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LibGuides Standards and Best Practices

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Editorial Guidelines

Best Practices for Research and Course Guides

Standardized Terms

It’s important that there’s standardization of frequently used terms. Some examples:

  • e-book not ebook. (E-book when used in a header or title.)
  • e-journal not ejournal. (E-journal when used in a header or title.)
  • catalog not catalogue.
  • web not Web.
  • website not web site.
  • e-mail not email (E-mail when used in a header or title.)
  • Internet / internet: Capitalize when used as a noun (i.e. "on the Internet") but not when used as an adjective (i.e. "internet resources)
  • database not research database or online database.

Examples when referring to library products or services:

  • Interlibrary Loan not ILL.
  • WorldCat not WorldCat Local.
  • research Guide not LibGuide(s). Only refer to LibGuides as the product not the content.
  • page not tab: More about this distinction on the Getting Started page.

Additional Guidelines

  • Use "we" instead of "the Boston College Libraries". Personal pronouns are more scannable and reduce text size. Users will know "we" refers to the Libraries.
    • Bad: "The Boston College Libraries provide patrons with access to iPads and laptops."
    • Good: "We have iPads and laptops for you to check out." 
  • Don't put opening or closing hours in your text. Hours are subject to change, and your text will quickly become out-dated. Link to the Hours page instead.
  • Don't include screen shots of our website. Pages change, and screen shots become out-dated. Provide direct links rather then showing pictures of links.
  • If a service applies to all libraries then you shouldn't need to specify in the title.
    • Bad: "Photocopying (ALL LIBRARIES)"
    • Good: "Photocopying"
  • Prefer context to text. We often use words when the meaning is obvious from context.
    • Bad: "For help, contact the library systems group (email: library-systems@bc.edu, phone: 617-552-4582)."
    • Good: "Contact the library systems group (library-systems@bc.edu • 617-552-4582) for help."
  • Don't use absolute directions/positions when referring to a specific box/column. Your guide is responsive and columns will shift around for different screen sizes. 
    • Bad: "See the box on the right for additional information."
    • Good: "Additional information can be found in the Resources box."

Danger Words

The following words often hint at problems:

  • digital or electronic or e-* : Patrons–especially students–expect most resources to be available on the Web.
    • Bad: "Online help is available through our chat reference service."
    • Good: "Visit our chat reference service for help."
  • library or libraries : This is the BC Libraries Web site, so visitors will assume you are talking about the Libraries and their resources.
    • Bad: "Library study rooms are available on the fifth floor.
    • Good: "Study rooms are available on the fifth floor." 
    • Bad: "Find this book in the library."
    • Good: "Find this book."
  • Boston College or BC
    • Bad: "BC Libraries xxx Program"
    • Good: "xxx Program"
  • most or some : be specific and include links to help user navigate
    • Bad : "Guest printing is available in most libraries."
    • Good: "Guest printing is available except in X library."

Formatting

  • Database titles should be italicized except when used in a database asset.
  • Use the ampersand ("&") only in guide, page or box titles and never in text unless referring to a title in which it is used.