Skip to Main Content

CIST-605: Information Sources and Services: Research Guides

Getting Started with LibGuides

Tools for getting started in LibGuides

Guidelines

Alt text

Alt text is a way to label images, and it's especially important for people who can’t see the images on our website. Alt text should describe the image in a brief sentence or two.

  • Add alt text all non-decorative images
  • Don’t include “image of” or “photo of”
  • Leave alt text blank if the image is purely decorative

When you upload a new image to Drupal (library.albany.edu), you will be required to add Alt text to save it to the system. This Alt text will then "stick" to this image and you won't have to worry when you insert it into your page or other pages.

LibGuides and other platforms do NOT require Alt text, so you will have to remember to add it on non-Drupal platforms.

For more on how and why to use alt text, check out the Accessibility Cheat Sheet

Buttons

Buttons should always contain actions. The language should be clear and concise. Capitalize every word, including articles. It’s OK to use an ampersand in button copy.

Standard website buttons include:

  • Sign In
  • Sign Up Free
  • Register Today
  • Email Us

Dropdown menus

Use title case for menu names and sentence case for menu items.

Descriptive Links

see Links

Forms

Form titles should clearly and quickly explain the purpose of the form.

Use title case for form titles and sentence case for form fields.

Keep forms as short as possible.

Only request information that we need and intend to use. Don’t ask for information that could be considered private or personal, including gender. If you need to ask for gender, provide a field the user can fill in on their own, not a drop-down menu.

Headings and subheadings

Headings and subheadings organize content for readers. They should include the most relevant keywords and cover/highlight the main point(s) of the page.

Headings and subheadings are written in sentence case. Avoid using end punctuation except for question marks or when a heading is two or more sentences.

Organize headings and subheadings hierarchically, with headings first, followed by subheadings in order.. (An H2 will nestle under H1, an H3 under H2, and on down.)

  • Headings (H1) give people a taste of what they’re about to read. Use them for page and blog titles.
  • Subheadings (H2, H3, etc.) break articles into smaller, more specific sections. They give readers avenues into your content and make it more scannable.

Tip: LibGuides and LibAnswers have H1/H2 built-in so you don't have to worry about them. Use H3 for your content sections.

Links

Provide a link whenever you’re referring to something on an external website. Use links to point users to relevant content and trusted external resources.

⊗ Don’t include preceding articles (a, an, the, our) when you link text. For example:

If a link comes at the end of a sentence or before a comma, don’t link the punctuation mark.

Be descriptive. Don’t say things like “Click here!” or “Click for more information” or “Read this,” "Learn more."  Write the sentence as you normally would, and link relevant keywords. 

⊗ Don’t use generic link labels

  • For more information on our food and drinks policy, click here.  
  • Read more about this project.

⊗ Don't: use “naked” link labels

Links should look different than regular copy, strong text, or emphasis text. They should have a hover state that communicates they’re interactive, and should have a distinct active and visited state. When setting the hover state of links, be sure to include focus state as well, to help readers using assistive technologies and touch devices.

⊗ Don’t set links to open in a new window.
Links open in the same window by default. In the majority of cases, the behavior should not be overridden to have links open in a new window. Setting links to open in a new window may cause accessibility issues and eliminates the ability of users to control the activity.

Lists

Use lists to present steps, groups, or sets of information. Give context for the list with a brief introduction. Number lists when the order is important, like when you’re describing steps of a process. Don’t use numbers when the list’s order doesn’t matter. Be consistent.

If one of the list items is a complete sentence, use proper punctuation and capitalization on all of the items. If list items are not complete sentences, don’t use punctuation, but do capitalize the first word of each item.

 

PDF

Use PDF only for documents that users will print. 

PDF causes usability issues including:

  • accessibility issues
  • jarring user experience
  • unnavigable content, text-heavy
  • PDF are not optimized for browsers or mobile devices (sized for paper, not screens)

You may want to consider:

  • Including a short summary of the PDF file so that users can assess whether they want to go to the trouble opening it.
  • Clearly warn users that they'll be opening a PDF file. You can also state the file's page count and download size.
  • Creating PDFs that are short and navigable. Users often do not want to print long documents (sustainability)

Reference Style Guide   (PDF)

Reference Style Guide   (PDF, 5 pages)

Reference Style Guide   (PDF, 5 pages, 2MB)

Reference Style Guide    This resource provides a summative overview of style guides including what a style guide is and suggestions for exploring style guides across the disciplines. (PDF, 5 pages, 2MB)


Learn more:

Nielsen, J., & Kaley, A. (2020). Avoid PDF for On-Screen Reading. Nielsen Norman Group. https://www.nngroup.com/articles/avoid-pdf-for-on-screen-reading/

Nielsen, J., & Kaley, A. (2020). PDF: Still Unfit for Human Consumption, 20 Years Later. Nielsen Norman Group. https://www.nngroup.com/articles/pdf-unfit-for-human-consumption/

In my search I didn't see a great use case to Embed a PDF directly on a webpage. Has anyone else seen a good case? LP

Radio Buttons

Use title case for headings and sentence case for button fields.

Titles

Titles organize pages and guide readers. A title appears at the beginning of a page or section and briefly describes the content that follows. Titles also tell search engines what a page is about, and show up in search results.

Titles are written (you guessed it) in title case. Don’t use end punctuation in a title unless the title is a question.

Videos

Videos may be embedded on a web page.

When embedding a video:

  • Give users control over the video (no auto-play). Allow them to make the decision of what to watch and when.
  • Let users know what to expect, provide context around video content

Don't rely on video to convey information. If users aren’t able to access the content or simply don’t want to, they should have the ability to collect information in another way. 

What else - suggestions about embedding vs linking out? LP