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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Getting Started with LibGuides

This is a help guide for University Library staff in best practices for creating LibGuides.

Design Your Guide Layout

Your LibGuides site supports responsive design. This means your guide will appear differently across various devices. Attention should be paid to where content is placed in your guides because it will get rearranged to suit the screen size of the user. 

When viewing a Tab layout guide on small devices:​

  • 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 viewing a Sid-Nav 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

how tab layout and side-nav layout resized on smaller screen

Image left: how Tab layout resized on smaller screen. Image right: how Sid-Nav layout resized on smaller screen.


  • 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.
  • When using Side-Nav layout, limit the box(es) you add underneath the navigation in the left column so that readers will focus on the main content in column 1.
  • 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.
  • View your guide on multiple screens (or resize your browser window) before publishing.
    • To check mobile look while on explorer: Right Click on page> inspect> element> emulation> mode> windows phone
    • To check mobile look while on Chrome: right click on page> inspect> click on second icon from the top left (phone/tablet icon)

Design Your Guide Content

Be Concise & Well-Organized

Less is more. Users are often better served by content that is concise as opposed to exhaustively thorough.

  • Keep it simple. Use short sentences and short paragraphs.
  • Use meaningful section headings to split content up into readable length.
  • Use bulleted lists or numbered lists (when information is sequential) to group related information in chunks and make it easy to skim.
  • Resources listed in order of importance rather than alphabetically, as students tend to use the first resources listed.
  • Keep lists of resources short – maybe to the top five key resources featured prominently. One may also consider breaking long lists of resources into different link groups based on similar content type.

Consider Your Users

Most content should be geared towards our users, not ourselves. Think about what tasks your users need to do and how your content can help them do that.

  • Use plain language (avoid jargon, slang, idioms, and acronyms; use common words over more difficult ones; use active voice; it’s ok to address the user as “you”).
  • Don’t bury the lead. Put the most important information at the top of the page.
  • Provide a clear “call to action.” If next steps are needed, don’t bury them as links in the middle of a paragraph – separate them out to draw attention to them.
  • Be inclusive: use gender-neutral terms; use B.C.E. and C.E. instead of B.C. and A.D.

Make It Easier to Find

  • Make sure guide and page titles provide context. Keep the titles short, descriptive and consistent.
  • Add subject and include keywords using tags. 
  • Use friendly URLs. Friendly URLs increase the usability of guides, as patrons are more likely to remember and reuse a guide if the URL is short and easy. Best practice for new guides is to create a friendly URL using the guide’s title.

Be Selective & Future-friendly

Creating and maintaining high-quality content can be time-consuming. Do your future self a favor and consider whether your decisions will cause more work than is necessary in the future.

  • Focus on creating content that only the library could provide. Remember that any page you create will need to be maintained regularly in the future so be selective about what you choose to create.
  • Avoid providing content through a linked PDF (that is hard to update).
  • Use language that won’t need updating. For example, instead of “The new classroom will become available in September 2015” say “As of September, 2015 the classroom is available…”

Read more

Refer to Content Style Guide prepared by Suzanne Chapman for guidelines and best practices on library web content style.

Tools & Resources

Web Design

Writing for the Web