2: Style and Consistency

Examples 5 and 6 showing consistent infographic and poster styles
Reading Time: 5 minutes


  • Choosing a style for your content that reflects your topic and is suitable for your audience.
  • Utilising a consistent visual style in order to create a familiar and user-friendly experience.


Developing the style of your content and learning resources should be considered in the planning stages. By style, we mean your choice of colour, font, layout, graphics, and anything that adds to the visual presentation of your content. The style of your content should reflect its purpose, suit your audience and can also reveal a little bit about you. The visual presentation of information can affect the way in which it is communicated and received by your audience. Would you use a different visual style if you were presenting to a much younger or older audience? Would your lectures be received differently if you used a different font, such as Comic Sans vs Calibri? We will take a closer look at the specifics of the colour, font, and layout design principles later in this series.

Establishing your Style

Whether it be presentation slides, an educational video or even lecture notes, you can establish your own style that your audience can recognise. Take a moment to consider if there is already an emerging style in your existing learning resources. Identify any consistent elements and take note of them. When planning new material, these elements can then be implemented, and you have begun to encourage a style in your work.

For example:

  • Do you always use the same fonts?
  • Do text boxes remain in a specific location in your presentation slides?
  • Do your images flow from left to right or from top to bottom?

University of Dundee Branding

For marketers and those that communicate on the University’s behalf, please see the University brand guidelines – Brand guidelines | Brand | University of Dundee.  Academic staff may wish to use the University branding for external-facing content, such as conference material.


Consistency is highlighted in the Dundee Module Baseline in order to improve student engagement and overall experience for online and blended learning. This can also be applied to the visual style of your content and learning resources. A simple, consistent theme can minimise visual intake, reducing cognitive load and encouraging knowledge transfer. Your material can become recognisable, and your audience can focus on the meaning of the content whether it be a complex theory or a set of instructions. In everyday life we thrive from consistency, and this is the same when it comes to communicating information.

Consistent Presentation Layouts

Examples 1 and 2 showing consistent presentation layouts
Examples 1 and 2: showing consistent presentation layouts

The examples above highlight two ways in which the placement of content can be used consistently in presentation slides. In example 1, the content of each slide follows the same placement as its predecessor. By keeping all elements in a fixed location, your audience will recognise this style and visual/textual information will become easy to follow.

A consistent layout does not have to be linear, as you can see in example 2. The header is located in the same position on each slide. However, the image location alternates from right to left maintaining this pattern throughout the entire presentation; this ensures consistency whilst keeping the layout visually interesting. The text boxes have distinctive curved corners to differentiate them in terms of content; this text box style is used throughout.

Consistent Presentation Themes

Example 3 and 4 showing consistent presentation themes
Examples 3 and 4: showing consistent presentation themes

These examples showcase how a PowerPoint theme can be used consistently throughout presentation slides. As you can see in example 3, a simple and consistent style has been used throughout. The top and bottom margins, font and placement of colour established in the title slide remain the same. Although the title slide differs in layout, the placement of colour is consistent with blue on the left and light grey on the right.

In example 4, a similar theme is used in a consistent yet less rigid way. The same colour palette and font is used throughout, however the placement of colour and slide layout changes dependant on the content of the slide. For example, each slide with a single image has the same slide design. Note that although the header box changes in length, the header is placed in the same position on each slide.

Consistent Poster and Infographic Styles

Examples 5 and 6 showing consistent infographic and poster styles
Examples 5 and 6: showing consistent infographic and poster styles

Consistency is just as important when creating infographics, posters and other media-rich documents. In example 5, the title and subheading are easily identifiable, and their position encourages the eye to their location. The use of consistent shapes (in this case, the circles) links the textual information together. The size of the circles differ which creates some depth to the page. This type of design could be used for a poster which needs to be eye-catching with limited information presented.

Example 6 (adapted from a Canva template) also uses consistent styling throughout to communicate information with a similar bold, graphic style. There is a consistent style between the illustrations which suit the subject and complement the shapes used throughout. This infographic uses the same colour palette as previous examples we have looked at demonstrating how you can make use of your style across different types of content. Here example 5 and 6 could easily belong to the same module or set of resources. Although there are differences to the design, the same bold colours and graphic shapes are used, tying the two pieces of content together.


