Before you read any further – or if you’d rather not read – check out my 3-minute instructional video on Fonts in eLearning, where you can also learn a bit about using fonts in Microsoft® PowerPoint®.
There’s a LOT of information on the use of fonts as an eLearning element. I don’t know about you, but sometimes I’m overwhelmed by how much there is to know about fonts and typography. That’s probably because I’m not a graphic designer. So, if you’re looking for detailed information about typography design, feel free to move on to another post, like this one, which I discovered via a Mike Taylor tweet (@tmiket).
My goal is to provide some broad guidance on the use of fonts in eLearning design. To that end, I’m going to provide an example from Microsoft®. Many people disparage using their fonts in eLearning. One argument is that they’re overused. Since I haven’t done any research, I can’t confirm or refute that. But I can say that I find many of their combinations, like the one in this screenshot,engaging and pleasing to my eye.
Headings vs. Body Text
The slide in this screenshot (above) was created using the Newsprint design and font theme in PowerPoint®. The heading uses the Impact typeface, 49 points. Body text is in Times New Roman, 24 points. You can find this theme, and many more, by clicking the Design tab; change Fonts by clicking the Fonts drop-down arrow.
This theme adheres to the overall approach that most people agree upon: use one font for the headlines and another for the body text. In this case, the body font is a serif font; that is, there are little lines at the top and bottom of each character that purportedly help guide a reader’s eye. The headline font is sans serif, minus the “guiding lines.”
Serif or Sans and How Many Fonts?
By the way, there are many articles recommending that ONLY sans serif fonts be used for eLearning because they are easier to read in digital format than serif fonts. Ah, and now you’re beginning to see the complexities around this topic!
Typically, you should use no more than two fonts. Contrast can be achieved, as it’s done here, by changing scale and style. The body text is smaller; the heading text is larger and bolder.
Check out Articulate® David Anderson’s (@elearning) Screenr (instructional video) on using scale, style, and color to create emphasis in eLearning content. And the eLearning coach (@elearningcoach) has an informative blog entitled What font should I use?
You can of course move beyond the fonts provided by Microsoft®. Do a web search and you’ll find gazillions (well, almost) of fonts, both free and for a fee.
Pencil Image courtesy of Arvind Balaraman/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Note: Microsoft and PowerPoint are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and/or other countries.