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The Linking Method


Techniques > Memory methods > The Linking Method

Usage | Description | Example | Discussion | See also



Use this method for remembering lists of items. These can be relatively unrelated items, such as a shopping list, or a connected set, such as the key points of a business presentation.


The idea is to create memorable links between pairs of items such that when you think of one item, the next immediately springs to mind.

For each pair of words, starting with the first pair, associate them together, such that the first word is the cue and the second word is the item which is remembered when the cue is triggered.

Repeat this for each pair of items. Thus if you have a list A, B, C, then you must link A with B, B with C and C with D.

Also remember to link the first item to something that automatically cues the sequence when you need it.

The images between successive pairs need not be the same or related. Thus the image you use for linking B and C need not follow on from A and B. All you need is that when B is identified you will know the next linkage.


I am going to the shop and want to buy some soap powder, honey and lettuce.

I start by linking the soap powder the shop by imagining walking toward the shop and being met with a wall of foam and people running away wearing very clean-smelling clothes.

The soap powder is then linked to the honey by imagining cartoon bees flying out of the bubbly mess, hiccupping and looking rather annoyed.

Finally, the lettuce is linked to the bees by having them land on a row of lettuce, scaring off some rabbits (more lettuce association) and getting more annoyed when they can't find the pollen.


This is a simple method for remembering a list of items. A potential problem is that, if you get stuck at any point, then the rest of the chain may be unavailable to you. One way of addressing this is to make the chain a bi-directional circle. If you are remembering A, B and C, then by linking C and A, if you forget the link between B and C, you may be able to go in the reverse direction, via A to C.

See also

Association principle

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