Effective learning occurs when learners can connect with the material and this connectedness happens through emotions. Various studies have confirmed how emotions affect mental processes and learning habits. Karla Gutierrez summarises emotional learning well by saying that “Students learn if they care. They pay attention if they feel encouraged. They engage with others if they feel welcomed.”
So how do we trigger these emotions and connectedness?
Well there are various ways an instructional designer can do this with the use of colour, graphics, content and of course typography or fonts. In this article, I am going to focus on using typography to create emotion. Typography is more than just text, it’s a graphic element that communicates ideas and adds to the learning process. Here is a few points to remember when using typography to engage learners:
People have more of an emotional brain response to words in larger fonts. So make sure the font size is correct to the message you are portraying.
Fonts project certain emotions such as fun, trust and confidence. For example, a statement written in Baskerville is more likely to be believed by the reader than a statement written in Comic sans. So understand the message you want to portray and select an appropriate font according.
Serif and Sans Serif Fonts
Fonts are divided into two main categories – Serif and Sans Serif fonts. Serif fonts are more difficult to read than Sans Serif fonts.
Limit the number of fonts
Don’t use more than three types of fonts in your course. Use multiple styles within a font family and be mindful of not mixing too many typefaces and styles.
Choose a fitting font for your audience
We now know that fonts project emotions and different audiences relate to different emotions. The font you use for a compliance course would be different to one used for a high school life skills course.
Consistency is key to delivering a stronger, more professional message. Don’t change your fonts and font colours half way through your course. Try to create a course style guide before you begin. This will help you to communicate your message and maintain consistency.
Wordplay typography or illustrative typography is a fun way to use letters and words to convey the particular word’s visual meaning. Wordplay can be used to suggest the meaning of a word or to create a certain mood. Just be careful to use it appropriately.
- The Rapid E-learning Blog – How fonts take a starring role in your e-learning courses, January 12th, 2010.
- Swift’s eLearning Blog – Use these 4 tips to evoke emotion in your eLearning courses, October 15th, 2013. Karla Gutierrez.