5 Tips for Using Fonts in eLearning

Using fonts in eLearning can have a dramatic impact on the experience your learners have while using your course. When used properly, fonts can create visual interest and hierarchy, give your course personality, and even evoke an emotional response from your learners. On the other hand, when fonts are used improperly, they can become distracting and create an inconsistent design.

When designing an eLearning course, it’s easy to overlook the use of fonts and stick with the default styles. If you’re new to eLearning or a non-graphic designer, selecting, pairing, and incorporating fonts into your design can be a challenge!

If you’re looking to improve your use of fonts to create better-looking courses, check out these five tips for using fonts in eLearning.

Understand How Fonts are Classified

Fonts come in every shape and size. Some fonts are modern, some are whimsical, and others are just plain quirky! And just like the many classifications of animals within the animal kingdom, there are just as many classifications of fonts within the “font kingdom.”

tips for using fonts in eLearning

When using fonts in eLearning, learn the different types of fonts, how they are classified, and how they affect the looks and feel of your content.

Fonts are organized into four main classifications:

  • Serif fonts include small decorative lines or embellishments on the body of the character. Serif fonts appear more traditional in appearance and are best used for printed text.
  • Sans Serif fonts are the opposite of serif fonts, as they do not include the decorative embellishments. Sans serif fonts appear more modern and are best used for on-screen text.
  • Script fonts are fonts that appear to be handwritten. Some script fonts look more formal or elegant than others and are best used sparingly for emphasis.
  • Decorative fonts are any other fonts that don’t fit into any of the above categories. Decorative fonts are usually quirky and are best used for emphasis.

Create Hierarchy with Size, Spacing & Contrast

When you’re designing an eLearning course, you shouldn’t treat all your text equally. Learners viewing your course will naturally scan your slides to determine what’s most important and what’s least important. The good news is, you have the power to guide your learners through your slides using fonts!

tips for using fonts in eLearning

When using fonts in eLearning, create a sense of visually hierarchy with size, spacing, and contrast. By default, most blocks of text are boring and hard to read. Adjusting the spacing between the headings and paragraphs creates white space and makes it easier to read.

Creating a sense of hierarchy can also be created with size and contrast. When selecting fonts, choose contrasting font styles for heading and body content. It can also help to make headings a few sizes larger than your body content. This will help create a distinct sense of hierarchy.

Avoid Unnecessary Emphasis

When editing a block of text, it’s easy to create emphasis by underlining, bolding, or italicizing certain words or phrases. Although these formatting options may have significant meaning to you when you’re reading the text, that meaning is rarely translated by the learner.

tips for using fonts in eLearning

When using fonts in eLearning, avoid unnecessarily emphasizing your text. Only use emphasis formatting when it has some specific meaning to the course content and the learner. Bolding text for headers, underlining hyperlinks, or italicizing quotes are all acceptable ways to emphasize your text.

Never Sacrifice Legibility for Style

Once you uncover the creative power of using different fonts styles in your eLearning, it’s easy to go overboard. Sometimes, the most creative fonts are the ones hardest to read.

tips for using fonts in eLearning

When using fonts in eLearning, never sacrifice legibility for style. Although it might be fun to use that crazy font you discovered and downloaded, but remember the importance of creating an effective learning experience—you don’t want the style of your text to become a barrier to your learning content.

Always Be Consistent

As with all types of design, consistency matters! Inconsistent design creates a distraction, is confusing, and is a sign of sloppy development. When using fonts in eLearning, always be consistent. Once you decide upon a font style, size, and color for heading, body, and emphasis text, use them religiously!

tips for using fonts in eLearning

What other tips do you have for using fonts in eLearning? Share them by commenting below!

Additional Resources

Tim Slade
Tim Slade is a speaker, author, and award-winning freelance eLearning designer. Having spent the last decade working to help others elevate their eLearning and visual communications content, Tim has been recognized and awarded within the eLearning industry multiple times for his creative and innovative design aesthetics. Tim is a regular speaker at international eLearning conferences, is a recognized Articulate Super Hero, author of The eLearning Designer’s Handbook and creator of The eLearning Designer's Academy.

8 Responses to “5 Tips for Using Fonts in eLearning

  • Steffanie Hobelman
    7 years ago

    Thank you for your tips, Tim! #3 was eye-opening for me, but makes complete sense. I’m checking my current course for that right now!

    • Thanks for commenting, Steffanie! I’ve found that in most instances, I can remove the emphasis on my text and it doesn’t affect my message. At the end of the day, it keeps my content looking clean!

  • Great article Tim, thanks!

  • Mateusz
    7 years ago

    Great post as always. Informative and to the point.
    Out of interest, do you have a favourite font?

    • Thanks, Mateusz! What’s my favorite font?! Gosh, I don’t know. I go through phases. Right now, I’m a big fan of Open Sans–it’s simple, modern, and easy to read! With that being said, Century Gothic has always been a favorite font of mine.

  • Hey Tim,
    Great article as usual. One other thing I like to mention is to be aware of accessibility standards as well. I know certain regions have specific rules for line spacing and other Elektra that impact readability.

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