10 Storyline Secrets You Need to Know

Articulate Storyline is a powerful e-learning authoring tool, packed full of brilliant features. But Storyline has a ton of super-smart, below-the-radar shortcuts up its sleeve. Here, I’ve picked my ten favorite hidden features, tips, and tricks to help you work smarter and faster.

1. The Lorem Ipsum / Random Text Shortcut

Next time you’re throwing together a quick prototype, don’t worry about cutting and pasting lorem ipsum or placeholder text into your project screens. Save time by using this nifty little Windows shortcut:

  1. Insert a text box on your slide.
  2. Type =Lorem()
  3. Hit Enter.

Boom! Instant filler text. Here’s a super-quick video (no audio) to demonstrate these steps.


Pro Tip: Using the =Lorem command auto-generates lorem ipsum text. Following the same steps but typing the =Rand command generates standard “the quick brown fox …” filler text.

2. Add Animation to an Object's State

Object states aren’t exactly a big secret, but many folks are surprised when I tell them that they can easily add animation effects to an object’s state. In fact, using animation on an object’s state is one of my favorite ways to add emphasis. For example, I like to add a little checkmark that wipes or fades in on topic buttons when the learner completes all of the activities within that topic. This gives learners a nice, clear visual that they’ve completed this part of my course.

Adding animation to an object’s state is easy. Here’s how:

  1. Select the object state to which you want to add animation.
  2. Apply animations to your object from the “Animate” menu.
  3. Click “Done” and preview your slide or scene to see how the effect is working.

And here’s a super-quick video (no audio) to demonstrate these steps, too.

 3. Add Cinematic Flair 

Want your course to be a little more dramatic? Well then you’ll love how easily you can add some cinematic flair to your screens just by placing a few zoom regions over your onscreen images. The basic formula is as follows:

  • Zoom Out: Place a zoom region at the beginning of the timeline so the opening shot is a close-up that zooms out to reveal the bigger picture.
  • Zoom In: Insert a zoom region and drag it to the point on your timeline when you want the zoom effect to appear.
  • Pan and Zoom: Insert multiple zoom regions next to each other on the timeline. This creates a panning effect that seamlessly shifts from one area of focus to the next.

Here’s a video to walk you through these steps.

And to learn more about how to use Storyline’s zoom regions, check out this detailed article and example.

4. Press "C" On Your Keyboard to Add a Cue Point to the Timeline

Use a lot of audio in your courses? If so, you’re probably familiar with how to drag objects on your timeline to sync up with your audio. But did you know there’s an even easier way? Here’s how:

  1. While playing the audio, hit the C key on your keyboard to add a numbered cue point to the timeline.
  2. Right-click and select “Align to Cue Point” or manually slide objects on the timeline to align them to the cue points. 

Here’s a short and sweet video of these steps.


 For a step-by-step tutorial and practice with cue points, check out Syncing Animations with Audio in Storyline 2.

5. Create a Seamless Scrolling Effect

Ever see a website or use an app where the screens just seamlessly transition from one to the next? Ever wonder how you could create a similar effect in one of your Storyline projects?

I’ve got good news! Nicole Legault spilled the beans on this Storyline secret with this free template download, Storyline 2: Seamless Scrolling Effect.

The secret to this technique lies in lining up your shapes in Storyline and then using push transitions (under the transitions menu) to make it all come to life.

See a quick version of how it’s done, below.

 

6. Add Video to Markers

When you think about using video in e-learning, you probably think of it as a primary screen element. But sometimes videos aren’t the real star of the show, although they may still offer some nice-to-know info or context for learners.

For instance, new product training often uses sleekly produced marketing videos to demonstrate products in use, but those videos don’t always offer much in the way of instructional value on their own. So how can you include such video in a way that makes sense and doesn’t clutter up your course? Add it to a marker! Here’s how:

  1. With the marker selected, go to the format tab on the ribbon and click “Media.”
  2. Choose from one of the video options, either: video from file, video from website, or record webcam.

To see how this is done, don’t miss this quick video.

And for more creative ideas for using markers in Storyline, don’t miss this helpful article.

7. Scale the Course Player to Fill the Browser Window

Setting aside mobile devices, there’s a lot of variation in screen sizes for desktop monitors these days. Storyline gives you the ability to control the response of the course player when it’s launched on various browser screens by choosing the “Scale player to fill browser window” option in the Player Properties menu. Selecting this option allows your course to fill the web browser window while maintaining its original aspect ratio. This means your course can be scaled up or down from its optimal size.

Check out this recent Storyline download to see how this option looks and feels. And here’s how it’s done:

  1. Under the Player Properties menu, click on “Other.”
  2. Use the player size drop-down menu to select “scale player to fill browser window.”

When you view your published output, you’ll be able to see how this change was applied to your project. Keep in mind that there is no one perfect solution for this challenge. And while this type of scaling can help you avoid having your course cut off on smaller screens, the trade-off may be a loss of clarity on larger monitors.

You can watch the above steps in action in this quick video. 

8. Add a Lightbox to the Course Player

One of my favorite things about Storyline is how much you can customize the course player (more on that in a moment). And one of my favorite hidden gems is the ability to add a custom tab to the course player and then trigger that tab to launch a slide or slides in a lightbox.

This trick is super-handy for making ancillary course resources, navigation help, or other tips and instructions available to learners right on the course player, while freeing up valuable screen real estate for critical content. Here’s how to set it up:

  1. Go to the features tab in the player properties window.
  2. Add a new custom tab to the top-bar right, which displays an existing slide as a lightbox when the user clicks it.

And here’s a video to demo these steps.

9. Make the Course Player Invisible

As I mentioned, Storyline’s course player gives you a lot of flexibility to customize features, but did you know that you can effectively turn the course player off altogether? Here’s a very quick overview:

  1. From the player properties menu, features tab, uncheck the default-selected player features to remove them.
  2. Click “Colors & Effects” in the custom tab.
  3. From here you can access the “Show Advanced Color Editing Link” to customize both the color and transparency of every element of the course player—most of which can be found under “Base.”
  4. Boost the transparency for items on the base to 100 percent to make them effectively disappear.

That’s just a quick overview; but you can find a more detailed step-by-step tutorial from Nicole Legault in this article.

10. Get an Estimate of Your Course's Duration

If you’ve ever tried to calculate how long a course is, you may have resorted to the “counting the slides and multiplying by X number of minutes” method—or you may just be using gut-instinct based on how long other similar courses have taken your learners to complete.

Either of those methods is fine, but did you know that Storyline actually provides you with an estimate of your course’s length? Here’s how to find it:

  1. In the publish options, click the ellipsis to the right of your project title.
  2. Next to “Duration” you’ll see a drop-down menu with the default selection “Calculate Automatically” and Storyline’s estimated duration in the box to the right of that menu.

Here’s a final quick demo to help you find this hidden Storyline treasure.

 

Just keep in mind that Storyline’s estimated duration is just that: an estimate. The duration of a specific slide or an entire course can vary depending on the amount of interactivity, layers, branching scenarios, and other features you’ve added.  

Those are just ten of my favorite semi-secret Storyline features and tips. There are so many more! I love learning and sharing tricks and time-savers, so tell me all about your favorite hidden features or shortcuts in a comment below.

And don’t forget to follow us on Twitter and come back to E-Learning Heroes regularly for more helpful advice on everything related to e-learning.

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Richard Presley