Federal Identity Program Manual
1.0 Management Guide to Corporate Identity
The Federal Identity Program (FIP) policy makes each institution responsible for managing its corporate identity within the framework of the government-wide policy and standards. This guide is intended to shift FIP from a compliance/coordination function to one that is management and results oriented. This new approach not only reflects the transition generated by the Government Communications Policy, IMAA (Increased Ministerial Authority and Accountability) and Public Service 2000, but indicates also the growing importance of corporate identity management in institutions that undergo fundamental change in corporate culture.
Corporate identity encompasses much more than symbols and design, it is central to corporate communications and should be part of an institution's management function. This guide outlines the principles of corporate identity and relates them to a public sector institution. It is intended to clarify government policy on the management of corporate identity and to point out links with service to the public. Furthermore, the guide describes how federal institutions can express their own visual identity within the framework of the Federal Identity Program.
This section of the FIP Manual should be used with the following policies:
Communications volume, Treasury Board Manual
- Government Communications Policy
- Federal Identity Program Policy
Concept and purpose
The concept of corporate identity and its management evolved over the last 50 years, and programs are now in place in most large organizations in the private as well as the public sector. Generally defined as a management technique for communicating an organization's unique characteristics in a memorable manner, corporate identity is based on the premise that key publics must perceive an organization clearly and accurately if management objectives are to be achieved.
It can be said that every organization, regardless of size, has a corporate identity, and it can be either formal or informal. The question is whether an organization manages its corporate identity in the most effective and purposeful manner possible.
The function of management is to ensure that all corporate communications reflect the organization and its goals in a consistent and positive manner, reinforcing each other. In the public sector this means corporate identity management based on public policy and service to the public, and consistent with an institutions strategic communications plans.
An identity program is not a "quick fix" to a problem of corporate communications, nor should it be seen as a cosmetic that can represent something the institution is not. In developing an identity one must examine the institution's past, its present situation and where it wants to be. It involves long-range planning and represents an integral part of corporate strategy. Designing a corporate identity is the most complex of graphic design activities and it is essential to obtain the support of senior management both for its creation and its maintenance.
The fundamental idea behind a corporate identity program is that everything the institution does, everything it owns, every service it provides, should project a clear idea of what the institution and its goals are. Managing identity is taking a comprehensive view of an institution's activities, how these are being identified and how the public perceives the institution.
How it is communicated
An institution's corporate identity is expressed in numerous ways, both explicitly and implicitly. When considering identity in a broad sense, the term corporate image is often used. It deals with the general impression of an institution held by various publics, interest groups, including employees, and it touches virtually all aspects of an institution's activities. Corporate image is constantly being communicated internally and externally and its sources can be classified as follows:
- The titles used for the institution, its branches and divisions, as well as the words used to identify programs, services and offices; it includes the titles of personnel.
- The hierarchy of an institution; the degree of relationship between the institution and organizational entities.
- Graphic elements
- The symbols, logotypes, corporate signatures, typestyles, formats and colours; all forms of visual communication.
- Formal statements
- Statements emanating from the institution and intended to clarify its mission, objectives or uniqueness for both internal and external publics.
- Formal recognition
- Awards, certificates and citations presented by the institution.
- Continuous media
- Stationery, calling cards, forms, signage, facilities (interior and exterior), vehicle identification.
- Transient media
- Published material, audio-visual productions, exhibits, advertising, public relations, special events, speeches and presentations.
Although corporate identity focuses on communications with the public, it applies equally to internal communications. An institution would appear confused if clients and employees were to receive different messages. This means that all information material for both external and internal use should clearly convey the institution's corporate identity. The design of this material expresses an institution's personality, its unique identity.
Corporate identity of the Government of Canada
For a public administration as diverse and decentralized as the Government of Canada, the FIP serves as a major unifying element. It promotes visual coherence and helps the public to recognize federal programs and to distinguish them from those of other levels of government. By establishing a visual link between the majority of federal institutions (see note below), the Program also gives public servants a sense of identity as employees of the Government of Canada.
