Create worksheets: layout, structure, basic design

An excellently designed and clear worksheet triggers interaction among your seminar participants. With it, the tasks can be recorded quickly and clearly. This will give your participants the desire to work on the tasks. In the end, they have a concrete result in their hands.

But how do you manage to develop a worksheet that makes the work of your participants easier? What material and what content do you need for this? What should you pay attention to when designing your worksheet?

I will show you in this article:

What are worksheets?

Worksheets are a great way to add interest to tutorials and workshops.

With a worksheet, you offer your participants an additional working and learning tool. In this way they deepen what they have learned and at the end receive a concrete result or a solution.

What do you need for your worksheet?

Fast, crisp information: Your participants want to know about the most important tasks within a very short time. But before you start designing your worksheet, research and write all the content.

Specifically you need: Logo, font and color (= corporate design), texts as well as images or graphics.

Corporate design (logo, font and color)

Use your logo, your fonts and colors and design your worksheet in a uniform look. This not only increases your recognition value, but also creates credibility and trust.

If you haven’t yet decided on a company font or color, find one or two fonts and a main color and an accent color. Everything should fit your business and your target audience.

A notice: When sizing your logo, make sure it’s easy to see. If your logo has a subline, it should be legible.

contents

A worksheet stands and falls with its content: What content is important for your participants? What information should you highlight? Which ones can you leave out?

By answering these questions, you determine right from the start which content and information will be particularly emphasized later in the implementation.

What should you pay attention to when it comes to layout and design?

Design helps you emphasize important content and guide your participants’ eyes through the worksheet. With a few basic things you can make your design unique:

Writing

Fonts trigger emotions. If you want to use different fonts, they should not be too similar. For example, fonts with and without serifs harmonize very well with each other.

My recommendation: Use a maximum of two fonts. These should match your appearance and your target audience. An older target group has different requirements than very young participants.

You will get suggestions and inspiration for good typeface mixtures Google Fonts and mixfont.

layout

The line length in your worksheet determines the readability of your text. Lines that are too long make it difficult to read and strain your eyes. The smaller the font, the shorter the lines should be.

The solution for lines that are too long: multi-column layouts. Structuring texts in two or more columns shortens the line length considerably.

pictures

Use pictures on your worksheets that match the content and the task and ideally complement them. Use images judiciously and don’t use them purely as a design element or to fill empty space.

You can find beautiful and free images, for example, in these 15 free image databases.

A notice: Before you use images – whether from image databases or other sources – read the license agreement. Make sure that you are allowed to use the images for your own purposes. This way you avoid trouble or even a warning.

Colours

The coloring affects the atmosphere of your worksheet. Spice up your content with color. For example, always use a color for marginal notes or for headings. Make sure there is sufficient contrast. If you have a dark background, use light font.

As with the fonts, limit yourself to a maximum of two or three colors. Use your corporate colors to consistently pull through your appearance.

distances

Empty space, also known as white space, creates enough space for your text and graphic elements. Make sure your logo isn’t on the edge and the headline isn’t stuck directly to the text. Spacing between elements makes it easier for the eye to grasp which pieces of information belong together.

How do you structure your content clearly and concisely?

You structure content using paragraphs, subheadings, numbering and listings. You guide your participants through the content with the help of font size, color and weight. This is how you manage to bring important elements to the fore in a targeted manner.

If your worksheet has different tasks or subtasks, make it clear where a task begins and ends. If you want to separate the tasks from the rest of the content, add separators or a new heading.

If the task needs important additions, then visually separate it from the rest of the task – for example with a box or a colored background.

To include general information on your worksheet, create a header and a footer. In the header area, for example, there is space for information on the topic and task of your worksheet. In the lower area, page number, logo and internet address.

motivation and validation

You can give your participants additional motivation, for example, with a simple progress bar in the header of your worksheet. Colored to contrast with the rest, it lets your participants see the progress they have made. This provides confirmation and keeps them on the ball.

