Interpretive Media Toolkit

NPS Interpretive Development Program

Updated Interpretive Media


This page provides links to a variety of resources to help you plan, design, and develop site-produced interpretive media products. The items listed here will help you develop your skills and meet the technical and interpretive standards for NPS media. These resources are organized by topic areas for your convenience. This page will be periodically updated with new or revised resources.

Please let us know if this toolkit is useful for you — provide a rating or a comment at the bottom of this page. You can also suggest additional resources for the toolkit.

Accessibility for Media

Audience-centered Strategies and Techniques

  • Audience-centered Interpretation [webpage] – this link will take you to the main webpage for this key skills set.
  • Audience Centered Experience (ACE) Workbook [PDF] – an introduction to ACE skills with practice activities, useful for both personal services and media development; this is also the curriculum for the Forging Connections through ACE training class.
  • Whose Questions, Whose Conversations, by Kathleen McLean [PDF] – an excerpt from Letting Go –Sharing Historical Authority in a User-generated World, 2011 that discusses the important trend toward audience-centered media strategies in informal learning institutions.
  • Foundations of 21st Century Interpretation [Version 2016 webpage] – learn about the eight core competencies for all NPS interpreters, which emphasize incorporating audience-centered strategies into all new and traditional programs and media.
  • Interpretive Facilitator’s Toolkit [webpage] – go to this resources page for self-study guides, tools, and examples of facilitation techniques, including facilitated dialogue techniques you can use in social media and other media products.
  • Opening Up the Museum Nina Simon TEDx Talk – one of the leading thought-leaders in museums and informal learning presents her insights on audience engagement.
  • The Participatory Museum [free eBook] – by Nina Simon – challenges interpreters and educators to think differently about planning and designing media products, with emphasis on audience collaboration and contribution.
  • Examples of Audience-centered Media [PowerPoint] – an informal gallery of examples from various sources, just to get your own ideas flowing! (Used as a class reference in the Audience Engagement Through Park-produced Media Virtual Class, May 2016) .


Graphic Identity and Standards for NPS Media

Images, Art and Maps

Intellectual Property

  • HFC Intellectual Property Guidelines [PDF 2010] – these are the guidelines used by Harpers Ferry Center in their interpretive media work with parks and contractors; includes a handy, brief introduction to intellectual property and copyright law.

Interpretive Design and Composition

  • Principles of Design Handout [webpage] – provides a list of design principles, elements, considerations and best practices for creating or evaluating interpretive media.
  • Elements of Interpretive Media Design [PDF] – provides a checklist of questions to consider and key principles to address when thinking about the best use of images, typography, and design from an interpretive context.
  • Design Elements in Interpretive Media [self-paced e-course] – online self-study course through Eppley/ProValens – provides a useful overview of media planning, design and interpretive best practices.
  • The following books would be useful additions to your park library or for your personal reference:
    • Reference book –The Non-Designer’s Design Book by Robin Williams, 2004 – covers basic design principles and applications.
    • Reference book – Caputo, P., Lewis, S. & Brochu, L. (2008). Interpretation by Design: Graphic Design Basics for Heritage Interpreters. Fort Collins, CO: InterpPress. You can find this on the NAI website.
    • Reference book – Universal Principles of Design: 100 Ways to Enhance Usability, Influence Perception, Increase Appeal, Make Better Design Decisions, and Teach through Design by Lidwell, Holden, and Butler.

Interpretive Writing for Media

Media Planning

Specific Media Types

  • Park-Produced Publications [website] – contains lots of useful guidance and resources from the pros at HFC.
  • Park Unigrid Brochures [website] – Resources from Harpers Ferry Center for park staff who need reprinted or new park brochures.
  • HFC Wayside Guide [webpage] – links to the latest version of this very useful guide from the pros at HFC.
  • HFC Digital Media Website – provides an overview of the types of digital media commonly used by parks and examples.
  • NPS Diginterp InDepth – videos of past webinar sessions.
  • Diginterp Facebook Group – an active group for sharing ideas, tips and resources.
  • Digital Community Site – The NPS Digital Community provides information in one convenient place for employees, volunteers, partners, friends, and contractors to work together to create and maintain the NPS digital experience.

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  3. This is such a great place to find so many resources! From ACE to media accessibility to style guides, this is an amazing resource for interpretive resources!


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