Style Guides in E-learning Course Development

Style Guides in E-learning Course Development

What is a style guide?

A style guide is a document that puts together all the standards that include grammar, formatting issues, visual effects, capitalizations, abbreviations, etc. In brief, it can be called as the “style” which defines your course. In addition to these, specialized styles meet the requirements of clients.

The style guides which we follow in CommLab India are based on these standard style guides:

  • AP Stylebook
  • AMA Manual of Style
  • The Chicago Manual of Style
  • The Gregg Reference Manual

Here are a few basic styles which you can follow while developing a course.


Rule 1: Abbreviations 

  • Abbreviations (e.g., lbs, mp) can be used in a bulleted list, but in the context of a discussion (paragraphs, descriptions, etc.), they should be spelled out (e.g., pounds, megapixel).
  • Avoid using Latin abbreviations, as it leads to complications in translations and comprehension in other geographical languages. Instead, we can use “that is”, “in other words”, “for example”, or “such as”.

Rule 2: Acronyms 

  • Spell out words on the first occurrence along with acronym in parentheses. Thereafter, use the acronym in capital letters, unless the acronym is widely known and will be understood by our audience. For Example, RAM can be globally understood.

Rule 3: Capitalization 

  • Capitalize proper nouns and all words in titles except articles, prepositions and conjunctions.
  • With hyphenated compound words, always capitalize the first element; do not capitalize the second element unless it is a trademarked word capitalized in that way. For example, Pre-announcement Sales CD.
  • Use lowercase for “and”, “but”, “for”, “or”, and “nor” unless they are emphasized in a particular heading.

Rule 4: Hyphens and Dashes

  • Hyphens and dashes are not the same. If you are linking phrases, use an em dash ( — ) or a colon. If you are linking words, use a hyphen (-).
  • Avoid hyphenation unless needed to avoid ambiguity. Never split product names, trademarks, units of measure and sizes at the end of a line by using hyphens.

Rule 5: Quotation marks

  • Punctuation always goes inside quotation marks. Exceptions are colons and semicolons.
  • Within content, avoid using quotation marks unless you’re actually quoting; for emphasis, use italics instead and only sparingly.


Rule 1: Bulleted lists 

  • Bullets should be red circles. Black and gray are acceptable. No other colors. Secondary bullets should be red dashes.
  • Spacing between bullets should be automatically set by the first look course template. However, if in question, bullets should be single spaced (1 pt.). To indent bullets, use the Increase Indent button on the tool bar or tab.

Rule 2: Font

  • Use Arial standard 16 point font for text in slides. Titles should be in Arial 20 point font. The font can be changed as per the client’s requirement, but the preferred font is Arial.
  • The color of the font should be black. Again, this can be changed according the requirements of the client.

Many other standard style guides can be followed for maintaining consistency in the course. This will help the learner learn quickly and increase the level of satisfaction. Please do share your views on style guides for a quality eLearning course.