Web Content Style Guide

Why use this guide

At Temple University Libraries we want the content for our websites, social media, marketing pieces, and other materials to be reliable, understandable, and memorable.

The Temple University Libraries website is reliable, easy to use, and accurate. It exemplifies the principles of user-centered design, and users consistently and readily find what they need. It advances our goals of discovery, information access, and quality customer service.

Who should use this guide

Anyone writing content for the web, social media, marketing and other public-facing materials (customer emails, signage) at Temple Libraries may use this guide. It should be used when authoring content for:

  • Library websites (main library site, Health Sciences Library,, etc.)

  • Library blogs

  • Library social media accounts

  • Subject, course, and topic research guides

  • LibAnswers FAQs


Some of the content of this guide was taken, with permission, from:

Write for your readers

Keep in mind that there is no typical Temple University Libraries’ patron. The Library community represents a diverse group of users with varying research skill levels. Please keep this in mind when you are writing content for the website. Some, but not all patrons, could fall under the one or more of the following categories:

  • Undergraduate students

  • Graduate students

  • Alumni

  • Faculty

  • Staff (including hospital/clinical staff)

  • Visiting scholars

  • Community members

  • People with advanced research skills/People with no research experience

  • People with advanced web skills/People with no web experience

  • Some people might have extensive research skills but little web experience, or vice versa

  • Users with visual, hearing, motor, or cognitive impairments

What Goes Where

Primary Content Management System (main website)

Content includes: Primary content about services, policies, spaces, buildings, and staff.

Description: Content is created by staff from units across the libraries, overseen by site editors, and centrally managed by the Web Administrative Team. Blogs, social media sites, Confluence, and the LibApps suite should not be used in lieu of the primary content management system.

Blogs (Wordpress) & Social Media

Content includes: Ephemeral content such as Temple University Library news, new acquisition announcements, or long form posts that share views or updates on a topic related to libraries generally.

Description: This content may be topical or published periodically on a monthly/bimonthly schedule.


this section will be updated as content is moved to Microsoft Sharepoint

Content includes: Internal and staff-focused content. Examples include:

  • Work spaces for strategic steering teams, cross-departmental working groups, project committees, library units, departments, and other groups.

  • Documentation for processes, internal staff policies, etc.

  • Directory and index to statistical and assessment data about library and university.


Subject, course, and topic guides as defined in the LibGuides standards. Before creating a research guide, you must submit a request to author a guide to the LibGuides Review Team. LibGuides content is created by individual guide authors and managed by the LibGuides Review Team.

LibGuides A to Z Databases List

Standard descriptions of databases managed by Acquisitions staff.


Answers to frequently asked questions about library spaces and services, step-by-step instructions for systems, and most “how do I” type content as defined in FAQ standards. LibAnswers content is created by individual authors and managed by the the LRS Virtual Reference librarian in concert with the LibAnswers administrator (currently head of LRS BSSE unit). Examples include:

  • Find Articles by Citation

  • Find Textbooks

  • How do I print in the Library?

  • How do I check out a book?

Content Guidelines


Write for all readers. Some people will read every word you write. Others will just skim. Help everyone read better by grouping related ideas together and using descriptive headers and subheaders.

Focus your message. Create a hierarchy of information. Lead with the main point or the most important content, in sentences, paragraphs, sections, and pages. Place the essential information at the top of the page.

Be concise. Keep your sentences short and clear.  Avoid unnecessary modifiers. Cut the fluff.

Be specific. Avoid vague language.

Be consistent. Stick to the style points outlined in this guide.

Voice & tone

Aim for consistent tone that is friendly, conversational, and direct. Avoid overly formal and academic language.

Use the active voice. Words like “was” and “by” may indicate that you’re writing in passive voice.

Avoid: Study rooms can be reserved by students at Charles Library.

Use: Reserve a study room for your group at Charles Library.

Use “we” and “you” when referring to the Libraries and your audience respectively.

We can help you find relevant resources.

Use the Library Search to start your research.

Text Formatting


  • In general, format content for scannability. Generally, for web content, someone who is scanning a page should be able to find what they need quickly without reading each word.

  • Break up long descriptive content into small chunks so that it’s easier to understand, e.g. short 2-4 sentence paragraphs or bulleted lists.

  • Organize content in a logical structure, starting with the information or links that the user needs most.

  • Use headers and subheaders to organize your content and guide your reader through the page.


Headings provide a structure and help organize the the content of your page.

H1 should be the page title and displayed in title case–each word is capitalized, as in

Computers, Printing, & Technology

H2, H3, etc., should be sentence case—only capitalize the first word and proper names, as in

Borrow a laptop

Charge your device

Make headings parallel in structure. For example, use nouns, questions, or active verbs, as in

Pay your fines

Renew your books

Group content logically. There can be more than one of each heading type, e.g. if there is another group of content on the page with equal weight as the first H2 heading, use another H2 heading. Any groups of content under an H2 heading should use descending order of heading, i.e., h3, h4, h5, h6. Likewise, any groups within lower headings, such as an h3 should follow the descending order of headings.

Use ampersands instead of spelling out "and" in headings

Organize & cite your sources

Never create your own headers using bold or italics or ALL CAPS. Use a heading style such as H1, H2, etc. as described above instead.

Never end a header with a period or a colon; the only time you should end a header with punctuation is if it is a question with a question mark.


Use lists when possible to help break up page content. Use numbered lists for steps in a process, such as instructions, otherwise use bullets.

To avoid plagiarism, you must give credit whenever you:

• use another person's idea, opinion, or thought.

• use any information that isn't common knowledge.

• quote or paraphrase another person's actual spoken or written words.

How do I enable Course Reserves in Canvas?

