How to Remember Numbers with a Memory Palace

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This page contains information on how to remember numbers with a memory palace.

Step 1: Create an Image for Each Number

Mnemonic Images created with the Major System

The first step to remembering numbers is to create a memorable image for each number. There are many systems for converting numbers to images. If you have never memorized numbers before, please start with the Introduction to Mnemonic Number Systems.

The most popular number memorization system is called the Major System. You can see a quick example on the How to Memorize Pi page.

If you have limited time and want to give it a try before creating a full set of 100 Major System images, try the 10-image Number Shape System. The Number Shape System is probably too simple to memorize long numbers, but it's good for short numbers.

Step 2: Create a Memory Palace

Tip: see the How to Build a Memory Palace page for detailed instructions.

A memory palace (also known as a Mind Palace or Memory Journey) is an imaginary place in your mind where you store images. The images represent numbers or other data. By walking through the imaginary location and converting the images back into numbers, you can recall very long numbers in order.

To create a memory palace, choose any place you know well -- even your current location will probably work -- and link 10 arbitrary points (locations) together into a journey. See the image below for an example.

The picture below shows an example memory palace created in the home village of Simonides of Ceos, who invented the Method of Loci, according to Roman legend. Each location in the memory palace holds one or more Mnemonic Images that each represent numbers or other facts.

A memory palace example in the village where Simonides of Ceos was born

Step 3: Place One Image in Each Memory Palace Location

Here's a short example with the simplest possible system: if you're using the Number Shape System, and you want to memorize the number 3.1415, create a mnemonic image for each number:

  • 3 -- a butterfly
  • 1 -- a candle
  • 4 -- a sailboat
  • 1 -- a candle
  • 5 -- a hook

Then place the images in your memory palace, making the images as vivid as possible:

  1. In the first location of your memory palace, picture a butterfly.
  2. In the second location of your memory palace, picture a candle.
  3. In the third location of your memory palace, picture a sailboat.
  4. In the fourth location of your memory palace, picture a candle.
  5. In the fifth location of your memory palace, picture a hook.

To recall the images, close your eyes and walk through your memory palace in order. You should see a butterfly in the first place. Convert the butterfly back to the digit 3. Then walk to the second location in your memory palace, where you should see a candle. Convert the candle back into the digit 1. And so on.

The Number Shape System is too simple to use for long numbers, but for longer numbers you can use the Major System, the Dominic System, or the Ben System.

More Resources

For further information, please be sure to read these pages:

You can ask questions in the Art of Memory Forum!