The framework established by FIP policy is intended to maintain a coherent corporate identity of the government as a whole, while at the same time providing scope to individual institutions when expressing their identity.
The framework of FIP consists of:
- three corporate symbols (Coat of Arms, flag, "Canada" wordmark);
- use of the two official languages;
- approved titles of institutions;
- general rules on signatures, typography, colours;
- design standards for key applications (stationery, signage and vehicle markings).
Fields of applications such as advertising, published material, forms, audio-visual productions, expositions, as well as personnel identification, are subject to the general rules on corporate identity but their design is at the discretion of each institution.
Note: Exceptions are institutions that have been specifically exempted from FIP policy or are excluded in view of their legal status.
The government's signature
The "Government of Canada" signature has a broad range of applications, including items intended for government-wide use, activities involving two or more institutions, and facilities occupied by several government institutions. The signature is also used to identify certain boards, councils and committees, and to convey government sponsorship of shared-cost programs (e.g. those involving a provincial or territorial government).
Service to the public
Identification, recognition and access are aspects of both corporate identity and service to the public. The clear and consistent identification of an institution helps the public to find and access programs and services. This means applying corporate signatures and organizational titles in a coherent manner and ensuring that the identification is functional and user oriented. Integral to the government's policy on corporate identity and service to the public is the principle of presenting the two official languages with equal prominence. Design standards help to ensure a uniform presentation of the two languages.
When making an enquiry, citizens contact the government by telephone, mail, or in person and use different sources of information in the process. Such sources include telephone directory 'blue pages", government and private sector directories and indexes, departmental information services, public libraries, Reference Canada (the government's telephone referral service), constituency offices, as well as government publications, advertisements and forms.
The process of making an enquiry can be complex and frustrating because many people don't know which department or agency (or which level of government) is responsible for the program or service they are seeking. In view of the complexity of the federal administration, its dynamics and the multitude of sources of information, a systems approach assists the public when making enquiries. Such an approach entails the consistent use of corporate signatures, titles, keywords, abbreviations and addresses, and involves cross-referencing and indexing. An institution's corporate identity program can provide key elements when designing public enquiry mechanisms.
When developing sources of information or establishing enquiry mechanisms, institutions should ensure they are functional and meet the needs of the public rather than satisfy bureaucratic prerogatives. Government programs and services should be identified and described by using plain language, a functional design approach and a simple, consistent style.
Signage is a concrete example of how service to the public can be enhanced through communications systems and design standards. The FIP signage system is designed to help people find a government facility and locate a particular service or office within. Comprised of primary identification signs, directory boards, directional and locational signs, the system is being applied in federal buildings, regional and district offices, employment and immigration centres, passport offices, customs and taxation offices, ports of entry, health services facilities, schools, museums, passenger terminals and national parks.
The FIP signage system promotes functional communications and the use of plain language. A comprehensive set of graphic symbols, based on national and international standards, forms part of the system. It includes symbols related to health, safety, public facilities and services, as well as the symbol that indicates services in both official languages.
In summary, the signage system provides a uniform visual link among federal institutions and assists the public in recognizing and using government programs and services.
Managing an institution's corporate identity
The management of corporate identity involves the initial phase of selecting a name and adopting a signature and the ongoing activity of implementation.
The need to manage corporate identity is now well recognized. Studies of both the private and public sector indicate that organizations known for innovative management share similar characteristics:
- they create a clear link between corporate strategy, internal and external communications and the management of corporate identity;
- they recognize visual identity and design as a management tool and use if in a planned and coherent manner
- they demonstrate leadership and excellence in their services and products and communicate it clearly and consistently;
- their corporate identity conveys a sense of purpose that is expressed to both employees and clients; and
- they see their corporate identity as an important asset that must be prized and developed.
In summary, the purpose of managing corporate identity is to achieve clear and effective identification of all activities, consistent with strategic plans for communicating programs. An institution's identity should convey a sense of purpose, quality and integrity. It is a task that requires the full support of senior management and the active involvement of those concerned.
An institution's title is key to its identity. The words used help to define and position the institution. The selection of a title is one of the most important decisions and requires the approval of ministers (see FIP policy).
A title that can be communicated effectively and be remembered readily represents a distinct advantage in communications with the public. Choosing a title also means positioning the organization in relation to others. Ideally, a name should be distinctive and not share similarities. For example, when an estimated 5,000 organizations have titles beginning with the word "Canadian", it is evident that recognition can be difficult.
FIP policy requires institutions to adopt an approved title for use in their signature. Referred to as "applied titles", these names have a dual purpose: to express the function or nature of the institution to the public and to identify it as an institution of the Government of Canada. The requirement for applied titles stems from the development of FIP policy in the mid-seventies when existing legal titles were often long and sometimes convoluted. There was no intent, however, to perpetuate the need for both legal and applied titles when naming new federal institutions. This means that legislation establishing the institution should refer to a title that meets the criteria of FIP policy. Similarly, certain departments have made reference to their applied title while amending their Act, thus eliminating the need to distinguish between legal and applied titles.
Based on the criteria set out in the policy, these are examples of applied titles:
- Forestry Canada
- Agriculture Canada
- Communications Canada
- Department of Finance Canada
- Energy, Mines and Resources Canada
- lndustry, Science and Technology Canada
- Medical Research Council of Canada
- National Archives of Canada
- Public Works Canada
- Statistics Canada
- Tourism Canada
The applied titles, legal titles and abbreviations of government organizations are listed in "Titles of federal organizations", issued by the Treasury Board Secretariat as Appendix C of the FIP policy. Here is an example:
Health and Welfare Canada (HWC) Department of National Health and Welfare
Titles of programs and services Referred to as ''service titles'', these are names that identify an organizational unit, program or service and that appear in conjunction with the title of the parent organization. Their creation is at the discretion of each institution. The English and French titles should be developed in parallel and certain principles should be observed when determining the wording. A title should:
- be as brief as possible to promote effective communication;
- begin with a key word and avoid the repetition of words or concepts used in the title of the parent organization;
- respect the linguistic usage in both official languages; and
- not contain an abbreviation or ampersand (&).
Naming a program or service should be done in context with the institution's title. When words (or concepts) such as Canadian, Canada, Government, Federal or National are conveyed by the institution's title, it would be redundant to repeat them in the service title. To achieve brevity, the omission of terms that reflect an organization's structure may be considered (e.g. Administration, Office, Branch or Division). These terms describe an organization's hierarchy but may be of little significance to the public that relies on key words to locate and gain access to services. The example indicates how a title may be modified for purposes of the signature:
Canadian Parks Service
Symptomatic of a bureaucracy, abbreviations are part of its nomenclature. Critics refer to them as alphabet soup because few abbreviations are distinct identifiers or have the potential of becoming widely known. Nevertheless, it would be unrealistic to dismiss them from government communications because they provide a convenient "shorthand". To ensure an abbreviation is understood, it should always appear in the context of the full title.
An organization's structure is expressed through its corporate signatures. In that sense, the "Government of Canada" signature is the universal identifier, whereas ministers, senior officials, departments, branches, agencies, boards, commissions and programs are identified by distinct signatures. The example indicates the relationship between organisational structure and corporate signatures.
Signatures are developed for new institutions or programs, or an existing signature may be modified to meet changing requirements. Institutions may have several variants of their signature, a feature common among departments that are decentralized or that manage a variety of programs and services. The creation of a signature should be based on a clear understanding of the institution's corporate structure, its goals and, of course, the communications objectives. Government programs can be identified by different means, e.g. by a signature that identifies the program together with the parent institution and conveys organizational structure, or by a signature that identifies the program as a separate entity without reference to the parent institution. The different means provide flexibility when linking corporate identity with an organization's communications strategy.
