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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.

Content styling

  • Don't use color as a way to convey meaning or importance. Colorblind users and screenreaders may not pick up on color changes.
  • Don't mix different font types. Stick to the default font. 
  • Avoid changing the font size unless you have good reason. If you need headers within a text box, use Heading 3 and above in the rich text editor, or use <h3> and above tags in the HTML.
  • Underlining text that is not a hyperlink is best avoided as it causes confusion.
  • Use bold or italics in the rich text editor (or <strong> or <em> tags in HTML) to indicate emphasis. Use these tags sparingly. 
  • When using HTML, avoid older-style bold <b> or italics <i> tags as they denote style rather than importance.
  • Avoid relying on non-HTML content that may not be accessible, like PDF or PowerPoint documents.


Use rich text Headings as indicators for sections and sub-sections in your guide. This not only provides heirarchical organization and formatting but also makes it easy for screen readers to scan and jump to different content areas.

  • Screenshot of the Headings dropdown.Never use Heading 1 (<h1> tag in HTML) in your guide as this should only be used once for the entire page.
  • SpringShare uses Heading 2 for box titles so only use Heading 3 (<h3> tag in HTML) and below in rich text boxes.
  • Higher numbered Headings should be placed above lower numbered ones otherwise your heirarchy gets confused.


Screenshot of table properties menu in LibGuides.
  • Only use tables for tabular data that fits well into rows and columns.
  • Don't use tables to format links or other information. 
  • Use table headers to describe the contents of the table columns.
  • Avoid spanned rows as screen readers may not properly parse them.
  • Tables have special styling to make them work well with responsive design. No need to manually change the table's width or cell padding in LibGuides.

Here is an example default 2x2 table with a header created within the rich text editor.

Header A Header B
cell A1 cell B1
cell A2 cell B2


  • Make sure link and database assets display their description below the link. Don't hide the description behind a hover-over button as this breaks accessibility. Screenshot showing the Description Display option to choose, which is Display beneath item title.
  • Break up long list of items into logical groups so that it can be skipped by screen readers.
  • Make sure linked text makes sense out of context. Ambiguous phrasing obscures what the link is about.

Copying & Pasting

Take caution when copying & pasting content from any source. Many times hidden style code will also be copied along that could break with best practices and introduce inaccessible content.

There are a few ways to avoid hidden style code from being placed into your guide. The rich text editor has a few useful tools to use. Screenshot of rich text editor toolbar. Focus on buttons used for removing hidden formatting from text

  • Button to use for removing hidden styles from copied text. This button will show a popup box that will strip out all text formatting and leave behind plain text. Best for simple text.
  • Button to use for leaving the original formatting as in the Word document. This button will show a popup box that will keep a lot of the original formatting from the Word document source. This is also the default behavior when pasting directly into the rich text editor. This does not follow best practices so try not to use this feature unless you plan to go through the source and clean up the formatting by hand!
  • Button to use for removing all formatting from selected text in the rich text editor. This button will remove all formatting from selected text inside the rich text editor. This will generally solve strange formatting issues you may find from copied text. This button will also remove hard-coded widths from tables that may overflow your guide.


  • All Images need to have Alternate text (ALT tags) included. You can check this by double-clicking the image when in the rich text edit mode.
  • If the image links to a resource make sure the image ALT tag also describes the destination. Screenshot of how to add alternative text to an image within the rich-text editor.