Most people don’t know the alphabet as well as they think they do. Few people know the numerical positions of the letters. Not that it’s of great importance, but it is interesting that people use these twenty-six letters all their lives and still don’t know, instantly, the numerical position of, say, P or K, or M.

We’re going to show you how to picture letters. But first, here’s a quick way of learning the numerical positions of all the letters. It’s not just an exercise—knowing them can be important if you need an extra Peg list of words, or pictures. Once you know the numerical positions and can picture each letter, you’ll automatically have a twenty-six-word Peg list.

We’re assuming that you know the basic Peg Words from 1 to 26. Now, you need the “adjective” idea. Make up a phrase that consists of two words—the first word is an adjective that begins with the letter whose position you want to know; the second is the Peg Word that tells you that position.

Beginning Memory Training

Look at these phrases:

Awful tie
Brave Noah
Cute Ma
Delicious rye

Each phrase gives you the two things you need, the letter and its position. “Delicious rye” tells you that the letter D (first letter of delicious) is the fourth letter (rye) of the alphabet. You’re better off making up your own adjectives, because the ones you think of will be easier for you to remember. Here are just a few suggestions: jagged toes, kind tot, plastic dish, vivacious nun, X-rayed Nero, zigzag notch.

When you’ve made up all the phrases, go over them once or twice. Here, it isn’t necessary to form a ridiculous association—the logical aspect of the phrase will be a memory aid. Before long, if you think P, the phrase “plastic dish” will come to mind and you’ll know that P is the 16th letter of the alphabet. And before much longer, you won’t need the phrase—you’ll simply know the numerical positions.

memory improvement secrets

That’s all there is to it!

Now. To visualize each letter of the alphabet—to make each letter tangible and meaningful in your mind—make up a word that sounds like the letter. This is an off shoot of the Substitute Word system. The letter A, for instance, cannot be pictured, but you can picture an ape. And saying the letter A out loud almost has to remind you of ape, because ape sounds like A. You can make up your own Alphabet Words, or you can use the list that follows.

1. A—ape
2. B—bean
3. C—sea
4. D—dean
5. E—eel
6. F—half, or effort
7. G—jeans, or gee
8. H—ache, age, or itch
9. I—eye
10. J—jay (bird)
11. K—cake, or cane
12. L—el (elevated train), elf
13. M—ham, hem, or emperor
14. N—hen, or end
15. O—eau (water), or old
16. P—pea
17. Q—cue (stick)
18. R—hour (clock), or art
19. S—ess curve, or ass
20. T—tea
21. U—ewe
22. V—veal
23. W—Waterloo (Napoleon)
24. X—eggs, exit, or X ray
25. Y—wine
26. Z—zebra

We used bean for B only because you already know bee as the basic Peg Word for number 9.

Being able to picture any letter is important if you ever have to memorize anything that contains letters—formulas and equations, style numbers, stock symbols, whatever. Now, if for some reason you wanted to remember a license number, say, 146A 29C 4L, you could Link torch to ape, ape to knob, knob to sea, sea to rye, and rye to elevated train.

If you know the numerical position of every letter and the alphabet word, you also have that twenty-six-word Peg List we mentioned. If you know that N is the 14th letter, anything associated to hen is the 14th item. Anything associated to pea is the 16th item, anything associated to ess curve is the 19th item, and so on.

Now you can memorize two lists of items—by number, and in and out of order—at the same time. Use the basic Peg Words for one list and the Alphabet Words for the other.

memory improvement and training

The fact that each letter can be pictured can be useful to you in many areas. If you’re one of the many people who have trouble spelling the word insurance because you’re never sure whether it’s ance or -ence, picture an ape selling insurance and you’ll always remember that insurance is spelled with an a. The word audible is spelled with an i (it’s not “audable”). Form a silly picture of your eye making sounds—it’s audible—to remind you of the i. The word grammar is often misspelled “grammer.” Picture an ape speaking with perfect grammar, and you’ll remember that a.

There are other ways to handle letters. For example, if all the style numbers of any company’s products consist of a letter followed by digits, then a word that begins with the letter solves the memory problem. For A41, use arid; for B12, button; for C915, capital; for R92, robin; and so on. Each word would then be associated, of course, to the product it represents.

Finally, a non-earthshaking piece of information: If you form a Link from zebra to wine to eggs to Waterloo, all the way to ape, you’ll be able to recite the alphabet backward!