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Best Practices for Creating Research Guides at NVU Libraries

This guide offers tips and a template for creating libguides for NVU Libraries, with the specific intent to make all libguides accessible to every student.

LibGuides or Research Guides?

LibGuides refers to the web-based software package by SpringShare.

Research Guides is a category referring to librarian-created websites that are aids for research; examples include "subject guides," "course guides," and "how-to guides." 

It is important internally that we don't confuse LibGuides (the package) with the pages created with that package, and important in communicating with library patrons that LibGuides not be used at all. (Think of LibGuides as being akin to Microsoft Word. You would never refer to a document created in MS Word this way: Just read that MS Word I sent you.)

Are they called Tabs or Pages?

For consistency's sake, call them pages. 

  • SpringShare calls them pages and so do users.

Home page

  • Better not to title it Home. Something like Getting Started or Welcome is better.
  • Start Here is good if your guide walks a user through a process. 

Naming Conventions

Use these tips for giving a short and descriptive name for pages and content boxes.

  • Avoid jargon in naming pages.  Favor action words.
  • Use specific titles in naming pages. Encyclopedias or Overview is more meaningful than Reference Tools.

  • Shorten page titles–they should clearly reflect the content in that page.

  • Use appropriate capitalization.

  • Avoid vague terms like other or additional resources..

Writing Tone Guidelines

  • Voice:  
    • Use a personal tone in writing:  the user is You; the library is We.
      • Bad:  GW Libraries provide graduate students with study spaces.
      • Good: We have Graduate Study Rooms. 
    • Use active voice
      • active voice: The library provides study spaces.
      • passive voice: Study Spaces are provided at the library.
  • Prefer context to text. We often use unnecessary words, when the meaning is obvious from context.
    • Bad: Library study rooms are available on the fifth floor.
    • Good: Study rooms are available on the fifth floor.
  • ‚ÄčAvoid jargon. Select words the patron would use.
    • Bad: The link resolver will direct you to intermediary pages with direct links to publisher and vendor-provided sites with pdf or html versions of articles.
    • Good: Click 'FindIt' to get full-text articles.

Standardized Terms

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

  • catalog not catalogue.
  • web not Web.
  • website not web site.
  • Interlibrary Loan not ILL.
  • 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.