LibGuides Best Practices: The Basics

Tips, suggestions, templates, and best practices for creating a LibGuide.

Check for Broken Links

Broken Link

Check for broken links on a regular (suggestion:  monthly) basis.

Login to LibGuides via LibApps and click on:

Tools --> Link Checker

Database vs. Link?

Remember, instead of creating or copying a Link, select Database instead and if needed enter your own text in the Custom Description box then hit save.

This will help control the number of assets we have within the LibGuides system, and will make our global search and replace process smoother.

Basic Tips!

Remember that your guide represents the library and the university. The following guidelines are here to help you:

Please try to have at least two columns of content when you are creating a LibGuide. The LibGuide is most useful and most pleasing to the eye when two or three columns are used for content.

The default instance of any new LibGuide automatically creates a center column and a right-hand column with a space for your profile and profile photo.

Uniform Look and Feel. Strive for uniformity in the colors and basic layout of your pages. The consistency helps reinforce the idea that these are all Vanderbilt LibGuides.The default font is recommended. Please refrain from using multiple fonts within one guide.

Profile Photo. It is preferred that you use your professional head shot that is used on the library website. Alternatively, you can use a more casual library related photo, or a (copyright compliant) piece of artwork related to your subject area. .

Care with Tabs and boxes. There is no set limit on the number of boxes or tabs that you can include on a LibGuide, but lots of scrolling or clicking may interfere with usability. 

Groups and Courses


Each of the libraries that participate in LibGuides have their own group. As you create new guides, please remember to select the correct group for your guide. Central library guides will go into the Central Library group, while all purpose guides for the entire campus (i.e. Using e-Books etc.) will select Heard Library

Course Guides:

The new Research Guide landing page allows us to have a drop down menu that displays only Course Guides. We are able to do this by choosing the guide type of "course guide." As you create and edit your guides, please remember to select "course guide" if you'd like them to display in the course drop down menu, or leave them as "general purpose" if you don't want them displayed in that area.

Other Tips

Here are some other helpful hints:

  • Static Link to a Library catalog record: when in the item record within the Library Catalog, click on Permalink in the "send to" bar to generate the static link to that item record.
  • Less is more! Consider bullets, numbered lists, sub-headings, bolded key terms, and other techniques to use less text. The heavier your text load, the less likely it is that your audience will pay attention to your LibGuide.
  • Break up long lists. More than 7  resources in a single content box may be too much. Consider dividing content into more than one box.
  • Limit Scrolling.  No pages should exceed 1 1/2 screens long so users do not have to scroll to see the rest of the page.
  • Quality Images.  Use high quality images to enhance the instructional value of the LibGuide. If image quality is poor (especially screen shots), do not use.  Do not insert large images in the left column; it is too narrow. Be sure that images you use do not violate copyright or licensing agreements.
  • Care with Sub-tabs.  Be careful with the use of sub-tabs; they can be confusing to users.
  • Two columns are better than one. Long lists take multiple lines, make taller boxes, may require users to scroll. Consider a table to format into two columns.
  • Book Covers.  For Books in the Catalog boxes, get cover art from Syndetics rather than Amazon if available. Cover art from amazon links to the item on

LibGuides Help and Training Opportunities from Springshare

Ask Springshare:

Get help with LibGuides from Ask Springshare!  Browse by Topic or consult a Springboard to get up to speed.  

Each Springboard combines the best topic articles into helpful guides on broader topics such as setting up your system, creating content, and customizing the look & feel of public pages.

Upcoming Training Events from Springshare:

Consult the Springshare Events Calendar for upcoming training opportunities.


Sunset Old Guides


Research Guides are blockbusters in terms of usage, so keep them up-to-date!

If a guide was developed for a course that has not been taught in a while, make the guide private.**

Look at use statistics regularly and proactively manage your content.

**Making a guide private is preferable to unpublished.  Guides set to private will remain accessible to anyone with the guide URL (important for any guides linked to an OAK course), but will not be visible on the main Research Guides page.