A completed outline needs to be completed and approved for each course/topic, using the “CourseOutline.xls” worksheet. An accurate, complete outline is very important, and serves as a checklist for you later as you test and proofread the topic. When submitting the outline, include a screenshot of the application as you will be using it.
The application should be as clean and professional as possible–check for the following:
Standard user access–not admin
No custom toolbars or folders
No “test” data. In timekeeping software, for example, take the time to create sample entries for “Phone calls,” “Document creation,” etc.
No personal messages or documents visible. In Outlook, for example, move personal messages to a temporary folder, and collapse its parent folder so it is not visible.
Click here for Example application screen
Tip: If you create a free e-mail account specifically for e-learning development, you can create a separate mailbox, and forward appropriate messages to it. This ensures that the folders look clean and professional.
A topic should have only 10-12 slides, excluding opening and closing slides, and take approximately 2 minutes for the user to complete (usually determined by the length of the audio).
In the interactive version, there should be user interaction (e.g., click) at least every third slide.
If appropriate, include Best Practice slides, and tips.
Not every step needs to be shown, e.g., it is acceptable to say “Because we have pointed the mouse at the ‘Table’ button, the button appears selected,” rather than asking the user to point the mouse. Additional slides can often be avoided by using mouse roll-over images or slidelets.
The outline serves as the script for the topic. Test each step carefully, with the application screen size 790×545 to make sure everything is clear. (See To size the application screen). Make sure that, if a dialog box opens, it fits inside those dimensions, and make sure it can be moved or resized it if necessary. If a dialog box must be cut off, the
The outline also serves as a checklist during development, to make sure all keystroke equivalents, etc., have been created.
The outline includes:
Name the screen/dialog box you will capture.
Text box: (During development, much of text created for the outline can be copy/pasted to the actual text box in the left column of the Captivate screen):
Explain: Informational text, e.g.,
Explain: the 'bcc' field is not always visible. It must be added in the 'New Message' screen.
Instruct: Actual instruction , e.g.
Instruct: Click the ‘New’ button.
If the user needs to click the ‘Continue’ button for the next screen, this should be included.
Use simple, clear language and active voice, e.g. “We will do that for you in the next screen,” not “That will be completed for you in the next screen.”
Use single quotation marks, not double. Avoid nested quotation marks and avoid too many quotation marks – they interfere with readability.
If a date is referred to in numeric form only, try to use dates where the month and day are the same, to eliminate confusion between British and American dates, e.g. “09/09/2009”, or “04/04/2010.” Otherwise, spell the date out, e.g. “July 25th.”
Where possible, use words with the same spelling in British English and American English. Change the syntax if necessary. (For example, I changed the previous sentence from “words spelled the same (“spelt” in British English) to “words with the same spelling.”
Here’s a useful link. American/British English Careful, though – they are wrong about the word “argument” – it has no “e” in British English!
Some are unavoidable, for example “dialog box.” In this case, use the term/spelling listed in Microsoft’s “Manual of Style for Technical Publications.”
Use Microsoft’s “Manual of Style for Technical Publications ” as a resource for terminology and style in general – it is an excellent resource. Unfortunately, since it was last updated in 2004, it does not include Office 2007 terminology.
This link gives most of the “correct” terms for Microsoft Office 2007.
Use American-style punctuation, e.g., commas always inside quotation marks.
Click Box: Name of button, tab, etc.( if any)
Keystroke Equivalent (if any)
Text Entry (e.g., "please type 'My document' in the field"). Avoid it if possible. In Captivate, if you use the Text Entry function, the user must press “enter” after entering text, and this invalidates the effect of a simulation. A single keystroke can be created as a click box keystroke equivalent, with the “click” disabled. (See screenshot below.)
Highlights: Each button/tab/option to be clicked should have a highlight applied, unless it is pre-selected, i.e., orange, and therefore the obvious choice. Other obvious choices are the ‘OK’ and ‘Cancel’ buttons – the user knows where to look for them.
Mouse roll-overs: The Captivate roll-over feature is very useful. It allows you to add tool-tips and tips without adding extra frames, which allows the user to move through the topic quicker while still learning what they need to know.