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LibGuide Design: Best Practices and Guidelines

This guide is designed to provide guidance on making LibGuides more useful, accessible, and relevant to users through best practices that incorporate usability and web design.

Accessibility Guidelines

Creating more accessible web content will make your guides more usable for everyone. This list includes some basic guidelines for making sure your LibGuides content is more user-friendly.


  1. Use clear fonts and don't mix different font types. It is recommended that you use the LibGuides default font, but if you change fonts, select a font that is easy to read online.
  2. Use emphasis - bolding, italicizing, and changing the color of text - sparingly. 
  3. Don't use all caps for emphasis. This can cause difficulty for users of screen readers.
  4. Don't use underlines for emphasis. Users will think an underline is a hyperlink.
  5. To make text larger, use headings rather than increasing the font size.
  6. Don't rely on changing text color to emphasize text. Color won't be useful for all users, and is usually unavailable to screen reader users.
  7. If you change your font color, make sure there is a strong contrast between your font and the background.

Headings and Lists

"Headings, lists, and other structural elements provide meaning and structure to web pages. They can also facilitate keyboard navigation within the page" (WebAIM: Principles of Accessible Design).

  1. Use the Rich Text Headings to provide structure for your text and to make it easier for users to navigate your page.
  2. Your LibgGuide Box titles use Heading 2, so when using Rich Text headings, start with Heading 3.
  3. Higher level Headings should be placed above lower level ones otherwise your hierarchy gets confused. Here is an example:
    • H3
      • H4
      • H4

Images, Videos, and Links

  1. Include descriptive and appropriate alt text (ALT tags) for your images (see the Using Images tab on this guide for how-tos). 
  2. Don't use an image is the subject of the image is just text.
  3. Provide captions and/or transcripts for videos.
  4. Make sure your linked text makes sense out of context. Avoid using words or phases like "click here," "more," or "click for details" in front of links.


  1. Avoid using tables for layout purposes whenever possible.
  2. Use tables mainly to display data that fits well into rows and columns.
  3. Tables that are used to organize tabular data should have appropriate table headers (the <th> element).
  4. Add table caption and summary to provide more information about the table for screen reader to pick it up.
  5. Avoid spanned rows as screen readers may not properly parse them.

This list is adapted from WebAIM’s Principles of Accessible Design (linked below) This list does not present all accessibility issues, but by addressing these basic principles, you will ensure greater accessibility of your LibGuides content to everyone.


Accessibility Checkers

The following sites are useful when checking the usability of your webpages.

Resources on Accessibility

Online Guidelines


WSU Resources for Students & Instructors

WSU Libraries, PO Box 645610, Washington State University, Pullman WA 99164-5610, 509-335-9671, Contact Us