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This content was published: November 9, 2015. Phone numbers, email addresses, and other information may have changed.

Designing News items in D2L

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Using the News widget is an important way to not only incorporate instructor presence into the online classroom, but student interest as well. I post everything from weekly content intros to videos and articles I think my students might find interesting.  However you use the News widget, there are some basic techniques to keep in mind when writing a post.

  1. More color is not always better.
  2. Use consistent fonts and font sizes.
  3. Break up text into sections and lists.
  4. Insert an image to catch the eye.

Let’s take a look at the post below. It is a weekly announcement introducing a new topic. It also lets students know that the instructor is available for questions and observations on assignments from previous weeks.

Week 3 text

Week 3 Intro to Content

Yes, there is color to catch the eye and the larger in-text fonts change making keywords stand out. The topics are broken up by paragraphs. But could this be better? If so, what constitutes better?

Color and font sizes

Did you know that 1 in 12 men are colorblind (http://www.colourblindawareness.org/colour-blindness/)? Colorblindness is more common than many realize. Because of this reason, using color to emphasize important information can fail to have the intended effect. Instead, use bold and/or italics for emphasis. Why not underline? Well, these days just about anything that is underlined on the internet is a link. So unless it is actually a link, try not to underline.

Choose a font size for your paragraph text and stick with it. The standard font size in D2L is a good way to go. However, if you would like it larger, 10pt is good too. If the text gets too big, the message can feel somewhat daunting. The message below is using the default font at 12pt.

Week 3 Big text

Week 3 Intro to Content (Large Text)

H3 ScreenshotUsing Headings

Break up those chunks of text with a heading. Headings catch the eye and give you an opportunity for a splash of color and style. For instance, I’ve started using Trebuchet 12pt as my heading font. In the News Widget headings should start with the heading “H3.”


While headings cue students to what will be discussed, an image can also cue students to the type of news message . I’ve started to use icons in my D2L classes. I use a particular icon for each message type. That way when the student sees the icon, then know if it’s an intro to the weekly content, announcement, recommended video clips, etc.

Week 3 Intro to Content Message

Week 3 Intro to Content (Consistent formatting & image)


End of term announcement

Links to Videos of Interest

Links to Videos of Interest


We all have great information to tell our students. It is about coming up with a format that will get their attention and let them know of your presence. Having a consistent format and some key splashes of color and style can go a long way. Saying hello at the beginning of your major messages is also a great idea!

Did you know that you can address them by first name as seen in my third image? To do this, simply type in:
Hello {Firstname}!!
It is just that easy!

If you liked these icons, I have compiled a folder of them that PCC instructors can access on Google Drive. You can also visit Icon Archive to find these icons and more that are freely available for non-commercial use.

-Happy Posting! :) 

About Rondi Schei

As the Course Development Program Manager for Online Learning, Rondi works with faculty to develop engaging instructional materials and design high quality online courses. more »