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LibGuides Best Practices

General Best Practices

  • Less is More. Keep descriptions brief. Aim for fewer tabs, fewer boxes, fewer links, less text. Don't list every possible resource, keep them to the top few, or separate them into boxes such as "top picks" and "more resources".
  • Break things up. Use bullets and line breaks whenever possible. Separate long lists into multiple boxes.
  • Limit number of tabs/pages.  On course and subject guides, keep tabs to one row and avoid use of subtabs if possible.  Too many tabs overwhelm students and they may end up choosing a tab you may not intend them to be on. For instance, think carefully about labeling a tab "websites" because many students will click that because they are familiar with the term and may conflate the term with databases.
  • Sort sources by usefulness or relevance, not by alphabetical or numerical order.  Students often choose the top link, so make it the "best" one.
  • Name tabs/pages/links using words students know.  Favor action words, avoid jargon. Students also choose databases based on names, so consider adding descriptive terms to names like JSTOR. 
  • LibGuides should focus on meeting a user's information needs and be constructed around these needs whenever possible, NOT information "types" (articles, dictionaries, etc.) Example: A Business and Management guide should have a tab collocating databases that provide company information. These should not be mixed in a larger list of other databases.
  • Be as specific as possible in naming tabs with reference sources. For example, consider naming a tab "Encyclopedias" rather than "References Sources," if these source predominate. 
  • Focus source selection on electronic resources, not print items or physical objects. Users are confused by lists of print books mixed into guide that are primarily gateways to databases and catalogs.
  • Consider placing search widgets at the top of pages above long lists of links. Searchers tend to get frustrated by long lists of sources, not taking the time to browse the choices.
  • Use a table of contents on the first page to link to the pages.  That way if a student doesn't see the tabs they still get to the content.  Add an image in a table that identifies the page by the associated subject.  
  • Be consistent.  Follow the template guide as much as possible.  Keep your tabs named in the same way and in generally the same order as all other guides.

Text style

  • Paste from Word If you are pasting content in from somewhere else (a Word document, a web page, etc), use the Paste from Word icon (see image to the left) that shows up in the text editor, or fonts will paste in wonky.  If fonts still seem weird even after using Paste from Word, use the HTML edit mode to delete any <font> tags.
  • If possible, avoid changing the font size or font family in a guide. If you have concerns about the default font size or style, we can discuss changing the site-wide default.  Use other methods of emphasis (see below).
  • When aligning a photo around text, consider using tables to place space between the text and the image.  For example, create a two column, one row table with the image on one side and text on the other.
  • Avoid underlining text that is not a hyperlink or email address. Use italics or bold instead.
  • Bold text should be used sparingly. Avoid bolding entire paragraphs or groups of sentences.
  • Red text should be used only in those rare instances where a word or sentence requires urgent attention. Avoid coloring entire paragraphs or groups of sentences with red text.
  • Italic text is used as an identifier to bring out a line of text. Use it only when you need to add emphasis to a specific word or group of words.
  • Avoid ALL CAPS.  Use Title Case for headings and sentence case for full sentences.
  • Use headings (click on format in the text editor) to denote different sections in a text box.


Images can be a nice way to add visual interest to your guide, break up text, and provide illustration of a concept.  HOWEVER, try to keep images relevant to the text and follow usability/accessibility best practices.

When adding/uploading/using images in LibGuides, follow these recommendations:

If you don't know how to re-size images ask someone on the library web team for assistance.
Licensing by KerryJ
Creative Commons by-nc
Recommended photo editors are:
  • Picmonkey (free, web-based, no account required)
  • Aviary
  • Picassa (downloadable program)
  • Google Plus: Click on a photo in your account and then click on "creative kit" to launch web-based editor.
Jing makes good screen captures, or, on a Mac, click Command Shift 4
PowerPoint can be used to make images with text overlay, just save it as an image and upload.