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Making LibGuides

How To Make Good Research Guides

Use Simple Names

Pages, tabs, and headings should be brief. 

Avoid redundant information. The Pratt Institute Libraries logo, search box, and navigation bar are on every page of the website. We should name things plainly and avoid long titles that are hard to scan.

Here are some examples:

  • Bad: "Digital Images of Unicorns at the Pratt Institute Libraries" 
  • Good: "Unicorn Images"
  • Bad: "Doing Research on Hand Puppetry"
  • Good: "Hand Puppetry"

Don't repeat titles in headings on the same page. If your page is named Unicorn Images, don't put "Unicorn Images" in the title of every sub-box on the guide page. This is harder to scan, but is also redundant and time consuming for users with screen readers.

Write Clearly

Adapted from

  • Use the words your users use. 
    Library jargon is necessary sometimes, but we should use plain language wherever possible. This makes things easier to find for our users.
  • Chunk your content. 
    Chunking makes your content easier to scan by breaking it into manageable sections. For us, this means using lots of boxes and headings!
  • Front-load the important information.
    Use the journalism model of the “inverted pyramid.” Start with the content that is most important to your audience, and then provide additional details.
  • Use pronouns.
    The user is “you.” The library is “we.” This creates cleaner sentence structure and more approachable content.
  • Use active voice
     “The library provides research guides for patrons” not “Patrons have access to research guides that are provided by the library.”
  • Use short sentences and paragraphs.
    The ideal standard is no more than 20 words per sentence, five sentences per paragraph. Use dashes instead of semi-colons or, better yet, break the sentence into two. It is ok to start a sentence with “and,” “but,” or “or” if it makes things clear and brief.
  • Use bullets and numbered lists.
    Don’t limit yourself to using this for long lists—one sentence and two bullets is easier to read than three sentences.
  • Use clear headlines and subheads.
    Be short and specific. Use the "&" instead of "and" in titles.

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