A signature must be functional. The key is to determine a title that best reflects management objectives, is meaningful to the public and communicates the information clearly.
Content and form
The creation of a signature involves words and typography. It is a process that is verbal and visual and consists of arranging, organizing and designing. The goal is to express a signature in typographic terms; to strengthen the significant, or to make the important stand out against the less important. Generally, there are different options to present a signature and these should be compared when choosing the final design.
To meet special requirements, some institutions may need to adopt a short version of their applied title. Short versions are effective when viewing conditions or space restrictions call for a concise signature. For example, the Canadian Coast Guard uses the brief title Coast Guard when identifying its fleet; and Employment and Immigration Canada uses the title Immigration Canada when identifying activities related to immigration only. Institutions that create a short version of their title should register it in the FIP policy.
Dynamics of corporate identity
Public recognition of an institution is achieved and reinforced through the consistent application of its corporate signature. While continuity and uniformity are important factors of corporate identity, it is also clear that corporate identity and visual communications are dynamic and therefore subject to changes in corporate culture and strategy.
Managing corporate identity means flexibility to respond to new strategies while at the same time preserving the institution's permanent values. Any modification should be carefully analyzed and planned.
Quality and integrity
Managing corporate identity also means being responsible for its quality and integrity. The full recognition value of a corporate identity depends on good quality reproduction which should be monitored in all applications (e.g. forms, published material, motor vehicles, signs and directory boards).
The integrity of an institution's corporate identity can be undermined if the use of other symbols is not controlled. FIP policy restricts the use of other symbols, including those intended for government wide use.
An institution's visual identity is expressed in many ways and is much broader than corporate identity. The purpose of managing an institution's visual identity is to ensure that corporate goals are visualized and communicated effectively. It is based on the premise that decisions on the design of corporate communications should not be made in isolation. In that sense corporate identity and visual identity have similar objectives.
The corporate "look"
Institutions can make their visual communications more effective and coherent by establishing a corporate "look". This means developing a visual identity for those applications not subject to FIP design standards. The need to take such an approach varies from organization to organization and is at the discretion of each institution. A project that defines an institution's visual identity will require the support and approval of senior management and should come under the responsibility of the corporate identity manager.
The benefit of using a systems approach to make visual communications more coherent has been recognized by federal institutions with major publishing programs or significant investments in facilities or equipment. Some institutions developed simple guidelines while others are using comprehensive manuals; among these are: Canadian Coast Guard; Canadian International Development Agency; Emergency Preparedness Canada; National Archives of Canada; National Research Council Canada; Statistics Canada; Supply and Services Canada; and Transport Canada.
Generally, graphic standards establish corporate colours, typefaces, layouts or formats and most often apply to the design of published material. Outlined below is a suggested best practices approach.
Key to developing graphic standards is the design brief that defines the project. It requires research into past practices of designing and producing published material, defining the objectives and writing the actual brief. The design brief should establish a firm understanding of the project, its scope, objectives and restraints. It should provide management with a document that can be used throughout the development phase and against which design proposals can be compared.
A brief that defines the design and presentation of published material should address the following aspects: nature of the information or subject matter; program objectives; communications strategy and corporate identity; user publics; official languages; budget; production; marketing; distribution; and sales. In addition, the design brief should state any objectives related to government-wide priorities (e.g. environmental protection).
Once the most effective design solution has been determined and approved by the institution, all design requirements should be translated into a set of guidelines or standards. Intended for the various specialists involved (e.g. editors, planners, designers, typesetters, printers) the guidelines become a practical tool in the design and production process.
Ideally, graphic standards should create a framework or structure without limiting the creative process. Because visual communications and design are dynamic, a proper balance should be struck between firm rules and guidelines that allow flexibility and encourage innovation.
Advice and assistance
Each institution has named an official (referred to as FIP Coordinator) to manage its corporate identity. All enquiries regarding the guidelines should be routed through the FIP Coordinator of the institution.
