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Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Digital design for learning – Part II layout formatting

The first part of designing for education talked about formatting text for optimum retention.  The second part of the series discusses layout formatting.  As important as it is to highlight specific information in the text it is also important to format the layout so all is easier to read.

Chunk out information
Divide content into small chunks of information.  If you think about it larger bits are more overwhelming to look at, where as a smaller chunk can give a learner quick success in conquering the data.  That might mean more paragraphs and even more pages to a document.  Cramming everything into one page is not going to call attention to the content, reading will turn into skimming and your important information is not going to be retained.

White space
Break out topics and paragraphs with plenty of whitespace.  Spacing everything out generously will create a visual that is easier to digest.  The eye will travel smoothly from one topic to the next.

Justify text to the left since we typically read left to right this will ensure important elements will get read in the order it is intended. Full justification is ok to do, however in viewing on a screen the gaps can’t be controlled as they could be in print.  Breaking the rhythm of the text can break the focus of learning the content.

Bullets & Numbering
For specific direction steps to any learning aid it is important to number each step.  Bullet points serve as a great way to organize additional points to a topic.  Whichever you choose they break apart the copy even further making it easier to read.

Just a few layout elements can make a difference in the success of a layout for learning.  Small Chunks of info, White Space, Justification, and numbering or bullets could separate content elements enough to make the training easier to absorb and retain.

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