3 Ways to Effectively Use Space in E-Learning Layouts Posted Thursday, April 24, 2014 at 6:00 AM

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Space is an extremely important element of an e-learning design layout, yet it is often underrated or ignored—to the detriment of your final design. But applying the proper spacing principles to an amateur-looking layout can transform it, giving it a polished and professional finish. Let’s have a look at three ways you can apply simple aspects of graphic design related to spacing to improve your e-learning layouts.


Use White Space Appropriately

White space (or negative space) is the spacing between different elements on your slides. White space contains nothing, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be white. Some graphic design best practices recommend that up to 50% of a design consist of white space. You can easily apply this principle to e-learning slide design as well. Using a heavy amount of white space avoids clutter and gives the items on your slide “breathing room.”

Apply the Principle of Balance

Humans have an innate sense of balance. When we see things that are balanced and orderly, we feel comfortable and relaxed. To achieve balance in your e-learning designs, you should evenly distribute visual weight in your layout. Two simple ways to achieve visual balance are to use equal spacing around all your objects, and to use consistent spacing on your slide.

Understand Symmetry

To create balance, one must apply symmetry to the design. Symmetrical composition means it is made up of similar parts facing each other or around an axis. However, it doesn’t need to be an exact duplication one side to the next, so no need to go overboard. For example, you can balance a paragraph of text with an image of about the same size, as shown below. Which design do you find more aesthetically pleasing?img1.png

The first design looks a bit cluttered and uneven. Everything is squished at the top, which means there’s no balance. There’s also unequal spacing around the text box and the image, which indicates a lack of symmetry. And finally, the slide does have about 50% white space, but it’s not used efficiently, as it’s all in one big area at the bottom of the slide.

When we move our items to the center of our slide, and add the correct amount of white space all around, we can really clean up our slide and make it easier on the eyes. Amazing how the empty space on your slide has a huge impact on the final look!

Got any tips of your own regarding white space, balance, or symmetry in e-learning design? If you do, please leave me a comment below!



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5 comments so far

Brett Rockwood

540 posts

Posted Thursday, April 24, 2014 at 6:25 PM

Couldn't agree more that these are key design considerations. I always point people to the great Robin Williams (not the comedian) design books and in particular the Non-Designer's Design Book. You'll learn a whole new meaning of CRAP that should serve you well. (And I have no connection to Robin and her books; I just think she does a great job of making a complex subject approachable.)

User Rank Nicole Legault

741 posts

Posted Monday, April 28, 2014 at 5:17 AM

Thanks for the great tip and feedback, Brett!

John Wagner

19 posts

Posted Tuesday, April 29, 2014 at 2:53 PM

I agree with your post. I learned the same lesson in the design of newsletters many years ago. The difference between newsletters people read and those they just throw away is what is pleasing to the eye. Graphic design principles are the same whether they are in print of online courses.

Angela O'Brien

28 posts

Posted Tuesday, April 29, 2014 at 4:37 PM

Yes, I'm a big fan of white space! Our learners love the clean design.

Dr. Mo

4 posts

Posted Friday, May 09, 2014 at 6:51 PM

I like balance, divide a screen in halves, use multiple elements to create a sublime balance, could be ovals, blocks, rectangles, triangles, just make sure the bases make a visual connection, real or imaginary