The Administrative Policy Branch of Treasury Board Secretariat provides policy interpretation and advice on all aspects of corporate identity management and information design. Such advice includes the development of a visual identity within the framework of FIP but tailored to meet an institution's communications objectives.
For easy reference, certain terms established for FIP purposes are included here.
- the act of applying FIP design standards or general rules to an object (e.g. a sign, a vehicle).
- Applied title:
- the approved name used in the signature to identify an institution, program or activity. See also legal title, service title.
- "Canada" wordmark:
- the global identifier of the government; it consists of the word "Canada" with the Canadian flag over the final "a".
- Design standard:
- the approved rules on the use of design elements outlined in the FIP policy. They prescribe elements such as shape, size, layout, colour, typography and use of symbols.
- Field of application:
- the gamut of items that bear the identifying elements of FIP, e.g. stationery, vehicles, signs.
- Legal title:
- the name that appears in the enabling legislation (act), proclamation, Order in Council, or other instrument used to create a branch of government. (See also applied title.)
- Service title:
- the name that identifies an organizational unit, program, service or activity, and for purposes of a signature appears with the applied title of the parent institution. (See also applied title, legal title.)
- the combination of a symbol and a title. (Also referred to as the corporate signature.)
Included here are selected titles on the management of corporate identity and design. Additional references, including corporate identity manuals of other government organizations, may be consulted in the reference library of the Federal Identity Program at the Treasury Board Secretariat.
- Bernsen, Jens (ed.), Design Management in Practice, European/EEC Design Editions, Danish Design Council, Copenhagen, 1987.
- Blackburn, Bruce, Design Standards Manuals, National Endowment for the Arts, US. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC., 1977, (44 pp.).
- Blake J., A management guide to corporate identity, Council if Industrial Design, London, 1971.
- Editions du Centre Georges Pompidou, Images d'utilité publique, Paris, 1988, (151 pp.).
- Gerstner, Kari, Compendium for Literates, MIT Press, Boston, 1974, (180 pp.).
- Gorb, Peter (ed.) Design Talks, London Business School, The Design Council, London, 1988, (311 pp.).
- Gorb, Peter (ed.), Living by design, The partners of Pentagram, Lund Humphries Publishers Ltd., London, 1978, (300 pp.).
- Heude, Rémi-Pierre, L'image de marque, Éditions Eyrolles, Paris, 1989, (186 pp.).
- Hurlburt, Allen, The design concept, Watson-Guptill Publications, New York, 1981, (157 pp.).
- Leblond, Jean-Claude, Gouvernement du Québec - une nouvelle image de marque, Antennes, numéro 13-14, 1979, pp. 44-49.
- Mollerup, Per, The Corporate Design Programme, European/EEC Design Editions, Danish Design Council, Copenhagen, 1987, (117 pp.).
- Murphy, J. and Rowe, M., How to Design Trademarks and Logos, North Light Books, Cincinatti, Ohio, 1988, (144 pp.).
- Nakanishi, Motoo, Corporate Design Systems, PPC International, Inc., New York, 1985, (125 pp.).
- Olins, Wally, The Corporate Personality, An inquiry into the nature of corporate identity, Mayflower Books Inc., New York, 1978, (215 pp.).
- Olivetti, Design Process, Olivetti 1908-1978, Ing. C. Olivetti & Ca., Italy, 1979, (278 pp.).
- Selame, Elinor, The Company Image: building your identity and influence in the marketplace, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1988, (230 pp.).
- Simpson, Maria (ed.), Corporate Identity: Name, Image and Perception, Conference Board Report No. 898, The Conference Board, Inc., New York, 1987, (46 pp.).
- Schmittel, Wolfgang, Corporate design, ABC Edition, Zurich, 1984, (168 pp.).
- Wurman, Richard S., Information Anxiety, Doubleday, New York, 1989, (356 pp.).
