Restrictive Guidelines


  • Use simple, clear images (Levie & Lentz, 1982; Marcus, 1992; Rivlin, Lewis, Davies-Copper, 1990; Thompson, 1994). Simple images are more effective for instruction than complex images. Don’t use images with too much detail at a small scale as this can be lost on screen.
  • Use graphical images for instructional, motivational, or attention-focusing effects, and not simply for the sake of including them on the screen (Duchastel, 1978, 1983; Levie & Lentz, 1982; Pettersson, 1993; Rieber, 1994; Surber & Leeder, 1988).
  • Make sure all the key components of the graphical images are labeled (Rivlin, Lewis, & Davies-Copper, 1990). Use captions or titles for labeling the key elements of graphical images.
  • Consider the prior knowledge and cultural conventions of the learner in choosing graphical image components (Apple Computer Inc., 1989; Boling, Johnson, & Kirkley, 1994; Easterby, 1970). Avoid sexist, culturally-insensitive, and other potentially offensive imagery. Designers may or may not wish to recognize cultural stereotypes in enhancing the appeal of a program, as recommended by Jakobsdottir, Krey, and Sales (1994), who suggest that including pictures of people, plants, and animals in software will raise its appeal for girls, while including vehicles and machines in action will appeal to boys.



There is empirical support for concluding that multimedia information provides learning advantages in several specific situations.

When the Media Support Dual Coding of Information

According to dual coding theory (Paivio, 1971, 1986, 1991; Clark & Paivio, 1991), information is processed through one of two generally independent channels. One channel processes verbal information such as text or audio. The other channel processes nonverbal images such as illustrations and sounds in the environment. Information can be processed through both channels. This occurs, for example, when a person sees a picture of a dog and also processes the word “dog.” Information processed through both channel is called referential processing and has an additive effect on recall (Mayer & Anderson, 1991; Paivio, 1967, 1991; Paivio & Csapo, 1973 . Learning is better when the information is referentially processed through two channels than when the information is processed through only one channel. Referential processing may produce this additive effect because the learner creates more cognitive paths that can be followed to retrieve the information.

the same content presented via text alone (“monomedia”), audio alone

the same content presented via text alone (“monomedia”), audio alone (“monomedia”), or pictures alone (“monomedia”).

However, redundant multimedia does not always lead to improved learning. For example, Severin (1967) found that children who learned animal names using two media (audio combined with print) did not show better animal name recognition than children who learned with one medium (print alone).

These inconsistent results may be due to the way in which the media are used. The next section identifies specific circumstances in which multimedia appears to improve learning. It seems that some situations more effectively improve multimedia learning than other situations.

Graphical Images


Graphical images include symbols, diagrams, and illustrations. They function to attract and maintain attention, and facilitate learning from text materials (Duchastel, 1978; Levie & Lentz, 1982; Rieber, 1994). Graphical images can also provide functional guidance, aesthetic charm, and corporate or product identity (Marcus, 1992).

Expansive Guidelines

• Consider the overall standard of imagery that meets learner expectations for style (Rivlin, Lewis, & Davies-Copper, 1990).

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• Use highlighting techniques conservatively and carefully, since they are likely to attract the reader’s attention (Apple Computer Inc., 1989; Galitz, 1989; Hartley, 1987; Heines, 1984; Isaacs, 1987; Rivlin, Lewis, & Davies-Copper, 1990). Underlining and blinking should only be used if they do not interfere with the legibility of the text (Heines, 1984; Merrill, 1988; Rivlin, Lewis, & Davies-Copper, 1990; Tullis, 1988). Flashing should be reserved for items that must convey an urgent need for attention. Reverse video can be an effective method in attracting the reader’s attention, but it should be used judiciously to avoid “crossword-puzzle effects” (Galitz, 1989, p. 61) when inversed blocks run into each other and make the test look like a filled-in crossword puzzle.

• Select a typeface with a simple, clean style and use a few typefaces in any one screen or multimedia program (Apple Computer Inc., 1989; Hartley, 1994). Most screens look best with no more than two different fonts, using different sizes and weights of each (Strauss, 1991)

Graphical Images

Expansive Guidelines


• Use graphical fonts to catch a viewer’s. attention because of their size and unusual shape, even if they may be less legible than normal fonts (Nes, 1986).

Restrictive Guidelines

• Be consistent in addressing textual cues and signals to the learner (Faiola, 1989). Consistency in typographic. signals and cueing can establish and convey a very clear visual message to the viewers that they are now reading a certain subject or section of instructional content.

