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Distance Learning | School of Professional Studies | Northwestern University

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SPS DL Graphics Library

Having a course that’s well stylized isn’t only important for the course itself, but can also be helpful for the students. Banners, for instance, can help the students navigate the course and fill in areas that are solely text. Icons can also be useful when you need to emphasize a certain piece of information, when you want to punctuate a new section of a page, or if it brings added value to a section. Finally, when banners or icons don’t convey your content, you can use custom graphics options to create infographics, charts, maps, and more.

When to use?


  • Banners are best used at the top of pages to set the tone for the content. You can use stylized quotes, a banner saying the topic for the week, or even using a banner to say the course title.


  • Icons are best used for splitting up sections of a page into smaller bits of information. If your page has an overview, learning objectives, and multimedia, headers will help for accessibility, but icons can help visually punctuate a separate section.

Custom Graphics

  • When banners and icons don’t do the trick for you to convey a message, custom graphics are always an option. If you can imagine what you want to be conveyed, we at SPS Distance Learning can probably draw it up.

Additional Resources

  • Be sure to check out the Images Best Practices page for more information.
  • How to embed images into Canvas pages. This can be used for banners, custom icons, and custom graphics that you create outside of Canvas.
  • Writing alt text for images. Alt text is used whenever you insert a non-decorative image in order for screen readers to describe the content of the image to a visually impaired student. This also helps for organizing your information.
  • Using the Canvas Styleguide: Icons. This post shows you how to add in icons to a canvas page.
  • Visit the the Accessible Images page for additional information about writing alt text and creating concise images for use online.
  • One thing to be sure of when building out your course site is that the images are not copyrighted. Check out the Copyright page for more information.
  • You can create custom infographics for your course by using Piktochart. You can learn more about Piktochart here.