Performance Load Q2 – Chunking technique

When it comes to our working memory, less is more!

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Chunking information refers to the process of breaking down information into smaller for easily digested pieces ( so our brains can handle it efficiently!). Our brains need this extra help because the working memory can only hold limited amounts of information at any given time. (Malamed, n.d)

George A Miller invented the chunking method in 1956, because he realised that the working memory has limited capacity. Because we live in an age where we are bombarded by visual stimulation and information all day long, how could we possibly retain it all? By grouping this information into non random categories we could understand all of the information by better. Long strings of information is much harder to comprehend and remember than small chunks of information fed to us. As stated by Lidwell, Holden and Butler, “chunking seeks to accommodate short-term memory limits by formatting information into a small number of units” (Universal Principles of Design, 2003)

For example with regards to design and visual communication, if you were to give a presentation, the audience is more likely to pay attention and hopefully remember the information if it is presented in such a way that there are small chunks of information rather than long paragraphs and boring layout. This makes sense, who would be bothered to read all of that! If it looks hard and boring to read, you can almost be sure that most of the audience will not bother reading it or taking it in if they do. A presentation power point is far more attractive if there are nicely designed bullet points of small amounts of information, its short, sharp and to the point, exactly what our brains like to read! Simplicity goes a long way with visual communication.


Chunking Principle | Style Guide | Technical Writing | Software Engineering. (2016) Retrieved 19 May 2016, from

Lidwell, Holden, & Butler,. (2003). Aesthetic Usability effect.

Malamed, C. (2009). Chunking Information for Instructional Design. Retrieved 19 May 2016, from