Presentation of Information

Tracy Holbert

Definition and Description

The effective presentation of instructional materials incorporates specific principles of design and function. Just as experienced teachers

develop and finely hone their instructional strategies by carefully planning and defining objectives and goals of their lesson(s) or unit(s),

they must also consider how the content will be presented to the learner.

By virtue of widely available technology, teachers now have at their disposal many options in which to present material, from self published

documents to content delivered via the internet through interactive media. Text representation is the most common mode of presentation;

however, whether printed material, power point presentations or other web or computer based media, a student’s ability to process and

interpret information is based in part on how the information is designed. As an instructor, a teacher should be able to evaluate not only

which mode of presentation will be most effective for achieving his or her learning goals, but also those features that enhance the presentation

within the delivery mode.

Our exploration into the presentation of information will focus on design elements and provide useful guidelines to increase visual literacy

in producing documents and other media in a way that engages student attention and enhances perception and processing of information

into meaningful learning (Yeh & Cheng, 2010; Sosa, 2009).

Summary of Literature: Presenation of Information and Learning Theory

How we learn and how presentation of media interacts with our ability to attent, process and retain information has many schools of thought.

Cognitive information processing theories discuss learning as a series of steps from stimulus to working memory to long term memory.

Constructivists hold that learners construct meaning from what they perceive. For a summary of factors to consider when designing media

for instruction, Alessi and Trollip, in their book Multimdia for Learning, (2001) provide a succinct overview of current thought on learning

theory with including discussions on perception and attention, encoding memory, motivation, and active learning comprehension.

When designing instructional media one must consider their own philosophy of learning, learning goals and their audiances' strengths,

weaknesses and learning styles.

Links to Psycology and Learning Therory and The Influence of Design

Design Essentials

Broadly speaking there are two fundamentals to consider when designing.
  • Composition
  • Organization and Formatting

Composition, that is, what to include in the product is comprised from use text, graphics, audio and video elements. The components

should be used to compliment and enhance the desired learning goals. Alessi and Trollip (2001) discuss the limitation and

and recommentations of these components for the optimal use.

Text -

  • Focus on readability and spacing

Graphics -
  • A picture tells a thousands words, but overuse can be a distraction to the learning goal
  • Graphics should reinforce the main ideas and concepts being presented and not used as merely decoration that may distract the learner

Audio -
  • Benifical to support comprehension
  • High quality recording is essential
  • Allow for user control options

Video -
  • Like graphics video should be used sparingly and to support key concepts
  • Keep edicational videos short and to the point
  • Allow for user control options

Formatting refers to how the information on the page or frame will be organized and displayed. The layout requires careful consideration

to draw the reader to key ideas.

C.R.A.P. -

Made popular by Robin Williams in his book The Non-Designer’s Design Book, the acronym C.R.A.P. (contrast,

repetition, alignment and proximity) describes the essentials of effective design and organization.

These design elements are explained below.


Contrast helps to differentiate and distinguish between information elements such as the headline, subtitles, body text and graphics.

Contrast provides readers with visual clues which define and separate dominant and subordinate ideas within the presentation

frame. With poor contrast the reader does not know where to direct the eye and has a hard time focusing on what is most important.


Color plays a key role in creating contrast and defining importance. Color choices should take into consideration value, (lightness or

darkness), intensity, (color saturation), and the use of complimentary or analogous colors (Berdan, 2004). Depending on the mode of

presentation, color choices and combinations may present challenges. Background colors can often interfere with text color, and some

color combinations are more difficult to see when projecting information on a screen, or computer monitor.

Alessi and Trollip (2001), suggest the following color combinations be avoided red and green, red and blue, blue and yellow and blue and

green. Printed color material is often a costly expenditure when making class sets of consumable material. In addition, color emphasis

may be lost on color blind users or black and white printers. Testing color choices is wise not only for their effectiveness within the desired

presentation mode, but also the affect color has on the learner (Alessi, 2001).

Below follow the link to a brief video regarding contrast.

Use the blue back arrow icon Back%20icon.gif in the upper left side of the screen to navigate back to this wiki page.


The cohesion of a design in large part is a reflection of the repetition of the layout. Consistent use of typeface characteristics such as font,

size, emphasis and color along with repetitious placement of information helps solidify meaning and increase usability. In addition, repeating

contrasting elements reinforces design organization. Whether producing a single handout, a power point presentations or computer based

media, repeating design elements will add to your products feel of unity and cohesiveness.

A note on typeface - There are hundreds of fonts to choose from, but ultimately you want your readers’ attention on the content of your

information not on trying to decipher a decorative, hard to read font. A good rule of thumb when choosing font type and emphasis is

“less is more”. (Brown, n.d.) This doesn’t mean that a decorative detail is out of the question; it just means that careful placement and use

should be a conscious deliberate, decision. Popular readable text type fonts are Times, Times New Roman, and Helvetica or Arial. As a

general rule use no more than two font types in your product one for your headlines and on for the body text.

Repetion Andy Warhol, Flowers 1970

Repetition in print media

Image from


Alignment within your design pertains to use of space and balance of text and visual elements. Good alignment refers to how the different

composition elements are connected and relate to each other. Text is typically aligned to the left, center or right on a page. As a general rule,

center titles and left or right align text/graphics. As you design your layout think of your different elements lining up on a grid overlay such

that the edge of one item matches that of another related item horizontally and/or vertically. The overall feel of the product should have balance

and proportion with plenty of “white” space around different groupings. Consistent alignment also adds to the overall cohesiveness of a design.

Inconsistent alignment leaves the design fractured and disconnected. Below are examples of alignment from the website

Alignment Non Example

Alignment Left

Center Alignment

Alignment Right

Alignment Break for Emphasis


While designing the layout of your product consider how your information is organized into meaningful “chunks”. Much the same way an instructor will
plan and sequence a learning objective to scaffold understanding, the proximity of information organizes and groups ideas together to create an

association in the mind of the user. The use of alignment, text characteristics such as bullet points and spacing between text,

along with the careful selection and placement of graphics help solidify the visual connection of information.

Below find a link to a short video demonstrating repetition, alignment and proximity.

Use the blue back arrow icon Back%20icon.gif in the upper left side of the screen to navigate back to this wiki page.

Proximity Non Example

Proximity Good Example Image from

Becoming visually literate in presenting information implies the ability to purposefully apply design principles that will alter your

approach, up grade your presentation, and capture your audiences' attention.

Links to Support and Explain Graphic Design Principles


  • (2011). Desktop Publishing. Retrrieved April,9,2011 from
  • Alessi, S. M., Trollip, S. R. (2001). Multimedia for learning: Methods and development. Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon.
  • Berdan, R. (2004). Composition and the elements of visual design. In Photo Composition Articles. Retreived from
  • Brown, A (n.d.). Visual design basics: Creating effective handouts, flyers and brouchures. Teaneck, NJ: Consortium of MS Centers
  • Ormrod, J. (2011). Educational Psychology. Boston, Ma: Allyn & Bacon.
  • Soza, T. (2009). Visual Literacy: The missing piece of your technology integration course. TechTrends, 53(2), 55-58.
  • Yeh, H., Cheng Y. (2009). The inlfuence of the instruction of visual design principles on improving pre-service teachers' visual literacy. Computers and Education, 54, 244-252