OSCQR – Standard #18

OSCQR – Standard #18

There is enough contrast between text and background for the content to be easily viewed.

Review These Explanations

Low contrast between text and background on computer screens and mobile devices can decrease readability and inhibit learner success in an online course. (Mayer, 2014). Simply put, if learners are not able to easily read the course content, they may not succeed.

Low contrast leads to increased visual complexity which makes it harder for the brain to process information (Harper & Michailidou, 2009).

Be mindful of the devices that learners will use to access the online course, and the font colors that you choose to incorporate on any page. Empirical evidence shows that dark colored text on neutral light backgrounds work best. (Duebel, 2003)


Deubel, P. (2003). An investigation of behaviorist and cognitive approaches to instructional multimedia design. Journal of Educational Multimedia and Hypermedia, 12(1), 63-90.

Harper, S., Michailidou, E., & Stevens, R. (2009). Toward a definition of visual complexity as an implicit measure of cognitive load. ACM Transactions on Applied Perception, 6(2), 1–18.

Refresh Your Course with These Ideas

General Suggestions

  • Refrain from changing the color of text in your course, unless you are sure that the colors you choose have a high enough contrast and are not distracting.
  • Use an online accessibility checker for recommendations on your selected text colors.
  • Be consistent. If you change the color of a heading, for example, be sure to reflect that in other headings in your course.
  • Avoid using multiple colored text on one page, unless you intentionally want to highlight something.
  • Remember that some learners are color blind. Sticking to very dark greys and black will be your safest bet.
  • Changing the color of links on a page may confuse learners. Be sure that link colors are consistent throughout the course.

Explore Related Resources

Kelly, R. r. (2012). Course Page Design Tips. Online Classroom, 12(6), 2-3

Share What You Know

OSCQR has been developed by a community of online practitioners interested in quality course design. There are numerous opportunities for community members to offer suggestions, donate resources, and help with future development.

Discuss this standard in the comments section at the bottom of this page.

Contribute your own ideas or refresh resources by filling out the OSCQR Examples Contribution Form.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *