The Ultimate Guide To Color-Coding In eLearning

The Ultimate Guide To Color-Coding For eLearning
Summary: This article is the ultimate guide to color-coding. Color-coding is deemed to be one of the most effective studying techniques used in education. It includes information on the benefits of using colors for learning as well as 5 color-coding tips that eLearning platforms can apply to boost results.

How To Boost Study Results Using Colors

Studying is definitely not everyone’s cup of tea, but you cannot deny that it is, in fact, one of the most crucial parts of life. For many people, learning and finding the right studying strategies can be a challenging task. Apart from having to find out what type of learner you are (i.e. visual, auditory, reading/writing, kinesthetic), you also have to figure out the learning tactic that best suits you.

As there are so many tips out there that are guaranteed to help people study more effectively, it can feel a bit overwhelming to find the ones that are a perfect fit. Especially when it comes to running eLearning platforms. This may even be more difficult as you will have to design courses that support all types of learners. Luckily, this article will (hopefully) make it a little bit easier for you.

What if I told you that one of the most effective studying strategies involves the simple use of colors? Although you might associate colors with something that only children would use, you would be surprised by how effective they actually are for college students and adults.

Here are all the reasons why colors are extremely beneficial for learning.

The Benefits Of Using Colors For Learning

With so much information to absorb, colors are able to create the perfect environment that leverages the processes of learning.

Each color has its own specific wavelength, which supposedly affects our brain in different ways. This means that the selection of colors will, therefore, play a role in affecting our feelings, behaviors, and attention when it comes to learning.

Although there is no concrete proof to the science behind it yet, many who work within the education sector consider the "wise use of colors" to be a learning advantage.

Humans are sensitive to visual cues; and, compared to black and white, color was found to increase the chances of information being encoded, stored, and retrieved. Hence, with color, you are able to process information quicker as it visually organizes information in ways that are meaningful to you.

Interestingly, color can also be used to set the right mood for your study environment. The list below indicates how each color fosters learning.

  • Red increases alertness, but can be disturbing to those who are anxious.
  • Orange increases productivity, promotes comfort and is known to be a great mood lifter. But, do not use this color with those who have a hyperactive disorder or are naturally energetic as it can lead to overstimulation.
  • Yellow encourages creativity and positive feelings, while also helping maintain attention.
  • Blue, due to its cool tone, can be tranquilizing. It increases productivity while also offering a more friendly environment for those whose learning involves high stress and cognitive load.
  • Green creates a calming environment, improves efficiency and concentration.
  • Off-white promotes positive feelings and helps maintain attention.

How To Implement Color-Coding In eLearning

When implementing color-coding, there are 3 main factors that you must consider:

1. Word Categorization

Before you can assign colors to each word or phrase, you must figure out the categories you want to code them into. For example, if you are learning a new language, you may consider grouping words into a "vocabulary" or a "grammar" category. Or, you may also choose to categorize words according to their level of importance.

Grouping certain information using the same color will help you view and remember the most important points—similar to how highlighting phrases from textbooks helps people study more effectively.

2. Color Scheme

Next, you’re going to have to choose your color scheme. The significance you give to each color will be important, so you should consider selecting colors that will make the most sense to you. This way, it can provide you with the context of the information marked with that specific color.

A great way to do this is to choose colors with close associations to certain concepts, feelings, or events. For example, you may use pink for any terms related to women, blue for those related to men, or even green for those related to health and sustainability.

However, color meanings will differ between cultures. Therefore, depending on the audience that you are targeting and where they come from, it is advised to do your research beforehand.

3) Color Application

Lastly, you’ll have to decide on how you want to apply the color codes. You may choose to highlight words, use sticky notes, add colored shapes and symbols, or even use colored fonts, which happens to be the most common application for color-coding.

In addition to these 3 rules of color-coding, there are many other ways in which you can use color-coding to optimize your eLearning courses. Continue reading down below for the top color-coding tips that you need to know.

The 5 Color-Coding Tips You Need To Know

1. Use Bright Colors

For educational purposes, colors can be used to stimulate neural activity, allowing students to learn, memorize, and retain new information more efficiently. Especially for those who are visual learners, the brighter the colors are, the more they are able to capture the attention for particular types of information.

Typically, red is used to accentuate important ideas, since it is considered to be the most alarming color. Think of all the vocabulary words you had to learn as a child. Most of the time, teachers would write the terminology down in red while its definitions would remain written in a neutral black color.

Bright colors help produce higher contrast, which further leads to increased visibility of the information being presented. However, despite its amazing uses, it is good to note that you should not use bright colors (especially red) for an extended period of time as this can cause cognitive overload.

2. Be Consistent

Once you have picked the color scheme you want to use for each category, you must remember to stick to these same colors throughout your eLearning course, instead of having to learn all the color codes over again each time. This will make it easier for your students to organize and remember the information.

3. Only Use Color With The Most Important Information

If you were to color code all types of information from your lesson, there would be nothing left standing out. Remember, the purpose of using color is to accentuate certain points to make it easier for your students to process information. For this reason, color-coding everything would not be ideal.

A better strategy would be to direct attention toward the most necessary information using warm colors, such as red or orange. These colors should be placed over neutral backgrounds to strengthen their effect, making them bold enough for learners to instantly notice them and take note of that information.

In contrast, cool colors like blue, green, and purple can be used for a calming effect. They are not the best colors to use when you want to emphasize a point. Instead, you may use these colors to highlight supporting details.

4. Distinguish Between Main Ideas And Smaller Details

By separating main ideas from minor details with different colors, this will organize the information in ways that are more logical for learners. For instance, you may use red for a larger theme or main idea and a neutral or cool tone for every other supporting detail.

Distinguishing between the levels of importance for each type of information will help increase the clarity and readability of the study content. Due to the color codes assigned to each level, it may also aid learners in making connections between each idea and its supporting points.

Therefore, this can truly help learners out when it comes to reasoning.

5. Avoid Using Too Many Colors

Color-coding provides many learning benefits, however, there is a limit to how many colors you should use during a lesson.

Using too many colors will make it harder for your students to remember and retain information. Similar to the excessive use of bright colors, having one too many colors can cause a cognitive overload. Rather than making learning easier for your students, this will complicate things even more.

So, to maximize the effectiveness of your eLearning lessons, a good rule of thumb is to stick to three—max four colors.


To become a successful eLearning platform, offering educational and valuable courses is simply not enough. When designing these courses, it is vital that you also take both their physiological and psychological effects on learners into consideration.

All students will differ in their learning styles and abilities. You must try your best to adhere to all of them, and this is where color-coding will benefit you.

Colors are used in everything, and they are much more meaningful than we expect them to be. Whether you are learning something new or trying to recall certain information, color-coding is found to be an effective studying technique that works universally.

As color codes can also be used across a variety of subjects, there is no reason why you shouldn’t apply these techniques to your eLearning lessons. If you haven’t done so already, try implementing colors in your courses to achieve the best results.

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