How to Create a Digital Story

"Digital Storytelling takes the ancient art of oral storytelling and engages the palette of technical tools to weave personal tales using images, graphics, music, and sound mixed together with the author's own story voice."-Bernajean Porter, Digitales.

Telling a digital story successfully depends on one's ability to plan the process first. Compiled below are several step-by-step methods, website links, and article abstracts that will guide an individual through the digital storytelling process.


PART ONE: Define, Collect, Decide
1. Select a topic for your digital story.

2. Create a folder on the desktop where you can store the materials you find.

3. Search for image resources for your story, including: pictures, drawings, photographs, maps, charts, etc. -Save these resources in your folder.

4. Try to locate audio resources such as music, speeches, interviews, and sound effects. -Save these resources in your folder.

5. Try to find informational content, which might come from web sites, word processed documents, or PowerPoint slides. -Save these resources in your folder.

6. Begin thinking of the purpose of your story. Are you trying to inform, convince, provoke, question?


PART TWO: Select, Import, Create
1. Select the images you would like to use for your digital story.

2. Select the audio you would like to use for your digital story.

3. Select the content and text you would like to use for your digital story.

4. Import images into Photo Story (Note: Photo Story is free software available for download and use on Windows XP computers from Microsoft).

5. Import audio into Photo Story.

6. Modify number of images and/or image order, if necessary.


PART THREE: Decide, Write, Record, Finalize
1. Decide on the purpose and point of view of your digital story.

2. Write a script that will be used as narration in your digital story AND provides the purpose and point of view you have chosen.

3. Use a computer microphone and record the narration of your script.

4. Import the narration into Photo Story.

5. Finalize your digital story by saving it as a Windows Media Video (.wmv) file.


PART FOUR: Demonstrate, Evaluate, Replicate
1. Show your digital story to your colleagues.

2. Gather feedback about how the story could be improved, expanded, and used in your classroom.

3. Teach your colleagues how to create their own digital stories.

4. Congratulate yourself for a job well done!


This above how-to method of creating a digital story is available at The above list provides a broad description of the methods involved that acts as the foundation of a digital story.

"Enter Here: Personal Narrative and Digital Storytelling" by Sara B. Kajder provides an insightful firsthand account on creating a digital story and its processes. Available in full text through UIUC's OPAC, Kajder establishes six steps of digital storytelling from her experience and the methods that was incorporated.

Accessible through TechSoup at, Brian Satterfield provides a Good Tools, Best Practices Eight Tips for Telling Your Story Digitally. Some tips include respecting copyright laws as well as using free or low-cost software to create a digital story.

Dusti and Deanne Howell provide some useful tips in their article "What's Your Digital Story" available through This article provides several broad suggestions to help get a digital story started by following the K.I.S.S principle (Keep It Simple to Survive).

This digital storytelling website provides a more software oriented approach. Using the software, Movie Maker, a detailed laden methodology provides the user with a guide that lists each step involved.

Digital Storytelling: Creating an eStory by Dusti D. and Deanne K. Howell provides a thorough how to guide for multiple software media. The book includes a step-by step methodology for the following software programs: Kid Pix Delux 3, Pinnacle Studio, Microsoft PowerPoint, Adobe Premiere, and Macromedia Flash. Each chapter contains an introduction to the software, materials needed, a look at the completed project, how to get started with a storyboard, building the project, adaptations and extensions, resources, and a glossary. Visual snapshots of the software screens are also incorporated into each chapter as a guide that a story maker may follow. Also provided are tips to creating a better digital story and a storyboard template.


Tools/Media available for use in digital stories:

(Note: the following list is from Bristol Stories' Resources page


Sounds: - Searchable sound effects site. Samples are free to use for non-commercial purposes. - Searchable sound effects site. The creator of each sound must be credited and a login is required (BristolStories has an account you can use).


Pictures: - Searchable photo download site. Restrictions apply to some images. - A searchable selection of pictures from the Flickr site which can be used as long as the photographer is credited. - A selection of pictures than can be used as long as they are credited to the photographer and your story is licensed under the Creative Commons "Attribution-ShareAlike" licence.


Music: - Wide range of music available for download and licensed under the Creative Commons "Attribution-ShareAlike" licence.


Moving image: - A collections of moving image, sound and images, some of which is freely available for re-use. Check before downloading; if you cannot find any rights information, assume you do not have permission. - You can search for CC-licensed moving image media from the Creative Commons site. - A collection of archive film material made available free by the British Film Institute for non-commercial use.


Maps: - Large UK map images from the Ordnance Survey maps showing county boundaries or just the outline. The images are for non-commercial use only and the Ordnance Survey must be credited.

World map jpeg image - A basic line drawing of a world map. The size is 6264 x 4161 pixels, so it is suitable for cropping, colouring and retouching. Right-click on the World Map link and save the file.


Software for digital storytelling:

•iMovie is included with Apple OS X

•MovieMaker is included with Windows XP

•Microsoft Photo Story (see is free for Windows XP and newer.

•InAlbum ( is a slideshow maker for older versions of Windows, available as a free or shareware version.

•Audacity ( is a sound editor with versions for Apple OS X, Windows and Linux.

•Gimp ( is a free image editing program for Linux, Unix, Windows and Apple computers.

•Upgrading QuickTime player to QuickTime Pro (see enables you to cut and paste different media files together and add Dolby surround sound. The current version of QuickTime is usually only available for newer Apple and Windows computers.


Useful documents for story makers and facilitators:

Bristol Stories rights information - a document telling you about Intellectual Property Rights and how they apply to digital storytelling.

Ice breaker ideas for facilitators running workshops.

Technology help and time-saving tips for digital storytellers.

•"How to become a master". People unfamiliar with the tools and techniques of Digital Storytelling sometimes think they'll never be able to understand them. This page of links will help you learn the jargon and become a Master yourself!

•"The Philosophy of Digital Storytelling" - A collection for those who want to look beyond the "Digital" and to consider the "Story"...

Bristol Stories provides a legal listing on various websites that one can copy and use in a digital story such as music, images, pictures, software, and some useful resources relating to copyright issues and tips.

Linda Joseph's article Digital Storytelling in MultiMedia & Internet@Schools is accessible through UIUC's Library Gateway at Joseph supplies a brief description of several digital storytelling tools that include the following: Apple iMovie (Macintosh OS X), Audacity (Macintosh OS X and Windows), BubbleShare, Ken Burns PBS website, Microsoft Photo Story 3 (Windows), and Windows XP: Moviemaker 2,1 (Windows).

An example of a storyboard can be found at the following

You may also access the storyboard example at


Page completed by Nicole Kaffel


Nadene Eisner
Nell Fleming
Nicole Kaffel
Janet Vogel (webmaster)

Graduate School of Library and Information Science
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
LIS 506
November 2007