An e-learning style guide is a great way to make sure your projects have a consistent look and feel. It allows you to identify best practices and set standards for how your organization develops courses. While some people might think a style guide limits creative freedom, there are many good reasons to put one in place. An e-learning style guide:

  • ensures a polished and professional output
  • serves as a quick reference tool
  • saves time—meaning less time wasted reviewing and editing design choices
  • expands on a company’s general brand guide, which often doesn’t take e-learning needs into consideration 

A style guide is especially helpful for organizations with multiple e-learning developers because it ensures consistency across projects. Ready to create an e-learning style guide, but not sure what exactly to include to make it useful? Below are a few must-haves you’ll want to consider.

Logos

The logo is an essential visual piece of any brand. Your style guide should explain where and when to use the logo. You might also outline the acceptable size, placement, and color variations for the logo, as well as examples of correct and incorrect use.

Fonts

Most organizations have a few fonts they prefer to use that have already been approved or reflect their corporate personality. Your style guide should outline which fonts to use, what size they should be, and when to use them. For example, you might use a bold 44 pt heading font for lesson titles and a regular 28 pt font for the body text on your slides.

Tone or Voice

Every company has a unique way of conveying their brand message to their audience. Whether that’s direct and serious or fun and playful, their tone or voice should come through in the course text. Study their website or other company materials to help you define how they communicate. Then share a few example paragraphs or specific copy that mirror a similar tone in your style guide.

Writing Tips

This could include rules for how to name courses, modules, lessons, assessments, activities, etc. You might also want to specify how to capitalize and punctuate lists and whether to use numbers as numerals or spelled out in full.

Colors

How a color appears may vary from one monitor to the next, so it’s important to provide actual hex values for your color palette. Specify whether your company allows various tints or shades of the colors and where specific colors are required.

Visual Elements 

Images or illustrations can be a huge reflection of a brand. Consider including guidelines about the format, size, and types of graphics designers should use. Provide example images or illustrations that reflect the company’s brand. 

Buttons

If the company has a standard look for buttons, include it in the style guide, along with tips on when to use each button. 

Templates

Templates are a great way to speed up workflow. If you’ve created any templates—such as layouts, interactions, or quizzes—let people know where to find them in your style guide. If you want the courses to look on-brand regardless of content, create a player template that contains the company logo, custom colors, and specific menu settings that should be consistently applied. 

Audio Narration

If your courses use audio narration, consider addressing that in your style guide. Include things like when to use narration, if a particular intro or outro is used, or if your courses use a specific person for narration versus text-to-speech. 

Quizzes & Feedback

Quizzes are often part of courses, whether they’re brief knowledge checks at the end of a section or a final quiz at the end of the course. Your style guide should tell your developers when to use quizzes, whether there is a maximum number of quiz attempts allowed, and whether there’s a standard minimum passing score. It should also include information on how feedback is provided, or whether it’s provided at all. 

Miscellaneous

Depending on your organization and your projects, you might include other items in your style guide—for example, tips for navigation flow or instructions for naming variables. Consider adding anything to the style guide that’s displayed or used across multiple courses.

Additional Tips

Remember, an e-learning style guide is a great way to give your projects a consistent look and feel. Here are a few more things to keep in mind. 

  • Don’t be too strict. Remember to allow some flexibility for creativity and originality.
  • Show examples of what to do and what not to do. Examples are always helpful!
  • Consider using your course creation apps to train your team on the finished style guide.

Resources

Looking for other resources to help you build your e-learning style guide? Check out these articles:

What do you like to include in your e-learning style guides? Please share your ideas in a comment below.

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13 Comments
Jonas Klingström

Thank you for a very helpful post! I think another important point is not to go all in with the corporate brand in guidelines like these. Guidelines for marketing (or worse, ppts) are inadequate for interactive learning, they're simply not designed with learning in mind, but rather marketing which is a completely different beast. I would put this additional tip at the top: "- Don’t be too strict. Remember to leave a bit of wiggle room for creativity and originality." Emotion is a huge part of learning, and the interface of a course is one of the most important aspects of creating the mood of a course. Messing about with guidelines that are too strict really is really getting ahead of the interface design of the learning material. For example positive emotional states have been s... Expand

Mark McCreesh

Hi not as yet No! Mark McCreesh eLearning Advisor The Learning Academy - Darlington Student Loans Company (: Ext: 45521 The Learning Academy - Darlington 8 : Intranet Site *: Darlington Inbox (: 0141 243 2002 ******************************************************************************************************* The information from the Student Loans Company Ltd contained in this e-mail is private and privileged. If you have received this e-mail in error be advised that any use is strictly prohibited. Please notify us and delete the message from your computer. You may not copy or forward it or use or disclose its contents to any other person. As internet communications are capable of data corruption it may be inappropriate to rely on advice or opinions contained in an e-mail without ob... Expand

Amber Gab

Here is one that I liked to read to get an idea of how style guides were written. https://www.google.com/design/spec/style/writing.html#writing-language Here are some that I liked just to get an idea of what should be included. http://theelearningcoach.com/media/graphics/visual-style-guide-for-elearning/ http://info.shiftelearning.com/blog/bid/286472/Creating-a-Visual-Style-Guide-for-eLearning-What-Should-You-Include These were helpful for me. It worked best for me to start working on my eLearning files and then decide what looked best. From there I built my style guide. If I didnt' have information for a certain piece like what images to use - I ended up making a section header and then I put a note that information would be put in here at one point. I started with my style g... Expand