Learn the Major System for Remembering Numbers

Learn the Major System and never again forget a phone number. Get good at remembering numbers by learning this simple phonetic system.

Learn the Major System and never again forget a phone number. Get good at remembering numbers by learning this simple phonetic system..

While there are many Memory Systems in current use, each one utilising a slightly different method to turn numbers into images that are more easily remembered, the Major System is the original upon which all others are based.

The Major System

This system, first described by Amie Paris in 1825 and later popularized by Harry Lorraine, works by turning numbers into consonant sounds, adding vowels and creating memorable words.

The system begins by assigning consonant sounds to the numbers 0-9:

0 = S or Z

1 = T or D

2 = N

3 = M

4 = R

5 = L

6 = J, ch, sh, soft g

7 = K, hard c or hard g

8 = F or V

9 = P or B

Using the logic of this system you can turn any number into an image. For example, the number 64 can be turned into the image of a JaR. 6 = J and 4 =R. Or it can be turned into the image of a ChaiR 6 = CH and 4 =R.

Larger numbers are just as easy to turn into images. 741 for example represents, hard c, r and d. By adding a couple of vowels, we can turn this number into the image of a CaRD.

The system is simple to use. But learning and memorising a shape image for each number does take time and effort.

You can with practice learn a number shape for numbers up to a thousand and with even more effort beyond. Although in practice it’s not efficient to go beyond 1000.

Link Images Using the Method of Loci

Once you have images memorised for each number it’s a simple task to remember any long number, whether it be a phone number, bank account or serial number.

For example, take this randomly generated 11-digit number; 73686736762.

We can break this number down into the following 736 – 867 – 367 – 62.

736 = GaMe SHow

867 = FiSHinG

367 = MaGiC

62 = CHaiN

Now instead of 11 random numbers we have 4 images.

All it takes to remember this number is to create a memorable journey along one of your pre-prepared Journey Paths. (Method of Loci)

Imagine you are on a GaMe SHow. The object of show is to catch as many fish as possible. Place this image on the first stop of your journey.

You are given a tiny FiSHing rod. Place this image on the second stop of your journey.

On the third stop of your journey you discover one of the other contestants is dressed like a magician and is using MaGiC to catch hundreds of fish.

When you reach the fourth stop on your journey, you realise that your fishing line has turned into a CHaiN.

With four powerful images you have turned a random number into something easily remembered.


The key is to learn the phonetic for each number 0-9. Once you have this learned by heart, you will be able to take any three-digit number and turn it into an image.

Break down longer numbers into three-digit chunks, then take those chunks and create memorable images for each one, the more vivid and impactful, the easier it will be to remember.

The Major System is an elegant method for remembering long strings of unrelated numbers. It does take effort to learn initially but given enough effort you’ll be able to turn numbers into images on the fly and then convert those images back into numbers when you need to.