Principles of Visual Design for eBooks


This is a little video I made summing up some of the stuff I’ve learned about Visual Design and applying it to educational materials such as eBooks. I became interested in this after Tammy Jones and Gabriela Kleckova’s wonderful presentation on Visual Design Principles for Teachers at TESOL 2014.

I’ve done a bit of reading here and there but am by no means an expert. But I hope that my presentation will give you something to think about as you work on your eBooks and I’ve listed my sources and other places to get information below the video.

Principles of Visual Design for Educators

Sources and Resources

A lot of my presentation is basically rewording the information for Purdue’s OW’s presentations on Visual Design.

Purdue also led me to this fun site about the effects of color, Color in Motion.

If you’re looking for inspiration to get a color scheme, the  Color Scheme Designer is the best tool I know of. I like to find a color that speaks to me, then press the Triad button at top to get two other colors and then adjust as I see fit. And again, always think about complementary colors (I think I called them contrasting colors in my presentation) as well as combining light and dark variations.

There’s a nice tutorial on Spacing and Font Size that gives some advice on balancing your text and your white space.

And finally a site that features some pleasing Font Combinations to give you some good ideas.

The Bottom Line

Summing up with some basic practical advice, in case you don’t have a ton of time to watch a presentation and research online.

Have a set consistent style where all the unit headers look a certain way, all the directions look a certain way, all the vocabulary lists look a certain way, and so on….

Keep your layout simple and clear and easy to read.

Make sure the student can glance at your pages and easily distinguish what’s what–ah, this must be the reading text and this picture goes with these questions.

Use a minimum of fonts and colors, but do use some color and decoration.

Sans-serif fonts and serif fonts go well together.

A little bolding or underlining or making a font 3-4 sizes bigger can go a long way.

Use pictures. But align them so that they line up with the rest of the text.

Don’t do this (Busy, hard to read, inconsistent):

Or this (boring):

Or this (Too many different styles mixed together):

Bad Design


And I’m happy to take questions, comments, or critiques in the comments here or on the EVO Community site or by email.

If you enjoyed this post, check out my books at

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