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LibGuides Toolkit: Create New Guide

What is a Guide?

Guides are like mini-websites on a topic. They can be as large or small as you need them to be, based on the content you need to share. (Of course, just because they can be large, that doesn't necessarily mean they should be. ;)

You can have as many guides in your LibGuides site as you like, so don't think one has to do it all! In fact, it shouldn't. As guides grow, they become more complex, which can make it more difficult for your users to navigate them.

Best Practices:

  • Create focused guides.
    Meaning stay focused on a topic, a course, an assignment, an outcome (like finding grants), etc. Customers have found focused guides to be their most successful guides. If you find your guide getting unwieldy - you have a bazillion pages and are wishing for sub-sub-pages, for example - maybe it's time to break it up. Narrow the focus of your guide and create a separate guide with the other info.
  • Reuse!
    You can reuse guides from your own system or from the larger LibGuides community, so take advantage and make it easier to create! Set up guide templates, peruse the Best of site for guides you can freely copy, find inspiration in the community and ask permission to copy someone's guide. The possibilities are there - take advantage! Check out Using Guide Templates & Learning from the Community for more on general concepts, and Creating a Guide from a Template for the "how to" piece.
  • Guide Names & Descriptions: Keep it simple
    Keep guide names to the point and descriptions focused; use language your users would use vs. jargon (unless they'd use the jargon, too - then that makes total sense ;).
  • Use Friendly URLs
    Make it easier to share URLs for your guides and have folks remember them with Friendly URLs. For example, the original URL for this guide was:
    Adding the friendly URL of creatingguides makes the URL:
    Way easier to remember!

Guide Structure

You can think of guides like Matryoshka dolls.

Guides are the largest, outermost Matryoshka doll - they contain all of the other dolls, or in this case, pages, boxes, and content.

Pages are the 2nd Matryoshka doll. They provide structure to your guide and the content within it.

Boxes are the 3rd Matryoshka doll. They contain the actual content you want to share. There are 4 different types of boxes in LibGuides:​​

  1. General: used most of the time, general boxes can contain text, links, databases, books, etc.
  2. Tabbed: similar to General, except you can create multiple tabs within the box, each of which can house its own content items. (It's like an extra Matryoska doll within the box!)
  3. Gallery: displays images, which rotate within the box.
  4. User Profile: displays any user's profile in your system. This is the only type of content this box type displays.

Content items are the smallest of the dolls. They include text, links, databases, books, videos, widgets, RSS feeds, polls, etc.

guide can contain many pages, a page can contain many boxes, and a box can contain many pieces of content.

Creating a Guide from Scratch

Create Guide:

Creating a guide from scratch simply means that, if you use the standard template, there will be no content in the guide when it is created. You'll start out with one default page that has your profile box on it...your imagination takes you from there.

You also have the option to select a customized template, if your site's admin has created any. If they have, you should make sure you understand what template should be used for new guides, because which one you select may depend on the type of guide you're creating.

  1. Get to the create guide screen.
    From the Home / Dashboard page, click Create Guide in the LibGuides Shortcuts box.
    Or go to Content > Guide Index and click the + Create Guide button at the top of the page.

  2. (LibGuides CMS Only) Select a Group Assignment, if you'd like this guide to belong to a group. (You can add / change this later.)
  3. Start Fresh is selected by default - leave this as is.
  4. Click the Select a template... dropdown and choose which template you'd like to use.
    Not sure? Ask your site's admin! :)

  5. Fill out the rest of the form:
    • Guide Name & Description:
      Remember, keep these short & to the point!
    • Password (LibGuides CMS Only):
      Only folks who know the password will be able to access the guide; you can add / change / remove a password later, if you choose.
    • Guide Type:
      Select the type of guide; default is "General Purpose". This aids users in browsing through guides on the public side.
      Note: Internal Guides are only viewable by users who have accounts in the system.
    • Button to Restrict Sharing:
      Change this to Enabled if you do not want this guide indexed in the Community site / if you do not want others to be able to copy it in any way (including your colleagues).
  6. Click Create Guide.

