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Best Practices for LibGuides

Naming Conventions

Course Guide Name

Course abbreviation (ALL CAPS) [space] Course number[colon] [space] Course Title [space] DASH [space] Instructor name***

Example: ENGL 111: English Composition - Jurgens

                ENGL 471: British Romanticism

*** Exclude the instructor's name if multiple sections are taught by different instructors but the same course guide is used. 

Subject Guides

[Subject] [space] Resources
Ex.: Sociology Resources
Film Studies Resources

Navigation style - side menu

For most LibGuides, side navigation is encouraged as it makes it easier for users to navigate the guide. 

Selecting the Layout for a new Guide

To create a new LibGuide with side navigation, select the System Default - Side Nav Layout from the template options on the screen where you create and name your new guide: 

LibGuides templates menu

Changing the Layout of an Existing GuideLibGuides Navigation selections

To change the navigation in an existing guide to side navigation, open the guide you wish to change (and make sure you're logged in). Go to the top right corner of the screen and click on the Guide Layout icon (it looks like a small rectangular picture) and select Guide Navigation Layout from the available options.

This will open a pop-up window where you can change your template from tabbed layout to the side navigation layout: 

LibGuides template choices


Important Note: Changing navigation styles will automatically re-order the boxes on your guide, but not necessarily in the way you would choose. When you change your navigation to or from Side Nav, you will want to re-order the boxes on your guide so that they are in an order that makes sense.

Guide Type

Besides assigning Subjects to your guide to facilitate discovery, you should also select an appropriate "guide type" for it. This will aids users in browsing through guides on the LibGuides home page. See definitions of different guide types below: 

  • Subject/Topic Guide: guides that help users get started on a particular research subject or topic. (Note: this is the default option.)
  • Course Guide: guides specifically designed for a class.
  • Internal or Template Guide: guides that are made for training, posting internal documentation, or collecting linked assets/content items. Internal or Template guides are only viewable by users who have accounts in the system.

Box Types

There are a variety of box types that can be used when developing a guide. Some of these types include:

  • Rich Text/Dynamic Content/Scripts
  • Tabbed Boxes
  • Simple Web Links
  • Books from the Catalog
  • Google Scholar Search Box

More information about different box types and how to utilize them can be found on the following websites as well as many others:

Friendly URL

In general, most URLs produced by LibGuides include a series of letters & numbers that don't make much sense to the human eye. Friendly URLs make it easier for people to remember URLs, and they tend to look nicer when people are viewing your pages.

You can assign friendly URLs to:

  • Entire guides
  • Individual pages of a guide
  • Databases

When creating a friendly URL, please use the following best practices for web authoring and Search Engine Optimization:

  • Typically use lower case
  • Keep URLs brief (less than 60 characters)
  • Keep URLs semantically accurate (when cited, URLs become anchor text)
  • Keep URLs relevant to page content
  • Avoid using stop words and conjunctions (Examples: and, but, of, the)
  • Consider using keywords
  • Consider matching the URL to the page title
  • Hyphenate (-) separate words when necessary for human readability (Example: best-practices)
  • Do not use underscores ( _ ), spaces (which translate as %20), slashes (/), hashtags (#), or other characters to separate words (Note: Slashes and hashtags have specific meanings in HTML and can generate conflicting code when used out of context)
  • Do not overuse hyphens (-)

Responsive Design

LibGuides are made with responsive design. This makes it easier for users on phones, tablets, and other mobile devices to read and use them. However, this means that we need to pay attention to where we place content in guides as it will be rearranged to suit the screen size of the user.

To see what your page looks like on different devices: 

  • right click on the preview page
  • Choose "Inspect"
  • a new window will pop up on the right hand side
  • click on the device icon 

When viewing a Side Navigation layout guide on small devices:

  • The navigation with be at top.
  • The box(es) in the left column will be second.
  • The box(es) in the column 1 will wrap around below the left column

When viewing a Tab layout guide on small devices:‚Äč

  • The tabs (navigation) will be at top.
  • The top box will be second (if used).
  • The box(es) in left column will be third.
  • Additional columns will wrap around below the top box and left column in order from left-to-right.
  • The bottom box will always be last (if used).


  • When using Side-Nav layout, limit the box(es) you add underneath the navigation in the left column so readers will focus on the main content in your primary column.
  • When using Tab layout, place your most important content in the left column or top box since this is guaranteed to always be at the top of the guide.
  • Break up content so there is a natural flow when the columns are rearranged.
  • Group similar or themed content closer together in a column so they don't get separated.
  • Test your guide on multiple screens (or resize your browser window) before publishing.

Boston College Libraries has a nice page showing how different layouts will look on different devices as well as guidance on creating pages using responsive design.

Profile Box Location

In LibGuides, you should use your public profile to identify yourself to your audience. Your profile contains a picture, contact information, web links, subject specialties and several avenues of communication. You can manage and update the information displayed in your profile by accessing the My Profile menu option from the LibApps Dashboard.

You can add quite a bit of personal information to your profile box: a picture, contact information, and even social media links and widgets.

It is recommended that you place your profile box in the right third of the home page. Placing it under the navigation tabs on the left side of the page can cause problems in mobile displays.