As with user interface design, consistency within the style of your content will improve usability for your audience. One of Jakob Nielsen’s 10 usability heuristics is to ‘maintain consistency and adhere to standards’. For example, consistent use of icons, logo placement and text formatting on a website makes it easier to use. Improving the usability of your content makes it more accessible to your audience. This concept applies to many types of design and can be kept in mind when designing your content.

We will take a closer look at the accessibility points surrounding elements of style such as colour and typefaces later in this series.  It is important to note the importance of creating content that is accessible as it is a legal requirement for the University. We recommend reading this guide on creating inclusive teaching materials for an overview of accessibility requirements and some practical help.

Further Reading


Steppingstone Day 2: Consider your Style

To help you establish your own style it can be useful to examine other examples. After considering your usual style choices and identifying any areas of consistency, take a look at examples of content that is similar to what you would like to create. You may wish to do this as a peer review with one of your colleagues or take a look at an Open Educational Resource (OER Commons). What works well and what does not work so well? Is the style used consistently? How could you make this style work for you?

If you co-teach with others, you may wish to discuss your style choices with your colleagues. Do you think it is beneficial to keep a consistent style between content if it is delivered by different lecturers? Should the style be different? Does it matter? Please discuss your thoughts in the comments below.

6: Design Principles in Context

process showing the breakdown of a 2 hour synchronous session into short pre-recorded videos with activities in between
Reading Time: 3 minutes


  • Taking a look at some examples of different types of media.
  • Useful resources and software for creating your content.


An infographic can be described as a visual representation of information or data. This may be in the form of an infographic poster or an image within a presentation, for example. Infographics can work really well to explain processes or to simply complex data into something visual (this is also known as data visualisation).

Using infographics

Below are some ways you may wish to use an infographic. Can you think of any more?

  • A visual overview of weekly activities in a module
  • Represent results of an experiment
  • Simplify a complex set of instructions
  • Graphical abstract for a paper

Infographics – Software and Resources

Using MS office, you will find that you can use basic shapes, icons and charts to create infographics for your content. This video by Educational Technologist, James Kieft shows you how to create an infographic in PowerPoint.

There are also many infographic software websites available online including Canva (sign-up required) and Adobe Spark (sign-in with staff email address). These sites offer you a range of templates, in-built tools and media to help you get creative.


We have used presentation slides as examples throughout this Learning X series. In summary, when designing your presentation slides you should consider:

  • Consistency, such as the colours used or the placement of headings
  • Visual hierarchy and layout
  • The balance between text and graphic elements
  • Sufficient negative space and consistent margins
  • Significant contrast between colours (particularly text and background)
  • Simple, clear typefaces and fonts

Design and Accessibility for PowerPoint

PowerPoint Video 1 – Improving Design Accessibility
PowerPoint Video 2 – Accessibility Checker

Presentations – Software and Resources


Check out our Learning X series on Effective Videos for Education for more information!

  1. Planning
  2. Engagement and delivery style
  3. Video ready teaching materials
  4. Recording video for education
  5. Editing video for education
  6. Summary and references


It is worth thinking about files in which your audience cannot easily edit the formatting (for example, a video or PDF). If you provide an additional copy of the original file (for example, a PowerPoint presentation) the text, the colours and the design can be customised by the audience to meet any specific needs they have. Text can be increased in size or the colours changes for any visual or neurological needs. It is still important to keep to professional standards and use a design that is accessible as possible from the get-go.


Steppingstone – Day 6: Finalise your Visuals

By now you should have made some progress with your design and have hopefully started to think about developing your visual style. The next stepping stone is to ‘finalise your visuals’. This will be dependent on the type of content you are creating. It may be creating slides for a pre-recorded lecture or adding text / images to an infographic.

Today’s is mainly about research and discussion. Let us know how you have been getting on so far in the comments. Please reach out with any questions you may have.