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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Digital design for learning – Part I text formatting

Whether you are an educator, doing layouts for corporate training or just giving someone directions there are ways to format text and layout to actually get better retention of the materials. In this two part series I am going to go over some tips for getting the best results with your education design.

We are going to discuss text formatting and layout ideas for education. You can apply these ideas to any form of educating because the rules don’t change based on end use.

Using common design elements like bold, underline, and colors can make important elements stand out more. Vital elements might be included in a paragraph of explanation text, highlighting will distinguish these elements while keeping them in the right context to explore further.

In addition to standing out this important text is more visible for important directions. Let’s look at an example from my book “Your New Business Logo”. Since this was a crash course in Adobe Illustrator tools for beginners I wanted specific terms found in the program to jump out.

This example in Chapter 2 showing how to open a new file highlights the actual terms found in the program:

"Click on File located on the left, then click New from the drop down menu. The New Document box will open, just click on OK and we will run with the default settings. "
Notice File, New and OK are bold with a color. If you followed along in the program you would see these are what you need to look for in the program. Yet none of these words would make sense taken out of the sentences they are in so the text highlights are making the vital direction more visable.

Other ideas to enhance text could be using CAPS and altering text sizes. I tend to apply CAPS to chapter titles and even topic headings. Any information that is a mandatory need for the success of the training could be made larger, signaling vital exposure.

You may choose how you highlight content whether it is underline, bold, colors, CAPS and size based on the amount and type of content you are formatting. You can mix and match techniques as needed. The only caution I add is apply it consistently throughout your learning piece so the user can quickly master the format and focus on learning.

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