Skip to main content

Designing Online Tutorials

Designing Online Tutorials

Planning Model

Screencast Process

Tips for Designing Screencasts

We are recommending Camtasia as the QUL approach to making video screencasts and tutorials. It offers closed captioning, editing of voice and call-outs, and branding for QUL.

Screencasts are useful for skill-based content. Multi-part tutorials, which may include screencasts, readings, and activities are better for complex content.


  • Use a chart to map actions on the screen against narrative. Rehearse!
  • List learning outcomes on a slide but do not read them. Alternatively, say them to save time as part of the introduction. Content should be planned around these outcomes.
  • Include standard QUL branding to open and close the screencast.

Pace and Length

  • Keep introductions very short. Students often leave tutorials by the half-way point. Place the most important ideas first.
  • Speak slightly more slowly than normal. Use a conversational style.
  • Keep videos 1-3 minutes long.


  • Design from the journalistic persepctive of the "inverted pyramid": most important information first followed by contextual information.
  • Don't aim for entertainment value.
  • Introductory and closing music and professional graphics do focus attention.
  • Provide the content in separate written format for those who prefer to read it.
  • Add captions to meet accessibility standards.
  • Minize memory load: focus on key ideas and stick to learning outcomes; follow Mayer's design principles; activities should be easy to understand and complete; do not include material that is distracting; use visual and verbal cues to focus atention (e.g. arrows, circles, title screens between sections)


  • Create tutorials that are born digital.
  • Provide closed captioning and an alternate format such as the script of the video content.

Queen's University Library Staff

For step-by-step instructions on creating screencasts at Queen's University Library, please refer to: