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4 Things to Know When Using Layers in Storyline

As I talk with other Storyline users about their projects, almost inevitably the topic of layers vs slides (or sometimes vs states) comes up. There are some passionate people on both sides of the discussion. So, for the sake of those who might be wondering about layers, I thought I’d put together this list of four important things to understand when considering using layers in Storyline.

First: Layers Use the Feedback Master

When you want to change the overall look and feel of your slide layers, you should understand that they pull their formatting and design from the Feedback Master rather than the Slide Master. I would suggest adding a layout to the Feedback Master. I usually give it a pretty obvious name like “Layer Layout” or some such, just so I can tell at a glance which slides will be affected by the changes I’m making to the master.

Then when you create your layers, you can right-click on the layer, select Layout from the menu that appears and then select your Layer Layout from the options presented.


Creating a master layout for your layers means that you can keep the same font, color schemes, and design for all your layers.

Second: Layers Don’t Appear in the Table of Contents

If your course or module is designed to show the Menu (aka Table of Contents), you should be aware that your layers won’t show up there. A layer is considered part of a slide, so the slide itself is visible in the Menu but the layers are not. There could be several reasons why you wouldn’t want the layers to appear in the menu, but it should be a conscious choice to use layers and whether or not the information needs to be in the menu should factor into that choice.

Third: Layers have their own timeline

It’s important to be aware that layers don’t run on the same timeline as the slide (base layer). This can be good when you want to set a trigger to start at a certain point along the timeline of the layer. So that means that any timed event on the layer will be dependent on how long the layer has been active. This means that it may or may not be in sync with the timeline on the slide (base layer). So anything that you want to sync to the slide should be on the base layer, but anything you need synched to the other layer should be set based on that layer’s timeline.

Fourth: Controlling Layers is Different than Controlling Slides

Many course developers want the learners to be able to navigate through the course using the Next and Previous buttons. If you have placed multiple objects on a layer and you choose to use the buttons that are included natively as part of the Storyline player, you will need to configure them with different actions. If you have multiple layers you shouldn’t use the native buttons to control navigation, but instead you should create your own navigation buttons that can be used to navigate the layers.

Layers can be very useful when used properly, but, just as with any object or trigger, they should be used purposefully. They’re not the ideal solution for every situation, so consider your needs and objectives before you decide to use layers in your Storyline project.

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