Federal Identity Program
As with corporate identity programs generally, the Federal ldentity Program (FIP) is based on the use of corporate symbols applied in conjunction with organizational titles. The corporate signatures serve to identify institutions as part of the Government of Canada rather than as separate, independent entities. The origins of the government's corporate identity can be traced to the following events.
1921 The Canadian Coat of Arms was adopted by royal proclamation and introduced on government stationery. The colours red and white were declared to be Canada's official colours.
1965 The Canadian flag was adopted by royal proclamation. The maple leaf was confirmed as an official national symbol.
1969 The Official Languages Act was proclaimed, establishing the principle of equality of English and French.
1969 The Task Force on Government Information reported that the government was failing to make its presence known and that important federal programs were being carried out without the public being aware of their sponsorship.
In its report "To know and be known', the Task Force observed that organizations did not project a uniform, clearly identifiable image as functional parts of the same government. Many organizational titles failed to distinguish clearly public from private, or federal from provincial. Furthermore, through the use of different and uncoordinated symbols - many of very poor design - each organization identified itself as a separate entity.
1970 The creation of the Federal ldentity Program was announced in the House of Commons. Standardization and clear identification of federal activities were cited as main objectives. Information Canada, a new agency, was made responsible to develop and implement the program.
1974 Treasury Board approved the first policy guidelines that included the use of the two official languages and a management system for the development and implementation of the program.
1976 Following the demise of Information Canada, the Treasury Board Secretariat was given responsibility for FIP.
1978 Treasury Board issued a comprehensive policy and design standards.
During the 80s, FIP underwent several reviews that resulted in changes to the use of symbols. In 1980 the "Canada" wordmark was established as the global identifier of the government. In 1987 the federal emblem (bar and maple leaf) was replaced by the Canadian flag. This means that the Coat of Arms, the flag, and the "Canada" wordmark are now the corporate symbols of the government.
The program's policy objectives are:
- to enable the public to recognize clearly federal activities by means of consistent identification;
- to improve service to the public by facilitating access to programs and services;
- to project equality of status of the two official languages, consistent with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (1982) and the Official Languages Act (1988);
- to ensure effective management of the federal identity consistent with government-wide priorities, and to achieve savings through standardization;
- to promote good management practices in the field of corporate identity and information design.
Although not prepared for that purpose, the rationale for FIP was well expressed in the 1981 report of the Parliamentary Task Force on Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements. The following statement could apply to all aspects of federal identity:
"...spending without federal presence is not just frustration for the politician, it is also a denial of the citizen's right to see the government's work and to judge it. When the federal role is not evident, it cannot be assessed. Visibility involves a search for the chance to take the credit, but at the same time, a willingness to shoulder the blame. As politicians, therefore, we reject the simplistic view that a concern for visibility is no more than public relations for its own sake. Answerability of federal MPs to the public is the other side of the coin from accountability of ministers to Parliament, and a government that is not visible cannot be answerable".
In summary, federal programs, services and contributions should be recognizable to the public in order for the government to be accountable. From a practical point of view, FIP represents an important aspect of service to the public. The program's guidelines are based on the use of plain, non-bureaucratic language, functional graphic design and a systems approach in identifying government services.
The Federal Identity Program is considered to be one of the largest corporate identity programs undertaken by a national government. An estimated 18,000 facilities, 16,000 government vehicles, and a multitude of forms, stationery items, published material and advertisements are identified in accordance with FIP guidelines. The program is being applied by over 100 federal institutions in all regions of Canada as well as abroad.
A global viewpoint
An aspect worth noting is the relationship between the visual identity of the government and that of the century. The report to the 1969 Task Force on Government Information first referred to this aspect. The report said:
'A great deal of the responsibility for the image of a country rests with government. There are scores of ways in which government is instantly recognized. They range from the flag and the appearance of government buildings the stationery and letterheads, advertisements, insignia on government vehicles and so on. Abroad, the distinction between government and Canada merges into a single image". The report called it "l'image Canada".
