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General - Read This First

  1. Anything not mentioned hasn't been tested. If you do want to use something that isn't mentioned, please email Magen Bednar first!
  2. Screen reader order: Screen readers will go through all boxes in the first column then all boxes in second column, rather than reading boxes left to right.


One of the first things you will want to do when creating a new guide is make sure the guide has a friendly URL. To do this:

  1. Find the guide URL near the top of the page (on the same line as Last Updated and Type/Group).
  2. Click the Edit Guide URL link (pencil icon).
  3. Type the name of the guide (or a shorter name if the guide name is very long) in all lowercase letters with dashes instead of spaces. For example, Digital Accessibility would become digital-accessibility.
  4. Click Save.
  5. You will also want to modify the individual URLs for each page, as described in the Pages section further down.

Guide Navigation Layout

To access the guide navigation layout settings:

  1. Click on the Guide Layout dropdown button (has an "image" icon).
  2. Choose Guide Navigation Layout.

Make sure the settings are as follows:

  1. Do show all subpages in side navigation. If you use subpages and do not have this option selected, the dropdown menus that will be created are currently not very accessible.
  2. Do not show box-level navigation for selected page. This option does not work properly for two-column pages: Only boxes are the first column are actually included. As long as the guide has at least one two-column page, this should be avoided (you cannot pick and choose which pages it will be applied to). If the guide has no two-column pages, you can choose this setting if you think it will be helpful.

Screenshot of the guide navigation layout settings.

Using the Side Column

Only put contact information and quick links in the side boxes (below the navigation), as that is how this region of the page will be identified to screen readers. Contact info includes profile boxes, so this is a great place if you want to include a profile box on each page of the guide. The homepage for Subject Guides is the only page that requires a different location for your profile box. See the Subject Guide Standardize Homepage Layout section for more information. 

  1. If including quick links, put them in a box titled Quick Links.
  2. If no box titled Quick Links is included, the region will be identified as contact information.
  3. If a box titled Quick Links and any additional box(es) are included, the region will be identified as quick links and contact information.
  4. If the only box in the column is titled Quick Links, the region will be identified as quick links.

Guide Type

All of OU Libraries' LibGuides are called "research guides." Please assign one of the following categories (LibGuides guide types) to each of your guides: subject guide, course guide or topic guide. Assigning guide types allows users to find guides easily on the OU Libraries' Research Guides homepage.

Subject Guides

Subject guides provide detailed information about a particular discipline or topic. For users to find guides by subject category, you must add a subject category to your guide. If the subject you need is not listed as a subject in LibGuides, then you'll need to email Magen Bednar, who will consult the liaison librarians about adding another subject option.

  1. You should choose Subject Guide when your intended audience is an academic department and not a specific course or assignment. 
  2. Assign at least one subject to all subject guides. Feel free to assign more than one if multiple apply. This will make it easier for users who may not be sure which subject to look up.
  3. Subject guides will have a standardized homepage to create uniformity for the user.
Subject Guides Standardized Homepage Layout

Subject Guides will be the only guide type to require a standardized homepage layout. The content on the homepage should not require scrolling past the length of the librarian’s profile box. 

  1. Column 1 
    1. The first box in Column 1 will be the Getting Started box (highlighted by the orange arrowhead with lines) with a description of what is included in the guide with a subject related photo below the description (highlighted by the red arrowhead with triangles).
    2. Branch librarians can use the Getting Started box to showcase their branch library with a photo and link to the branch library’s website. Remember to hyperlink name of your branch library and limit additional text in this area. 
  2. Column 2
    1. Your profile box must be added as the first box in Column 2 (highlighted by the green arrowhead with circles).
    2. Your profile box must include a photo of yourself. 
    3. After you add your profile box to Column 2, you must update your profile Box Name to your job title or to indicate that they are the librarian for a specific department or college.
      1. To do this, click the pencil icon on your profile box and update the Box Name. This must be done on the individual guide and not on your LibApps profile. 
  3.  Optional Content
    1. Related Guides listed under Getting Started box (highlighted by the pink arrowhead with squares).
  4. Side-Nav Column
    1. Please use this area only for additional contact information such as links to the academic department's website. See the Using this Side Column section (above) for more information. 

Screenshot of the standardized homepage layout for Subject Guides.

Course Guides

Course guides are designed for specific classes and are often developed in collaboration with the instructor.