Copying an Existing Guide

Creating a new guide by using an existing guide as a template has a couple more steps than creating one from scratch, but is just as easy!

Get to the create guide screen.

  • ​​From the Home / Dashboard page, click + Create Guide in the LibGuides Shortcuts box.
  • Or go to Content > Guides and click the + Create Guide button at the top of the page. 

Choose Layout or Reuse:
Start Fresh is selected by default - selec Copy content / layout from an existing guide instead.

  • Choose Local Guides (your guides & your coworkers' guides) or Community Guides (searches all LibGuides v2 sites) to narrow your search.
  • Click in the "Select a guide" box and start typing the name of the guide.
    (Or you can add the guide's URL.)
  • Select the guide from the search results.
  • Reasons why a guide might not appear:
    • Sharing Guide Content is set to No (if an internal guide) or Internal (if Community).
    • The guide is not Published (if Community).
    • It's a v1 guide - you cannot copy v1 guides into v2 systems (or vice versa).

Fill out the rest of the form:

  • Guide Name & Description:
    Remember, keep these short & to the point!
  • Password (LibGuides CMS Only):
    Only folks who know the password will be able to access the guide; you can add / change / remove a password later, if you choose.
  • Guide Type:
    Select the type of guide; default is "General Purpose". This aids users in browsing through guides on the public side.
  • Share Guide Content:
    • No: No one can reuse this guide, either in our outside of your system.
    • Internal: Can be reused within your system, but not outside of it.
    • Community: Can be reused in any v2 system.

Reusing Guides

Reusing guides makes guide creation faster! :)

  • Using Blueprint Guides Creates Consistency:
    Following a blueprint guide creates consistency across your guides, which means your users will have a consistent experience. A very important factor for success.

    This could mean using a blueprint guide created by your system's admin or simply copying another guide in the site, which will bring over all of the style and content from that guide.
  • Ease of Creation - why reinvent the wheel?
    You may find a guide you love the look or layout of, or a guide author who did such an incredible job explaining something that you can't imagine providing any other information, so instead of reinventing the wheel, you reuse the guide as a basis for your new guide.

When you use a template / existing guide to create a guide, an replica* of the guide is made - from pages to page layout to content on the page, it's all there.

Once it's created, you can then edit your copy, tailoring it to the topic of the guide.

* Database descriptions will come from the description in the Database Manager, custom database descriptions will not copy over.

Guide Reuse Options

This section is for the "Copy content / layout from an existing guide" option on the Create Guide screen.
It is not about using a template created by your site's admin when using the "Start Fresh" option.

You have two options when reusing guides:

  1. Reusing a guide created within your site (either one of yours or one of your colleagues').
  2. Reusing a guide created by anyone else with a LibGuides site.

Of course, there are a few things to keep in mind, especially if you want to reuse a guide from a different LibGuides site.

  • You may want to check in with your LibGuides administrator / working group to see if templates have been set up for your site, and if so, which one to use for what purpose.
  • If it's from a different LibGuides site, you must ask that person permission to use their guide before you copy it into your system. Why?
    • Well, it's just the right thing to do - it's professional courtesy.
    • They will be notified when you copy the guide into your system, so they're going to find out one way or another.
    • Their content may fall under some regulations from their institution with regard to intellectual property, so they may require you to add a note to the guide about where the original came from in order to grant permission to copy it.
    • They may let you know about copyright permissions they had to obtain in order to use certain images, videos, etc., in their guide. You would need to obtain the same permissions.1
  • If the guide you want to use is on our Best of LibGuides site2, you do not need to ask permission - we already have! If it's on the Best of site, permission has been granted. Just check to see if attribution is required - it'll say on the page in the Best of site.

1 It is the responsibility of the guide author(s) / library to determine if the content they're adding to their guides is copyright compliant.
2 Forthcoming for LibGuides v2.


All the instructions and images on this page come from Springshare.  Please visit the website for more information.