We’ve all seen it: The training material that is a jumbled mess of mismatched graphics, hard-to-read text and no sense of cohesion whatsoever. What good is the content if the learner needs a decoder ring to decipher it? Therefore, I offer up my Top 11 List of Style. Why eleven? Because eleven is the new ten (actually, I just couldn’t narrow it down). None of these topics are new, but rather a collection of style principles I adhere to when developing materials.
- Font style – Pick two fonts, one for your body text and one for your headers.
- Font size – Keep it standard, not too big, not too small.
- Graphics – Exercise prudence. Don’t mix and match (i.e. don’t use a clipart cartoon in one spot and a photograph in another).
- Colors – Generally, stick with dark font colors against a light background.
- White space – Embrace space. Make it your friend. Not everything needs to be covered with text or pictures.
- Text blocks – Avoid large chunks of text. Use bullet points to break the text into more visual-friendly parts.
- Alignment – Pick an alignment and stick with it. Use center align sparingly.
- Branding – Put your company and/or department logo on the material.
- Consistency – Strive for a consistent look and feel throughout the material.
- Template – If there is a chance of reusing the material again for another project, put all of your style options in a blank template.
- Style sheet – Create a style sheet for others who may be helping develop the material, or for future reference/reuse.
For a more in-depth explanation of many of these principles, see Robin Williams’ The Non-Designer’s Design Book.
Guest blogger: David Lindenberg is a practicing instructional designer at Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare in Memphis, Tennessee. He is a graduate of the Instructional Design & Technology program at The University of Memphis.