What is the Method of Loci?

“The method of loci (MOL) is a mnemonic device that relies on spatial relationships between “loci” (e.g., locations on a familiar route or rooms in a familiar building) to arrange and recollect memorial content.” In Latin, Loci means location or place. Now you may ask what is a mnemonic device or what are mnemonics. Well, mnemonics are basic strategies for encoding information with the sole purpose of making it more memorable. 

In simpler terms, the method of Loci works by linking something you need to remember, to a location or place that is familiar to you. 

We often think that we are bad at memorizing and remembering things. We can’t remember faces, we can’t remember names, phone numbers, etc. and we tend to forget what we have studied. This is true for people of different age groups. We envy people who have excellent memory power and imagine they are born geniuses or have some sort of magical skills.

Visualization of Sherlock Holmes' highly active and organized brain, showcasing the intricate neural pathways responsible for his brilliant deductive reasoning and exceptional memory. He is using Loci method.

Take Sherlock Holmes, the brilliant detective, as an example. He effortlessly stores vast information, recalls details, and skillfully deduces solutions to complex mysteries. How does he do that? In BBC’s ‘Sherlock,’ the creators gave him an ancient Greek mnemonic device, aiding him in unraveling the most mysterious cases. That device is called The Mind Palace or the Method of Loci.

Other names used are 

  • Memory Journey
  • Memory Palace
  • Journey Method
  • Memory Spaces
  • or Mind Palace technique.

Step-by-step visual guide to the Loci method, a memory technique. Highlights include selecting locations, associating items with those locations, and enhancing recall through spatial memory.

How to use the Method of Loci?

It might sound like a lot of work but once you grasp the method and follow the steps below, it will be easy to do. 

Part I

1. The very first step is to decide on the mind’s location. That is to think of a place you are very familiar with and that you can recreate easily in your mind. For example, it can be your street or a walk from the bus stand to your house or anything else.

2. Then you have to walk around that familiar area (all in your mind, of course). 

3. All you need along that area are a few set points that you can remember without having to think deliberately about. You already know that there’s always a zebra crossing, a mailbox, a specific shop, a tree, or whatever, just the things that you are very familiar with.

4. Let’s say the first thing you have to remember is to take your silk dress to the dry cleaners and you have to do that the next day so you have to make a bizarre image of that thing.

5. Imagine a glowing beautiful white dress, the glow is so much that you can barely look at it.

6. Now you attach the image of the glowing white dress to the image of the mailbox. Imagine if someone has dressed up the mailbox in that dress.

7. Making this bizarre image in your mind is very important and useful. This helps you to link the two images.

8. Now you can forget about it and you don’t need to think about it until the next day or when you need it.

Part II

9. All you do the next day, or whenever you have to remember it, is just mentally walk down that route again. That is when you think of the mailbox your mind will automatically recall the bizarre image of the glowing white dress, which will then help you remember that you have to take the dress to the dry cleaners.

10. And in a similar pattern, you can go on attaching bizarre, silly images that you don’t forget to the locations or spots you are familiar with.

11. Just remember one thing the bigger your area of locations the better. The image above helps depict the steps we’ve just discussed. 

"Visual metaphor of two puzzle pieces discussing mnemonics and memory, symbolizing the interconnected relationship between mnemonic techniques and memory enhancement."

How is the method of Loci useful for learning?

The Method of Loci is used for memory enhancement; hence you can remember things by using it and also enhance your power of memorization. It is not specific to any age bar, be it an adult or a child anyone can use it. Plus, it is fun and creative and it’s unlikely you will get bored using it.

For this method, a real location is not necessary. In the video game era, memory palaces can be constructed using game maps. These offer a creative and accessible approach to enhancing memory skills. Not only locations or maps but any other images can also be used in this method. You just have to remember this – you need to match permanent or familiar items with the temporary information you want to remember.

This method is very useful for students. Students, burdened with memorization, find ease and reduce stress by employing effective learning techniques for enhanced recall. Along with memorization, it also helps us to comprehend things properly. For example, if a school student is unable to understand a particular text from their book, he can use this method. It will help him comprehend as well as memorize the important things they need from the text.


While it may seem like an extraordinary feat to create a functional mind palace, it is quite achievable with a bit of practice. The next time you have a lot to memorize, try the Method of Loci. If you struggle to recall names or find yourself forgetting tasks, it’s a valuable technique. Who knows, you might become the next real-life Sherlock Holmes.

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