIDEWALK (1st & 2nd Part Titles)

I am now standing under the AWNING, looking at the familiar SIDEWALK that runs in front of the familiar STRUCTURE (building).

On the SIDEWALK, there is a very long TIE rapped around an AVIARY with WANDS sticking out all over. This image is located left-center of the building. The TIE is the SUB for the number, “1.” The AVIARY with the WANDS is the SUBSTITUTE for the word, EVERYONE’S. Together, they read, “1. EVERYONE’S.”


It is the letters in the word, EVERYONE’S, that gives me the Alpha Characters (ACs) list. Each Character holds 4 words or less. The ACs will hold every word in the two sentence paragraph, I call, Part 1.

All I do now, is select my ACs, beginning with the Ladies (L), according to the letters, E-V-E-R-Y-O-N-E-S. If I need more ACs, which I will in this case, I simply continue where the Ladies stopped, but this time using Male ACs.

Part 1 Alpha Characters:

Elizabeth - 1 (right/write), 2 (to/toe), 3 (life/leaf), 4 (shall/shell)
Vickie -
Evelyn -
Rose -
Yoko Ono -
Olivia -
Nancy -
Ester -
Susan -
Earl - 1 (penalty/pen tree), 2 (is/hiss [ice]), 3 (provided/pro hide), 4(by/bye [wave]
Victor- 1 (law/law officer).

For Part 2 of ARTICLE 2,
I just place NOAH (Major System #2) on the SIDEWALK at the right center-side of the building. Then, I place Deborah (Kerr) on the ark having a VACATION. Deborah linked to Vacation gives me a SUB for DEPRIVATION. The whole substitute image reads, “2. DEPRIVATION.”

After this, I follow my ALPHA CHARACTERS application as I did with the word, EVERYONE’S.

That’s pretty much the way I do it.

This system really works well for non-verbatim use also. I just stick a key word in here and there, just enough to trigger the thought.

For more on ALPHA CHARACTERs, click the following link and scroll down to ALPHA CHARACTERS:

Thanks for the interest,

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Hi deinemarke,
Yep… I just basically, take the first WORD of the sentence I want to remember, then use the letters of that WORD to cue me on which mini-journeys (each one holding only 4 words) will be used. Each word in the sentence has its own SUBSTITUTE (sound-a-like or symbol).

Then, I look at each mini-journey (in the letter order of the first WORD of the sentence), and hang 4 SUBs on each of them, beginning at the TOP, RIGHT, BOTTOM, and LEFT.

As I ZOOM OUT with my mind’s eye view, I see all the SUB WORDS associated (pegged) in some way to the 4 locations of each mini-journey. It’s like seeing paper with 4 words written on each line, except in this case the words are images (substitute words).

With a little practice, it gradually becomes more automatic… maybe similar to translating foreign words into your own language.


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Hi Gary.

Firstly, my apologies for the length of this query, but my requirement is one of those things that seems similar to your Psalms example, until you consider the minutia in detail, then the problems surface.

I watched your Psalms video several times and have carefully studied your posts on this topic. Have even tried setting up my own tables as you did in a post above, but I keep hitting a brick wall as to exactly how to make it work for me with my requirements.

Here are 5 examples of what I have to learn. Each of the following is a sentence or paragraph describing how to locate a particular acupuncture point on the human body, and I have reduced those descriptions pretty much to the bare minimum. It’s not necessary to recall the text of each sentence/paragraph word-for-word, but as I have already trimmed the wording down to the bare essentials it would be preferable, henc my interest in your verbatim method.


HE-1. Centre of axilla on medial side of axillary artery.

HE-2. With Elbow flexed, 3 cun above medial end of transverse cubital crease, in groove medial to biceps.

TW-3. With fist clenched, on dorsum of hand between 4th and 5th metacarpal bones in a depression proximal to 4th metacarpophalangeal joint.

SP-1. 0.1 cun posterior to corner of nail, on medial side of great toe.

KI-27. In depression on lower border of clavicle, 2 cun lateral to midline.

A few explanatory comments:

The HE-1, HE-2, TW-3, SP-1, and KI-4 that begin each of the above are the prime reference points, in that I start with one of those and need to recall the associated description. HE, TW, SP, and KI are abbreviations for Heart, Triple Warmer, Spleen and Kidney respectively, so if for memorisation purposes it would be better to use the full name of the organ/meridian rather than the abbreviation, that’s quite OK too.

The text invariably contains numerals which represent a measurement (0.1 cun, 2 cun, etc) or sometimes a position (1st, 4th, 5th etc). Of course numeric values must always be recalled exactly.

The above is a very small sample – ultimately there will be around 300+ items, all named in exactly the same way with a meridian/organ name and a number, and associated with a sentance or two of text.

Each meridian/organ has between 9 and 67 points, depending on the meridian, so one of the problems I see i that I’ll eventually have 67 instances of BL-n, and 44 instances of GB-n, and 9 in stances of HE-n, and so on. To my untutored eye that looks to be a lot of near-replication, with a huge potential for confusion.

Lets see if I can include the (incomplete) tables that I tried to set up for the above examples. The example tables illustrate some of the problems I can’t see my way past just yet, including:

Problem #1: the information I wish to retain is only useful if every sentence/paragraph starts the same as those examples: a 2-letter prefix followed by a number, which combination designates a specific anatomical point. There are 14 possible combinations of letters (TW, SP, KI above are 3 of the possible 14 combinations). The number following the letters can be anything from 1 to 67. If we call TW-3 the Description in your method, no two descriptions will ever be the same, but there will be many very similar. The worst case example of similarity is points BL-1 to BL-67. Sixty-seven sentences/paragraphs that all start with a “BL” description

Problem #2: Similarity of wording is also a problem with the sentence/paragraph itself. Quite a few start off with the wording “0.1 cun posterior to…”, but after that they are all “posterior to” something different.

I won’t belabor the point further. I’m sure you can see what I’m trying to do and hopefully you may have some suggestions.


Hello Soporose… thank you for your interest in my system.
Let me give your project a little thought and I’ll get back.

Off the top of my heard I might designate a street with buildings for each category. At the entrance of the street I place the object that represents that category.

Example: Category HE (Heart) I see in my minds eye a giant HEART pumping blood all over the place. That means everything on that street belongs to the HE category. So, I don’t have to think about using the HE in 9 different ways.

Just a thought. I’ll get back soon.

Merry Christmas,

Thanks very much for the effort Gary – much appreciated. I very much look forward to what you have to say.

Seasons greetings to you and yours.