What design program are you using to create your worksheet?

When choosing the right software, it is important to know what you want to do with it. Do you want to implement all documents for your company yourself in the future? Design your own social media graphics? Design your own letterhead? Or do you just want to try something once? Do you also have enough time to independently familiarize yourself with a still unknown software?

In the following, I will introduce you to free and paid programs and online tools that you can use to create your worksheets.

Canvas

With Canva you can create beautiful designs for your worksheets, social media graphics, flyers or simple brochures.

Canva is an application in the browser. You don’t load a program onto your computer, you design online. You create an account and after registering you can start designing immediately. You don’t need a lengthy training period because Canva is a simple and intuitive tool.

Canva is available as a free version and for a fee in the “Canva for Work” business model. There you pay $12.95 per user per month (May 2019). You have the option to test it for free for 30 days.

Due to the great popularity of Canva, there are countless and very helpful tutorials on the net.

Adobe InDesign

My clear favorite for all layout work. The program is versatile and offers you numerous opportunities to implement ideas and designs – a recommendation for non-graphic designers as well.

Adobe InDesign is perfect for making different documents for your business uniform. The advantage for you is that you can make your work easy: you create templates once and use them again and again.

In this mini tutorial, I’ll show you how to create your worksheet with Adobe InDesign in nine steps.

Your advantage: You can test the program for 30 days free of charge and then use it for a monthly fee of €24.00 (May 2019). This gives you enough time to get to know the program. With targeted training, you will quickly learn how to use InDesign tools correctly.

Microsoft PowerPoint and Word

Other programs you can use to design your worksheets are Microsoft PowerPoint and Microsoft Word.

Both are not classic graphics and layout programs. Nevertheless, simple worksheets can be created with it. They can be used intuitively and, in addition to writing and formatting texts, also offer numerous options for graphic design.

Which (online) program you use depends on your preferences and knowledge. If you have enough time to familiarize yourself with a tool or new software, it is worth getting started with Canva or InDesign.

What mistakes should you avoid?

Large images and areas of color

If you offer your worksheets as digital downloads on your website or in your course, make sure that you only use as many large-scale images and design elements as necessary.

Imagine that your participants want to print out your worksheet at home on the printer. Large images and areas of color waste a lot of printer ink. Keep this in mind as you develop your worksheet. This saves your participants money and nerves.

It is of course something else if you make your worksheets available in offline workshops in already printed form. Then you can fall back on such design elements.

Too many design elements

Too many design elements bring unrest! A simple and structured design helps your participants to quickly grasp all content and clearly separate it from each other.

No clear structure

Avoid overwhelming your participants with too much information. This is detrimental to clarity and demotivating. You lose the desire to edit the worksheet. Use short sentences, different emphasis of headings and texts. In this way you can ensure that your participants can concentrate fully on the tasks without being distracted.

No information about the company

The worksheet name, your name, and your website should be on each page. I also recommend working with page numbers if your worksheet spans multiple pages.

Because here, too, it can happen that the pages get mixed up when printing and editing. In order not to lose track, page numbers are very helpful for your participants.

No clear call to action

Your participants have completed the worksheet and are wondering: what should I do next? If you have further information for them, then include a call, for example “Learn more now” or tell them to contact you, call you … etc.

It is important that you only communicate one action at the end so that your participants know exactly what the next step is.

Conclusion

As you can see, designing attractive worksheets for your workshop is not a big hurdle. You support your participants in their learning and help them to solve the tasks with motivation. You leave your workshop satisfied. And they tell enthusiastically how much pleasure he gave them and what positive successes they have achieved as a result.

What experiences have you had with worksheets in workshops? Write it to me in the comments.

Manuela Aksu Manuela is the founder of Kreativcode and a passionate graphic designer from Munich. On her blog she shares her knowledge about graphic design and gives you useful and easy-to-implement tips that you can use immediately for your business.

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