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Research Guides Standards and Best Practices

This guide will help you create a usable, readable and well designed guide for the University of New Hampshire. It lists standards, best practices, and guidelines to follow when creating and updating guides or webpages.

Standardized Terms

It’s important that there’s standardization of frequently used terms. Some examples:

  • ebook not ebook. (E-book when used in a header or title.)
  • e-journal not ejournal. (E-journal when used in a header or title.)
  • catalog not catalogue.
  • Web not web.
  • website not web site.
  • e-mail not email (E-mail when used in a header or title.)
  • Internet / internet: Capitalize when used as a noun (i.e. "on the Internet") but not when used as an adjective (i.e. "internet resources)
  • database not research database or online database.

Examples when referring to library products or services:

  • Interlibrary Loan not ILL.
  • WorldCat not WorldCat Local.
  • research Guide not LibGuide(s). Only refer to LibGuides as the product not the content.
  • page not tab: More about this distinction on the Getting Started page.

Additional Guidelines

  • Use "we" instead of "University of New Hampshire Libraries". Personal pronouns are more scannable and reduce text size. Users will know "we" refers to the UNH Libraries.
    • Bad: "The UNH Libraries can provide patrons with access to headphones."
    • Good: "We have headphones for you to check out." 
  • Don't put opening or closing hours in your text. Hours are subject to change, and your text will quickly become out-dated. Link to the Hours page instead.
  • Don't include screen shots of our website. Pages change, and screen shots become out-dated. Provide direct links rather then showing pictures of links.
  • If a service applies to all libraries then you shouldn't need to specify in the title.
    • Good: "PHOTOCOPYING"
  • Prefer context to text. We often use words when the meaning is obvious from context.
    • Bad: "For help, contact the Research Center (email:, phone: 603-862-1544)."
    • Good: "Contact the Research Center ( • 603-862-1544) for help."
  • Don't use absolute directions/positions when referring to a specific box/column. Your guide is responsive and columns will shift around for different screen sizes. 
    • Bad: "See the box on the right for additional information."
    • Good: "Additional information can be found in the Resources box."


  • Database titles should be italicized except when used in a database asset.
  • Use the ampersand ("&") only in guide, page or box titles and never in text unless referring to a title in which it is used.

Danger Words

The following words often hint at problems:

  • digital or electronic or e-* : Patrons–especially students–expect most resources to be available on the Web.
    • Bad: "Online help is available through our chat reference service."
    • Good: "Visit our chat reference service for help."
  • library or libraries : This is the UNH Libraries Research Guides site, so visitors will assume you are talking about the UNH Libraries and their resources.
    • Bad: "Find this book in the library catalog."
    • Good: "Find this book."
  • clarify buildings, branches, and campuses as necessary.
    • Bad: "Study rooms are available in the library."
    • Good: "Study rooms are available in Dimond, EMCS, Chemistry, and Physics libraries."
  • University of New Hampshire or UNH
    • Bad: "UNH Libraries' xxx Program"
    • Good: "xxx Program"
  • most or some : be specific and include links to help user navigate
    • Bad : "Guest printing is available in most libraries."
    • Good: "Guest printing is available except in X library."