In the forums, it sometimes seems like everyone wants to share the cool, off-the-beaten-path things they’ve discovered working in Articulate Storyline. And there is practically an limitless supply of nifty things people have done to create interesting, interactive e-learning. But there are also times when it’s important to get back in touch with the basics, the foundational pieces that help make your everyday work faster, smoother, and more efficient. That’s what today’s post is all about—not the bells and whistles, but the engine and gears that make your e-learning projects run nicely. Here are my 10 favorite time-saving tips for Storyline:
1. Copy & Paste
Copy and paste just may be the all-time world’s greatest time-saver, and especially so in Storyline. Of course, you can copy all the usual stuff such as text, shapes, and images. But in Storyline you can copy and paste slides, triggers, and layers too. Awesome, right?
To add even more zip, you can skip the menus and use the keyboard shortcuts to save even more time. CTRL + C to copy and CTRL + V to paste. Or even better, try out CTRL + D to duplicate items in a single step!
2. Format Painter
Sometimes, to get things just right in your courses, you have to apply a combination of several different effects to text, images, shapes, captions, buttons, and characters. Manually replicating the same set of effects for multiple objects is a slow and tedious process. Fortunately, Storyline’s Format Painter tool lets you skip that repetitive grunt work and apply effects from one item to another in just a couple of clicks.
The Format Painter tool works with text boxes, shapes, buttons, captions, characters, and even for quickly replicating object states.
To apply the same formatting to multiple objects, select the object with the formatting you want to copy. Double-click the Format Painter button, and then select the objects you want to “paint” with that same formatting. When you’re finished, press the ESC key.
3. Keyboard Shortcuts
I’m a huge fan of keyboard shortcuts. The fewer times I have to leave the keyboard and jump to the mouse the better. Fortunately, Storyline has a lot of great time-saving shortcuts. From working with text to previewing and publishing, there is something for everyone. Grab this printable collection of Storyline shortcuts to learn new ways you can save time. (Keep on reading for a special bonus about even more keyboard shortcuts in tip #4.)
4. Create Your Own Custom E-learning Toolbar
Sometimes the buttons available on the ribbon change based on what you’re doing. Other times, buttons can be buried in sub-menus. If you’d like to have all your favorite buttons always close at hand, you can make your own personalized toolbar by customizing the Quick Access Toolbar (QAT). Everything you add to your QAT also gets a custom keyboard shortcut, which is a real help. Learn more in this post.
5. Import Slides to Leverage Existing Content
Another big time-saver is to reuse content you already have. Storyline makes it easy to get a head start on your e-learning projects because you can easily import existing slides, quiz questions, scenario interactions, and more from existing Storyline projects. You can even pull in existing content from your Studio and PowerPoint projects, including synced animations, slide masters, and more. With Storyline 2 you can even get a head start on your assessments by importing existing quiz questions from Excel spreadsheets and text files.
6. Use the Translation Function to Make Global Text Updates
The translation feature is already a huge time-saver to switch from one language to another. But did you know you can also use it to make quick work of course-wide text updating tasks? Simply export the text from your Storyline project to a Word document, and then you can easily use Microsoft Word to globally change fonts, do powerful find-and-replace operations, and more. When you’re done, just import the document back into Storyline and all your updates will appear across your entire Storyline project.
7. Use Cue Points to Sync Audio
If you aren’t already familiar, cue points are markers you can add at certain points on the timeline. They are super useful for syncing multiple objects, animations, and audio. My favorite time-savers for cue points are keyboard shortcuts that let me pause and restart the audio while previewing it (spacebar) and add a cue point at the current playhead location (C). Check out the video below to get the scoop on using cue points.
8. Use the Playhead to Insert Objects at Particular Points on the Timeline
When you add an object to a slide, it appears on the timeline at the current location of the playhead. To turn this into yet another time-saver, simply position the playhead at the point you want the object to start before you insert it, and then you won’t have to manually adjust timing afterward.
9. Use the Timeline to Select & Reorder Layered Objects
When you're working with slides that have a lot of objects, sometimes it’s a challenge to select the right one or to put them in the right order. I’ve seen people do all kinds of convoluted things such as temporarily hiding or moving the objects that are in front of the ones they’re trying to select.
In this situation, the very best way to access anything layered behind other objects is to simply select it from the timeline. When you select an object on the timeline, it is also selected on the slide, even if it sits behind something else. Once selected, you can do whatever you want to it without touching anything sitting above it.
The order of the objects on the timeline correspond to the stacking order of the objects on the slide.So, if you ever need to bring an item that’s buried beneath several other objects on the screen up to the top layer, you can just drag it to the top position on the timeline. Just like that, it’s now on the top layer on-screen as well!
10. Swap Pictures & Keep the Formatting
Have you ever had to replace an image after spending time formatting it perfectly with the right size, position, formatting, timing, animation, etc.? Instead of deleting it and starting all over again, save time by using the Change Picture… tool to update the image while retaining all of the existing formatting that was on the original.
Just select the photo you want to change and use the Change Picture... button to replace it with another photo. Your new image will retain all the existing formatting that you previously applied.
What are your favorite time-saving Storyline tips? Leave a comment or add your two cents’ worth to this community discussion.
If you want to try this yourself but don't have Storyline, no problem. Just sign up for a fully functional, free 30-day trial. And don't forget to post your questions and comments in the forums! We're here to help. For more e-learning tips, examples, and downloads, follow us on Twitter.