• Use both upper and lower case letters (Apple Computer Inc., 1989; Faiola & DeBloois,1988). The legibility of text with letters in mixed case, i.e., with capitals only used for indicating the first letter of a sentence, a name, etc., is higher than for letters in upper case only (van Nes, 1986). All upper case characters should be used only occasionally, and for the purposes of emphasis (Strauss, 1991).

• Use high contrast between letters and background to improve legibility and readability (Isaacs, 1987; Pastoor, 1990; Reynolds, 1979; Rivlin, Lewis, & Davies- Copper, 1990).
• Left-justify text, but do not right-justify it (Garner, 1990). Limit text to approximately 65 characters per line, or a maximum of 8-10 words per line (Galitz, 1989, Garner, 1990). Increase the spacing between lines for long lines of text (Garner, 1990; Hartley, 199,0). ,



One way to try to eliminate the alternative explanations is to compare learning when the information, instructional method, interactivity, and pace are the same, and novelty is reduced. For example, this situation occurs when the same verbal information is presented using audio and printed text together (redundant multimedia) versus audio text alone “monomedia”). Any performance differences found in these conditions are probably due to the media.

Some studies (Levie & Lentz, 1982; Mayer & Anderson, 1991, 1992; Nugent, 1982; Pezdek, Lehrer, & Simon, 1984; Sevcrin, 1967) looked at this kind of information presentation. These studies found that two redundant media seem to improve learning better than one medium. For example, Mayer and Anderson (1991) had college students (a) hear a verbal description, simultaneously with an animation explaining how a bicycle pump works (redundant multimedia), (b) hear the verbal description only “monomedia”), (c) see the animation only “monomedia”), or (d) receive no training. On a problem-solving test the students who heard a verbal description simultaneously with the animation (redundant multimedia) performed better than the other students. In another study (Nugent, 1982), the highest learning levels were obtained when elementary school students were presented information via combined text and pictures (redundant multimedia) or combined audio and pictures (redundant multimedia) compared to

The Guidelines



Typography, or the visual treatment of text, is the key element in text materials and in almost any well-designed table, chart, map, or diagram (Marcus, 1992). Text on screens has been found to be generally less legible than text on paper, but text display on a computer screen can be easy to read depending upon the font, the screen layout, and the contrast provided (Moose & Dwyer, 1994). Typography includes the selection of typeface, the placement of text in relation to the whole screen and in relation to other text, and the use of signals and cueing.

Signals (e.g., titles, headings, pre- and post-instructional strategies, such as preview, overview and summary, and typographical cues) are writing devices that emphasize aspects of a text’s content or structure without adding to the content of the text and help readers identify specific points in a text (Golding & Fowler, 1992; Lorch, 1989). Signaling should serve to clarify content.

Typographical cueing, or the attachment of a specific meaning to a part of a text by displaying it in a way which is different from the rest of the text, is mainly used for accentuating single words, phrases or whole paragraphs (Nes, 1986). Cueing guides the construction and implementation of learner’s prose-processing decision criteria (Glynn & Di Vesta, 1979).

Information presented via multimedia may be more novel and stimulating


Information presented via multimedia may be more novel and stimulating than information presented via traditional classroom lecture. This explanation has some support from empirical studies. Analyses (Clark, 1983, 1985; Clark & Craig, 1992; Khalili.,& Shashaani 1994; Kulik, Bangert, & Williams, 1983) of nearly 40 multimedia studies found that, compared to traditional classroom lecture, learning improvements were higher for groups that used multimedia for four weeks or less, but the learning advantage tailed off fairly strongly after eight weeks. The initial, higher learning advantages for multimedia may have been due to the novelty of the multimedia instruction. As students became more familiar with the multimedia, however, the novelty wore off, and the learning advantages decreased. It appears that the novelty of multimedia information has a slight, temporary, positive effect on learning.

So, computer-based multimedia information presentation appears to offer general learning advantages over the traditional classroom lecture presentation of information. Computer-based multimedia information seems to improve the level and rate of learning. However, instructional method, interactivity, control of learning pace, and novelty are alternative explanations for these advantages.

Subsequent review of the categorized guidelines revealed additional

Subsequent review of the categorized guidelines revealed additional distinctions between the types of guidelines within each of the six categories of guidelines. The first type is aimed at supporting intrinsic motivation or enhancing extrinsic motivation. The


Educational technology. 39:19-26. 1999

second type is aimed at preventing the loss or degradation t. ~n of either intrinsic or extrinsic motivation. We call the first type of guideline “expansive,” and the second type “restrictive.” Guidelines for each category are listed based on the expansive and restrictive classifications.