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Video tutorial best practices

Things to Remember

Start with an outline, if necessary, then create a script and storyboard. The storyboard can be a simple slide show, but shot lists are helpful for videos with visual complexity. 

Identify your target audience and write for that audience.

Videos should be less than 5 minutes long OR timestamped at different concepts. 

  • The ratio of written words to spoken language is approximately 130 words to one minute. When writing your script, you can use Word’s built-in word count tool to keep track. 
  • MediaSpace offers a tool to break a video into chapters, or you can organize shorter chunks of your video into a playlist. 

Adhere to the GT Editorial Style Guide

Write in second and first person. The audience is always you. The Library organization is always us/we.  

Do your best to keep jargon out. Even the simplest library terms are opaque to our audience e.g., journal, article, ILL, database. You can use jargon so long as you quickly define it, and it is meaningful within the video.

Read the script out loud to find issues with flow.

If you are actively demonstrating something on screen with screen capture, don’t talk over it – talk before it and after it. 


After identifying the discrete tasks or learning outcomes for the video, it’s time to write the script. Identifying your core audience is an essential part of this process. The core audience will determine the granularity of steps needed to accomplish a task, the level of expected, any pre-existing knowledge, and level of complexity of the language used. Consider the factors of intended use and physical space as well. Some further questions to consider:

  • Is the audience someone trying to complete a task within the library building?  
  • Are you expecting this video to be part of flipped classroom where you will further interact with the students?
  • Is this information the user would seek out, or is this information they are being assigned to learn? 

Try to put yourself in the mind of a user who has not faced this task before. For example, a Georgia Tech faculty member will have used databases, the Canvas LMS, and the library catalog. However, you can assume that they may not know all the database licensing terms, how to embed a library subscribed video in Canvas, or specialist techniques in the library catalog. You will not need to explain what a database is to a faculty member, but you may need to point out just how much data can be downloaded from the Web of Science database in a single session.  

Chunking Information

Break down your longer video concept into meaningful segments of content. This is easier for some topics than others. Chunking helps the user retain information past the end of the video. Just as a phone number is easier to remember than a string of seven digits, grouped concepts are easier to remember than a list of unprioritized facts.

Some videos must be longer than five minutes for coherency. Not everyone can replicate the effective instruction model of LinkedIn Learning, which is many chunked videos in a long playlist. Timestamping, therefore, is an important step in longer content. Let the user navigate to the essential point they might need or let them review a concept a second time with relative ease.