Springshare’s Libguides have become an integral part of our work as librarians, and although we’ve all come to accept certain best practices in their creation, there’s still the matter of making well-presented information look good. Miyo Sandlin, Digital Services and Instruction Librarian at St. Francis College, recently revamped the library’s APA Style research guide with an eye towards usability, aesthetics, and style.
We recently redid our entire library website because we had to upgrade from v1 to v2 of Springshare’s LibGuide platform. I decided this was an opportunity to redo our APA Style Guide. Not only was our previous APA guide dense and wordy but most of it was just copied and pasted from Owl at Purdue’s website (with attribution of course). Often I would just end up sending students straight to the OWL website. I realized however, that one of the issues of relying so heavily on a citation guide put together by another institution, is that their citation guide is not tailored to our student’s needs. For example one of the most common questions I get is, “How do I cite a website?” however this citation style is listed on the OWL website as a “nonperiodical web document or report” and is buried halfway down the page on “Electronic Resources” making it easy for students to miss. The OWL website is also incredibly thorough, listing almost every kind of reference imaginable. Normally I would consider this a plus but I think it also has the potential to overwhelm students. I wanted our citation guide to focus on the most popular citation questions OUR students asked for.
One of the things I did was take advantage of the ability to jump to specific boxes within a page using the new side-navigation layout in Springshare’s v2 LibGuide. You don’t have to scroll down a long list of examples, instead you can click on your resource type (e.g. “Book with no author”, “Book with one author”, “Book with Multiple Authors”) to jump straight to that example. I added icons that I thought would provide a visual anchor for each category at a quick glance. I also tried to eliminate jargon. For example even though OWL and APA uses the more technically correct term “motion picture” I thought “movie/video” was the term students were mostly likely to use themselves.
Here’s a screenshot of the old APA Style Guide:
And here’s the new version Miyo created:
You can view the entire APA Style Guide on the St. Francis College library’s website.