Skip to content

Use Color to Enhance Learning

by Janice Florent

abstract colorful artwork

Do you intentionally choose some colors over others because of their effect on the brain? There have been a number of studies on the influence of color on brain performance. These studies have yielded some interesting results.

Effective use of color is important and is often overlooked and under-utilized. Colors can affect mood, have different meanings in various cultures, and bring immediate things to our minds. The right color can put your students in the right mood for optimal participation.

Here is a breakdown of commonly accepted psychological effects of colors from a Using Color in Learning article:

Red is a stimulant. Red can evoke passion and excitement, increase blood pressure and metabolism. Use it to draw attention to key points, but don't overdo it as it could turn your students off. Red is a good color for pointing out things not to do.

Orange is an antidepressant. Similar to red it can be used as a stimulant. It is seen as warm and welcoming and can be beneficial when used in relation to food or creative processes. Use it to appear more personable to your students, particularly when dealing with boring content that just has to be presented.

Blue is in many ways red's counter--it lowers the pulse and encourages serenity. Use it to calm students when presenting information that may initially seem complicated or overwhelming.

Green is known to bring tranquility and peacefulness. It is seen as refreshing and is the easiest color on the eyes. Green helps to relax muscles and deepen breathing. Use it wherever you want, as much as you want. With good design, green can be a very effective eLearning color.

Yellow is a brain stimulant and promotes memory, clear thinking and decision-making. Yellow should be used sparingly as it is the harshest color on the eyes. Use it to highlight points that should be memorized or that are often forgotten in your content.

Purple is a mind-balancer that promotes good judgment and spirituality. Purple is traditionally the color of royalty. It can be used to express any number of moods depending upon the color with which it is paired (with blue it becomes calming, with red it becomes stimulating). Use it in conjunction with another color to achieve your desired mood. Purple is a very well-rounded color that could be used to express anything from lightheartedness and fun in learning to sophistication of a company or brand.

Pink is usually associated with sweetness, warmth, and energy. It’s often described as a color of playfulness and fun. Use it in your courses to convey a light-hearted or positive message. Also, consider using pink if your primary audience is women, as there is a strong correlation between this color and femininity.

Black is technically the absence of color and typically elicits feelings of power, formality, mystery, fear and sexuality. Use it for fonts. There are a lot of jazzy things you can do with font colors but sticking with traditional black is often the best choice for the bulk of text.

is technically the perfect balance of all colors and is seen as pure and clean. Use it all over. Don't be afraid of well-thought-out white space. White is also a strong color contrast choice for fonts when text is on a darker background.

Here is an interesting color emotion guide:

color emotion guide

Companies often select colors for their logos based on what the color conveys. The Hidden Meaning Behind Famous Logo Colors article explains how the main color of company logos has a serious impact on how people perceive it.

When using color to enhance learning, present content with carefully chosen colors. However, don’t get too crazy with the colors.

It is important to remember that people who are color blind cannot distinguish the differences between certain colors. Therefore, for accessibility do not use color alone to convey meaning. Also, when selecting colors, you should make effective color contrast choices to make your content accessible.

Image credits:
Image by geralt from Pixabay
Color Emotion Guide by The Logo Company from

1 thought on “Use Color to Enhance Learning

  1. Karen Nichols

    I love this posting Janice! I do intersperse color in the course, but with your guide, I'll be sure to do it more mindfully. We'll have to keep this in mind as a mini-lesson or resource for our bootcamp later this spring.

Leave a Reply

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

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.