2: Quick Start Guide

Understand exhibit strategy

Prior to requesting an exhibit, please review the Before You Start page. Exploring current exhibits on the exhibits.stanford.edu site will help you select the settings, functions, and widgets best suited to your needs.

Once your content is in the SDR and the metadata has been added (and/or you have assembled all of your non-SDR content), then you are ready to request your exhibit and a training session. We are happy to offer a consultation session beforehand if desired, but we've found the most effective training is conducted when you are ready to create your exhibit and your exhibit content is in the SDR and fully described.

Request your exhibit

Please follow the instructions to request an exhibit.

Request a training session

Contact the service team to request a training session if you are new to Spotlight. For new users, we conduct a 90-minute training session via Zoom that is tailored to your needs. We also conduct refresher training and provide consultations if you'd like to brainstorm possibilities for your exhibit.

Access your exhibit

Once you have requested an exhibit, you should receive a response within 2-3 days. After you have received the email notification that your Spotlight exhibit has been created and you have completed (or previously completed) your training session, you are ready to begin! Click on the exhibit link provided to access your new exhibit. (You can also access any of your exhibits-in-progress by navigating to exhibits.stanford.edu in your browser, authenticating by selecting Sign in in the top right corner of the screen, then navigating to the Your exhibits tab.)

Build your exhibit

There is detailed information on this exhibit site to assist with exhibit building, including short video tips for using the widgets, and more. Please refer to each of the pages in the Reference tab for thorough documentation.

For a quick overview of exhibit building for a basic exhibit that does not include feature pages, like Herbert Matter or Secret Service, please review the checklist below.

Checklist for basic exhibit creation

This is a checklist of many components and options needed to create a basic exhibit. This list is intentionally not exhaustive, but it hits several important high points. A basic exhibit does not need to include feature pages. Feature pages can be added to a published exhibit at a later date if desired.

A basic exhibit for a digitized collection/objects should have at a minimum: a home, browse and about page.


  • A combination of text and images is best
  • Doesn’t have to go below-the-fold – ie a simple home page is fine
  • Use of an eye-catching image or widget that features images from the exhibit is good
  • The Matter exhibit uses two image-based widgets on the home page: item grid widget & browse category widget

What to look out for

  • Images which have access rights of World or Stanford no-download should not be used in the item grid or browse widget, as thumbnails may need to be generated that fall outside the access rights parameters of no download (in this case, the widget will not work). Check object rights carefully.
  • If using the item grid widget, select more images than you need, so you can play around with the arrangement and make sure the aspect ratios do not look too stretched or strange.
  • The text widget can be used for single paragraphs only. If you have multiple paragraphs, please use the text widget multiple times (once for each paragraph).
  • The search facets can be enabled to appear on the home page, or not – it is both an aesthetic and a potential user needs decision. Matter & Secret Service do not have the search facets enabled. This exhibit has search facets enabled on the home page: Images of Rome.


  • Start by adding items to your exhibit
  • Browse categories are easy to create
  • Great entry/discovery point for digital objects
  • Select an eye-catching image for each browse tile
  • Remember to use this new feature, if desired: when configuring a browse category, check the box that enables search within, described under Editing a browse category


  • Add at least one contact to the main About page; photo is optional but desired; include job title and email at a minimum, but phone is optional
  • Please remember to acknowledge staff who worked to make the exhibit possible. These are often hidden staff and hourlies who otherwise receive no public credit for their work: digitization, metadata and conservation staff, along with all associated hourlies and students. A list of staff with job titles is good; a nice narrative is a bonus! Examples: Travel Through Time: Japan, Images of Rome, Mario Paci.

General tips and reminders

  • Remember to include a contact email for the person who should receive feedback emails about the exhibit. Feedback sometimes includes comments from users that require exhibit creator action. See Basic settings.
  • Remember to check the box to show background image in masthead to display the masthead image you have selected for your exhibit site
  • Remember to publish your browse categories and your about page(s) before you publish your exhibit, so you can see Browse and About in the top exhibit toolbar. See the Main menu section.
  • There is no need to publish your exhibit to see how it will look – this is built in to exhibit creation. As an exhibit creator, you are seeing how the exhibit will look when published, prior to publication
  • Please refer to the Exhibit Publication Checklist for additional items to check before you publish your exhibit.
  • Prior to publication, please contact the Spotlight service team for a pre-publication review. As an exhibit creator, you control when the exhibit is published.
  • Please remember to work with colleagues to create a blog post about your exhibit once it is published.