Three Tips for Using Bullet Points in E-Learning

Bullet points in e-learning have a bad reputation. You might think they’re boring, ugly, or a sign of lazy design. No matter what your opinion is regarding the use of bullet points in e-learning, they aren’t going away anytime soon! In fact, bullet points are an easy way to organize and present content. Using bullet points in e-learning doesn’t mean they have to be boring or ugly—you just have to rethink the way you’re using them.

Here are three tips for using bullet points in e-learning.

1. Turn them into a diagram.

Diagrams are a great way to communicate the relationships between pieces of information. So if your bullet points have some sort of a relationship, see if you can turn them into a diagram instead. For example, let’s say you’re designing an e-learning course on preventing identity theft and you want to outline the steps someone should take when they are a victim of identity theft. You could simply list the each step in a numbered list, or you could turn them into a diagram.

Bullet Points in E-Learning

Most diagrams can be created using basic shapes and text boxes. You can also use SmartArt in PowerPoint to quickly create a diagram. Additionally, if you have extra information to present with each of your main points, try making the diagram interactive by having each section of the diagram reveal additional information when clicked.

2. Pair them with a meaningful graphic.

The human brain has a greater capacity to remember images than it does text.  So instead of using text bullets, consider using a meaningful (not just decorative) graphic for each point. Over the past several years, icons have become a popular graphic design asset to use in e-learning courses, and they can work well for this purpose.

Let’s say you’re working on an e-learning course to explain the consequences in improperly handling of medical data. As before, you could just list each consequence as a bullet point on the screen, or you could pair each point with a meaningful icon.

bullet points in e-learning

Although you can download countless icons sets from the internet, most icons, like diagrams, are created using basic shapes. To get the exact look and feel you desire, try creating your own custom icons in PowerPoint.

3. Change the way they look.

Sometimes a list is just a list.  Sometimes you don’t have the time or money for a more elaborate design.  The quickest and easiest way to work with bullet points in e-learning is to simply change the way they look. This doesn’t mean getting rid of the bullet points, it simply means embellishing them.

Let’s say you’re working with a series of bullet points to outline some important reminders when dealing with angry customers. Rather than just listing the bullet points on the screen (like you would in a document), take some time to create a checklist graphic and turn each bullet point into an item on that list.

bullet points in e-learning

This technique doesn’t avoid the fact that you’ll still end up with bullet points on the screen, but it does present them in a more interesting way. Additionally, if you’re using audio narration in your e-learning course, try adding entrance animations to your bullet points and time them to enter when they’re mentioned in the audio.

Bullet points in e-learning don’t have to be a bad thing. In fact, they’re more versatile than we give them credit for! The key is to find new and creative ways to present them within your e-learning course or presentation.

Do you have a creative way of using bullet points in e-learning? Share it with us by commenting below!

Tim Slade
Tim Slade is the Creative Director & E-Learning Authoring Tools Trainer for Artisan E-Learning and E-Learning Uncovered. Tim has 8+ years of e-learning experience, working to help others elevate their e-learning and visual communications content. Tim has been recognized and awarded within the e-learning industry multiple times for his creative and innovative design aesthetics. Tim also speaks regularly at national e-learning conferences, is a recognized Articulate Super Hero, and is co-author of the popular E-Learning Uncovered book series.

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