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Best Practices for Research and Course Guides


Structure & Layout


This guide is for archival purposes only.

Please see the new LibGuides Best Practices guide for updated content.

Make Use of Images

Images on a page or in a particular box can serve several purposes.  They can liven up a page. They can catch the user's eye.  They can break up text.  They can provide graphical clues about content.  

It's important to adhere to copyright standards when using images.

The following are two useful guides for adding images:

Multimedia Resources

In addition to text based resources consider adding podcasts, videos and other multimedia. They can add interest and appeal to guides as well as useful information.

It's important to adhere to copyright standards when using multimedia.


Place guide boxes into two or three columns instead of one. 

Adding/Changing Columns

Put Lists of Online resources in Link Boxes Instead of Text Boxes

Link Boxes automatically arrange resources into bulleted lists.  They automatically put descriptions of the resources on a separate line or in a pop-up box (depending on the type of Link Box.)  Link boxes also make it easier to manage and edit content, to track use of linked resources, and to make global changes across multiple guides.  There are limits on the length of descriptions, but shorter descriptions are generally better and in keeping with the goal of less text-heavy guides.

Creating Links & Lists Box

Adding/Editing Simple Web Links


Every guide should be assigned appropriate tags and subjects that specify the content of the guide.

Profile Box

The profile box should only be on the “Getting Started” (Home) tab page of your guide, in the top right hand column.

The top of the profile box should read Get Help.

The profile box should include a) office address; b) email address; c) phone number; d) photo.

Setting up/editing your profile.

Keep as Much as Possible to Top of Guide

Try to have as much of the important content of the guide clearly visible without having to scroll down. Many users will only read what’s near the top of the screen. If need for scrolling is excessive, consider reorganizing the material.

Alternatively, if scrolling is needed, have a box at the top of the screen that informs the user to scroll down the page. (see this page:, as an example).


Whenever possible, links should open in a separate page.

For government agencies, large business corporations and other concerns with extensive web presences one should link to specific pages of interest rather than to the agency’s or corporation’s or concern’s homepage. This will be more helpful to the user.

Friendly URL

Every guide should be given a URL that is intuitive and easy to remember. Lower case only.