An e-learning course has many important elements, such as text, imagery, audio, and navigation. But the text is almost always what conveys the bulk of the information to your learners. Graphics, videos, and audio are usually extras to help drive a point home.

There are a lot of different ways we use text in e-learning, from navigation items such as buttons, hyperlinks, and menus to introducing, conveying, and supporting the actual course content. For the latter, sharp writing skills are key. Here are three simple tips that will help you write course text that’s clear and compelling for learners.

Cut Out the Clutter

When you take your first stab at writing content, it’s bound to be imperfect. That’s why you should ruthlessly edit everything you write. Get rid of any verbiage that is redundant or repetitive. Scrutinize every word, asking yourself: Does that word really need to be here? Can I still get my message across without it? Get rid of “Valley Girl” modifiers; “very,” “really,” and “totally” don’t add much meaning to any sentence.

An important aspect of e-learning design is sharing information in a way that is clear, concise, and easy to understand. Make sure your writing supports that! If you can explain something in eight words instead of twenty, do it.

Grammar, Spelling, and Punctuation Are Key

If you make mistakes in grammar, spelling, or punctuation, your course will look sloppy and unprofessional, and the meaning of your words could be altered. Review your text with these specific items in mind, and make sure your grammar and punctuation are consistent throughout.

Other important things to consider:

  • Use an active voice (where your subject performs the action) rather than a passive voice (where your subject receives the action).
  • Align verb tenses so they agree.
  • Review homophones (such as you’re, your, their, they’re, there, it’s, its, etc.) so they make the correct references.
  • Capitalize proper nouns only.
  • Watch commas.

Get a Second—Even a Third—Set of Eyes

One of the most important things with writing is to persuade someone else to review it. Why? As the writer, you’re too close to the content to be able to spot potential mistakes or errors that someone else might see.

Choose someone with strong language and writing skills. They should keep an eye out for spelling mistakes, grammar errors, and anything that isn’t clear or doesn’t make sense to them. From there, you should take this feedback to heart and make all the edits. A majority of the time, you’ll end up with a better end product when you consider another person’s fresh perspective.

These are just three simple steps you should follow to make sure your next e-learning course has the best text content possible. Do you have your own writing and editing tips to share? If you do, please leave a comment below.

You can always sign up for a fully functional, free trial of Articulate software. 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.

C. Arthrob
Eric Schaffer
Chris Roetzer