5 Tips on Editing Text for Instructional Design
There’s a good chance that text is the bulk of your online learning content. Since the text is the biggest player in most eLearning courses, it’s essential to present it in the best way possible to optimize the instructional design.
Here are 5 Tips to edit and present textual content for your online courses!
1. Line Length
The optimal line length should be around 60 characters for the best reading experience.
Too short, and the reader must constantly scan back and forth quickly, which can be quite frustrating and cause eye strain in bigger chunks of content.
Too long, and you risk losing the reader’s focus as they try to digest a lengthy string of text.
Of course, you don’t have to do a character count on each line, but be aware of this guideline to get a feel for what 60 characters of text actually look like when you preview your content. You can play with margins, text boxes, and design elements to shorten/lengthen this.
Justified blocks of text may look better in some instances but avoid them if the instructional design is your goal. The varied spacing between words increases the difficultly to read, thus increasing the cognitive load it’ll take your learner to digest the content.
The same holds true for paragraphs that are too long. Chunking (dividing the content into manageable sections) makes it much easier for the learner to comprehend your content.
Keep font size between 15 and 18 for most of your body text. This keeps it friendly for older learners and also keeps the line length from getting out of control.
Sans Serif fonts are your best choice for online content – they’re simply easier to read onscreen.
Finally, use only a few different font colors to highlight particularly important content or interface instruction (click on the next button to continue).
Inconsistency in-text taxes your learner’s mind unnecessarily. The brain picks up on these differences and tries to determine why one heading is larger than the other, or why the font size just changed.
Keep all text elements consistent to avoid this. Headings, font styles, font color schemes, the use of bold/italics/underlines – everything should be consistent.
Bonus: while consistency is great for instructional design, it also just looks more professional! Keeping things consistent shows you’ve taken the effort to create something polished.
5. Style Guides
What we’ve just discussed is the reason for style guides!
If you find yourself straying from one style to the next, pick a style guide, define the elements you’re going to use, and stick with them throughout your content. This will help tremendously in keeping your text within those optimized ranges and consistent throughout your entire course or online content.
There are so many variables to consider that L&D professionals invariably hit a brick wall. In my new eBook, I present the top 10 most common eLearning challenges that teams encounter and proven strategies to overcome them!