In 1988 this concept was addressed at an international design exhibition at the Centre Pompidou in Paris. Under the theme "Images d'utilité publique", the exhibition examined how the state and public authorities and organizations communicate with people and how information design directly affects the functioning and quality of society. The Federal ldentity Program was among the case studies from different countries that demonstrated national, civic and cultural visual identities. Internationally, the Program is well recognized among corporate identity and design consultants.
1.1 Design: Symbols, typography signatures, colour
The symbols and signatures of the government should be presented in a consistent and uniform manner. These guidelines and design standards describe the use of symbols, typefaces, signatures and colours, and are intended to assist all those involved in designing or applying signatures.
This edition of “Design”, which supersedes the version, includes new guidelines for signatures that identify a program or service (compound signatures), as well as information on electronic formats to reproduce symbols and signatures.
This guide should be used with the following policies and guidelines:
Communications Volume, Treasury Board Manual
- Chapter 1, Government Communications
- Chapter 2, Federal Identity Program, and its Appendices
- Official languages
- Application schedules
- Titles of federal organizations
Federal Identity Program Manual
- 1.0 Management guide to corporate identity
These guidelines and design standards describe the use of the government’s corporate symbols, standard typefaces, signatures and colours. They apply to federal institutions using either the Coat of Arms or the flag in their signature.
Each institution has named an official (usually referred to as FIP Coordinator) to manage its corporate identity. All enquiries should be routed through the official designated by the institution.
Enquiries about the guidelines and design standards should be directed to:
Federal Identity Program
Administrative Policy Branch
Treasury Board Secretariat
The Coat of Arms, the flag and the “Canada” wordmark are the corporate symbols of the government (Fig. 1). Their consistent application helps to project the Government of Canada as a coherent, unified administration.
- Coat of Arms
The Coat of Arms is used to identify ministers and their offices, parliamentary secretaries, institutions whose heads report directly to Parliament, as well as institutions with quasi-judicial functions. When applied in the context of the Federal Identity Program (FIP), the Coat of Arms is always used with a bilingual title.
- Flag symbol
The flag symbol is used to identify all departments, agencies, corporations, commissions, boards, councils, and other federal bodies and activities, unless they are authorized to be identified by the Coat of Arms. When applied in the context of FIP, the symbol is always used with a bilingual title.
For purposes of the FIP slight modifications were made to the flag, particularly to the stem of the maple leaf.
- “Canada” wordmark
Referred to as the global corporate symbol of the government, the wordmark is used always in association with the appropriate signature.
The wordmark has an established relationship between the elements which may not be altered in any way. Its letter forms originated from the typeface Baskerville but were modified for purposes of the wordmark. This means that the design of the wordmark is unique and an appropriate master is required for reproduction.
Use of other symbols
In cases where another symbol is used in conjunction with the corporate symbols of FIP, care should be taken to ensure a clear, uncluttered display of the federal identity. The FIP policy does not permit the use of other symbols on standard applications (stationery, signage and vehicle markings).
A signature is the combination of a symbol and a title. The symbol is either the Coat of Arms or the flag (as appropriate) and the title, in both official languages, identifies an institution, program or individual (Fig. 2).
To achieve uniformity of all signatures, the size and spatial relationships between symbol and typography are specified.
The approved titles of institutions are listed in “Titles of federal organizations” (see Appendix C of the FIP policy).
For titles occupying more than one line, the words should be arranged in logical groupings or reading phrases, and an attempt should be made to achieve visual balance between the two language columns. A typographic layout is often a compromise between concerns for logical line breaks and the need for a pleasing presentation. Generally, an institution adopts one signature layout and uses it consistently. Nevertheless, different layouts may be used to meet special needs (e.g. a one-line as opposed to a two-line signature, or a variation in the way the lines are broken).
A consistent typography is fundamental to corporate identity, and three faces from the Helvetica type family have been adopted for purposes of the FIP. They were chosen for their versatility, excellent legibility and contemporary design.