  1. You should choose Course Guide when your intended audience is a specific course or assignment. 
  2. Assign a course guide to a subject category.
  3. Guide names should follow the naming convention below:  
    1. Course Code — Course Name (Instructor Last Name, Semester)
    2. Instructor Last Name and Semester are optional. 
    3. Examples of acceptable names for course guides:
      1. HIST 1483 — History of the United States: 1492-1865 
      2. HIST 1483 — History of the United States: 1492-1865 (Spring 2016)
      3. HIST 1483 — History of the United States: 1492-1865 (Smith, Spring 2016) 

Topic Guides

Special topic guides are focused on broad topics of academic interest and not a specific academic department or course. Examples include open access, financial aid literacy, and data management. 

  1. You should choose Topic Guide when your intended audience is not a specific academic department or course. Choosing "Topic Guide" from the Guide Type dropdown list will make sure your guide will appear in "Browse by Special Topic" list
  2. Assign a special topic guide to a subject category if applicable. Most special topic guides are not assigned subjects. 


  1. Do not redirect any of the guide pages. Every link in the navigation should be to a page within the guide. Having pages in the navigation redirect is unexpected behavior, may cause problems for some users, and can be difficult to clearly indicate.
  2. Avoid using page description. This element only appears on hover, making it inaccessible for many users.
  3. Ensure page titles are useful and accessible. For example, don't write page titles in all caps, and make sure special characters will be read appropriately by screen readers.
  4. Create friendly URLs for each page added to the guide (the default Home page will also need one).
    1. Make sure you have created a friendly URL for the guide itself. LibGuides will not allow you to change a page URL if you have not changed the guide URL.
    2. Find the Page URL just above the guide navigation.
    3. Click the Edit Page URL link (pencil icon).
    4. Type the name of the page (or a shorter name if the page name is long) in all lowercase letters with dashes instead of spaces, as described above in the Guides section. For nested pages (subpages) you may want to put the name of the top-level page first. For example, the URL for a page named Text that is a subpage of a page named Content might be content/text instead of just text.
    5. Click Save.
  5. The names of pages should be succinct yet descriptive
  6. Limit the number of pages to prevent information overload and clutter.
    1. If you have numerous pages, consider creating another guide or consolidating content on the pages 

Please note that Discussion and Blog pages have not been tested and may not be accessible


  1. As with page titles, ensure box titles are useful and accessible. These titles will provide a heading structure that can be used for navigation.
  2. Note that box titles use heading level 2, which is why headings within boxes will always start at level 3.
  3. If you have an empty box acting as a placeholder, remember to set it to draft mode so that people using the guide will not be confused. (Boxes in draft mode will not be included on the public page at all.)

Profile Boxes

Setting up your profile box, is done through another SpringShare tool called LibApps. You can get to LibApps from the back end of LibGuides by opening the blue LibGuides dropdown menu in the upper left corner of your screen and then clicking on LibApps.

Floating Boxes

When you create a new box or edit an existing box, you can check the Floating Box checkbox. This will remove the border and automatic title from the box. If you do this for all boxes on a single-column page (except for any contact information in the side column), the page will look less boxy and more like a typical website, which some users may prefer.

The titles of floating boxes are not included in the actual guide content. This means that floating boxes need to start with level 2 headings so that users still have a useful heading structure for navigation.

  1. Add a Rich Text / HTML item as the first thing in the floating box.
  2. Choose the Italic Title option from the Block Styles dropdown to create a level 2 heading (since there is not a Heading 2 option in the Paragraph Format dropdown. Keep in mind that while the heading will look italicized in the rich text editor it will look normal on the page itself.

If seeing the title in italics in the rich text editor really bothers you, you can select the text and click on the Remove Format button (just after Strikethrough). This will remove the italic formatting without affecting the heading level.

Tabbed Boxes

Tabbed boxes have been redesigned to meet the WAI (Web Accessibility Initiative) design pattern for Tabs for accessibility.

  1. Never make a tabbed box a floating box. If any other boxes on the page are floating boxes, the tabbed box will automatically convert itself to match on the public-facing page, but it needs to start as a normal box in order to use the box title as a label for the tab list.
  2. Make sure the box title serves as a sensible label for the tab list. It will be presented as the tab list label to screen readers.

Gallery Boxes

Only use these for images. Other options have not been tested/modified for accessibility.


  1. Automatically Play: Off.
  2. Show Dots: Off.
  3. Other settings have not been tested for accessibility. The defaults should be fine.

Links and Images

  1. If you want to make one the images a link, do not include a slide title. LibGuides creates two separate links rather than combining the two, which is not good practice for accessibility. As a workaround, you can add a title as a heading (level 3) in the rich text editor.
  2. Refer to the Images general accessibility guidelines for creating accessible alternative text.