Practical Tips for Writing Online Learning Content

Studies have found that the ways we consume and read content on our devices is different to our way of reading traditional documents. While we are using more and more interactive formats of learning such as videos, animations and simulations, sometimes text based elements are the best option. While this post focuses on learning content, the same principles apply to all web writing. First, let’s take a quick look at how people engage with online texts and then move to practical tips for writing online learning content.

How do our learners read online text content?

In their study on internet reading habits, Nielsen Norman Group found that people don’t actually read online texts. Rather, they glance and skim through them. When opening online content, such as a website or a learning module, learners first skim through the text quickly and then return to whichever part seems interesting. Thus, it’s highly important that you make your content skimmable and easy to read. Now, here are some tips on how to put that into practice and write good online learning content.

Write better online learning content with these practical tips

Here’s a list of the most important aspects of writing web-based content.

  • Don’t use uppercase in the body of the text, headings or titles. Only very short individual words can be written in all capital letters.
  • Don’t bold, italicise or underline full sentences. You should only use highlighting for individual words and names, as using too much will decrease efficacy.
  • You should always format sub-headings as heading, rather than simply bold them.
  • Always use list elements to write lists, no dashes.
  • Don’t use consecutive 1-3 row paragraphs, but try to combine them into 5-12 row ones.
  • Always align all text and headings to the left. Never justify online texts.
  • Don’t display long URLs, but rather use descriptive links or graphic buttons to direct attention.

If you follow these guidelines for writing online learning content, your content will likely look good on all devices from smartphones to desktop computers. By catering to your learners’ online reading habits, you can help them to digest information better. Furthermore, if you’re writing content and want it to be found easier (for instance, if you’re marketing online learning), these tips will also help you with search engine optimisation (SEO).

If you’re looking to develop online learning materials or find ways to improve both user experience and retention, we are happy to share ideas. Just contact us.

More Learning Ideas