1. In Canvas, click on Settings in the left-hand menu.

2. Click on the Navigation tab.

3. Click on the gear to the right of Ares and select Enable.

4. Click Save.

5. Contact Reserves at preserve@temple.edu or 215-204-0744 for help.

Abbreviations & jargon

Avoid abbreviations and acronyms unless preceded on the page by full title and acronym in parentheses, e.g. Special Collections Research Center (SCRC), American Library Association (ALA), etc.

Avoid: If we don’t have what you’re looking for, use ILL.

Use: If we don’t have what you’re looking for, use Interlibrary Loan (ILL) to request books from other libraries.

Avoid unnecessary library jargon and technical names

Avoid: You can access full-text PDFs from library vendors through Primo.

Use: You can find articles online through the Library Search.

Other tips 

  • Use only the default style text provided in the content management system.

  • Clear the formatting when you paste text from one application to another.

  • Don’t use ALL CAPS.

  • Bold and italicize content sparingly, e.g. bold a word, phrase, or even a short sentence, but not an entire paragraph).

  • Don’t underline text as it can confuse users to believing the content is linked.

  • In most cases, text should be aligned left, not centered, aligned right, or justified.

  • Use just one space after a period, not two.

  • Tables should be used for tabular data, not for page layout. If you need additional layout options for your content, contact your site editor or the Web Admin Team.

  • When writing out an email address or website URL, use all lowercase. Do not use Accessnet usernames (tue, tug, tuj, etc.).



Spell out numbers zero through nine. Use Arabic numerals for 10 and above, except when the number is the first word in a sentence, as in

We've published more than 1,600 titles in the past five decades.

Ten people enrolled in the course. Last week, 13 students attended the meeting; two 18-year-olds left before adjournment.

Use Arabic numerals for

Phone numbers

Use parentheses for the area code and dashes between the latter parts of the number. Do not use the intercampus phone system abbreviations (e.g., 1-2345, 2-3456, 3-4567).

(215) 123-4567

Link telephone numbers for mobile with tel: syntax

Monetary units

Use numerals when referring to money. For cents or amounts of $1 million or more, spell the words cents, million, billion, trillion etc., as in

$26.52, $100,200, $8 million, 6 cents


Spell out the day of the week and abbreviate the month, unless you’re just referring to the month or the month and the year. Do not use ordinals (e.g. January 24th)

Saturday, Jan. 24

Saturday, Jan. 24, 2015

January 2015


Use numerals with the hour and minutes followed by a lowercase “am” or “pm”

8:00 am – 2:00 am

Institutional branding

Use first-person plural (we, us) to create a conversational tone.

If referring to the organization more formally, use one of the following:

Temple University Libraries (conjugate verbs as singular noun, as in

Temple University Libraries cares about your privacy.

Secondary reference: the Libraries (conjugate verbs as plural noun, as in

The Libraries are committed to making course texts affordable.

Sometimes the singular word library is used when discussing a specific building or using the word as an adjective, as in

Library hours

Library resources

Health Sciences Libraries

Temple University Libraries & Temple University Press

Locations & collections

If referring to a specific location or collection more formally, use:

  • Ambler Campus Library

  • Charles Library

  • Charles E. Krausz Library at the Temple University School of Podiatric Medicine (or Podiatry Library)

  • Charles L. Blockson Afro-American Collection or Blockson Collection

  • CLA Ed Tech Library

  • Loretta C. Duckworth Scholars Studio or Duckworth Scholars Studio

  • Simmy and Harry Ginsburg Health Sciences Library (or Ginsburg Health Sciences Library)

  • Japan Campus Library

  • Presser Listening Library

  • Remote Storage (not Library Depository or Kardon)

  • Rome Campus Library

  • Special Collections Research Center


Use standardized names of library services and locations, and avoid acronyms and technical jargon when possible. Examples include:








Automated Storage & Retrieval System (BookBot)

ASRS, Bookbot

Course Reserves

Course Reserves


Drop-in Research Help

Drop-in Research Help
Talk to a librarian or subject expert

Ask a Librarian

Interlibrary Loan

Interlibrary Loan
Interlibrary Loan (ILLiad)


Library Search

Library Search

Primo, Blacklight, Catalog

One Stop Assistance desk

One Stop Assistance desk
One Stop

One Stop Assistance Desk, OSAD

Research Guides

Research guides
Subject guides

LibGuides, libguides

Other commonly-used terms

Use standardized versions of commonly-used words to create greater consistency. Examples include:

  • ebook (not e-book)

  • online journal (not e-journal or ejournal)

  • email (not e-mail)

  • homepage

  • instructor (only use faculty when you are talking about faculty)

  • librarian or subject librarian (not liaison or subject liaison)

  • web (not Web)

  • website (not Website)


Link to a service when you mention it using a stable URL.

You can book a group viewing room to watch reserve DVDs and VHS tapes.

Make link text meaningful. Users should know where they are going when they click a link.

Avoid spelling out the URL (except in print pieces and social media)

Avoid: Try the Library Search: library.temple.edu.

Use: Try the Library Search.

Don’t use generic link labels. Any links should make sense if the linked text is read by itself. Screenreader users may choose to read only the links on a web page. Make sure linked text makes sense out of context. Ambiguous phrasing obscures what the link is about. Avoid extraneous phrases like “click here” or “follow this link.”

Avoid: Go to this US Government source for comprehensive homeowner data by clicking here.

Use: The US Government provides comprehensive homeowner data.

Don’t hyperlink extraneous words, such as articles (a, an, the), around links.

Avoid: Find out more about the Libraries’ upcoming events.

Use: Find out more about the Libraries’ upcoming events.

List of Committee and Organization Names to use in Website Profile “About Me”

Professional Organizations

American Library Association (ALA)

Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL)

Library Committees

Library Staff Council

Administrative Council

Library Leadership Council


Library Departments