The three typefaces (Fig. 3) are designated Helvetica light, regular and medium throughout this manual. When specifying a typeface, it should be noted that these are not standard designations. For instance, the three faces are also referred to as Helvetica 45, 55 and 65 respectively. Since the designations used by industry vary, the type specimens shown here should be examined for comparison with specimens shown in the catalogues of suppliers.
The use of the standard typefaces is mandatory for all signatures. Helvetica is also specified for words accompanying the signature in applications that are subject to design standards, e.g. stationery, signage and vehicle markings.
Although slight variations from the illustrated specimens are acceptable for individual items, care should be taken to avoid the mixing of composition from different sources on any one item. Variations in the letter forms are noticeable when typesetting from different suppliers or a variety of composition equipment is combined.
This typeface was developed for purposes of the government’s signage system as well as vehicle markings. Details on the design of the signage typeface and its spacing system are provided in section 4.5 of this manual.
The rules for presenting a signature are:
- Use of upper and lowercase characters;
- Use of accents with uppercase as well as with lowercase letters in the French text;
- Use of appropriate line breaks when a signature is to be typeset in more than one line (i.e. an effort should be made to break the lines into reading phrases avoiding articles or prepositions at the end of a line and to achieve a visual balance between the two language columns);
- Ampersands (&) may not be used in a signature.
The basic specifications for signatures are: upper and lowercase, solid, normal spacing between letters, with selective kerning applied to awkward combinations of letters.
To compensate for different viewing conditions, variations from normal spacing between letters may be required when signatures are set in large type sizes (display type) or are intended for audio-visuals, posters or outdoor advertising. Selective kerning should be used in all cases to improve letter-fit and to enhance visual appearance (Fig. 4).
Quality of typesetting
The quality level for the typesetting of signatures is specified as “Prestige”, which is defined in the Supply and Services Canada publication Typesetting Quality Levels (latest issue, 1987).
Signature incorporating the Coat of Arms
Government institutions that use the Coat of Arms in their signature have discretion to choose between two presentations, the symmetrical or the asymmetrical layout. For functional reasons, the asymmetrical layout is recommended for applications such as signage and vehicle markings.
The layout specifications for signatures used on ministerial stationery are described in section 2.1 of this manual.
Layout in typographic measures
For both the symmetrical and the asymmetrical layout the relationship between the size of the type and the size of the Coat of Arms is as follows: 6 and 7 point type with a 12 mm Coat of Arms; 8 and 9 point type with a 14 mm symbol; 10 and 11 point type with an 18 mm symbol. The sizes of the Coat of Arms are based on its height, measured in millimetres (Fig. 5).
The bilingual title appears on either side of the Coat of Arms. Depending on its length, a title may be laid out in one, two, or three lines. The lowest line of the type is horizontally aligned with the tip of the shield in the Coat of Arms. The left-hand column is set flush right, while the opposite column is presented flush left. The two columns are separated by a space of 7 ems of the type size being used. The Coat of Arms is centred in that space (Fig. 6).
The bilingual title appears to the right of the Coat of Arms. Depending on the length of the title and the horizontal space available, a title may be laid out in one, two or three lines. The lowest line of the type is horizontally aligned with the tip of the shield in the Coat of Arms. Both columns are set flush left. The space between the Coat of Arms and the left-hand column, and the space between the language columns is 1.5 em of the type size being used (Fig. 6).
Layout in “x”
The asymmetrical layout is used for the signature. Titles may be laid out in one, two or three lines. All measurements are based on the x-height of the character size being used. The size relationship between the Coat of Arms and the type should be based on the number of lines being used. The object is to establish a good visual balance between symbol and typography. This principle is reflected by the examples shown (Fig. 7), where the two-line signature has a ratio of 1:6 and the three-line signature a ratio of 1:8. For example, the design of a two-line signature using a ratio of 1:6 and an x-height of 10 mm would require a Coat of Arms measuring 60 mm.
As a general rule, signatures require a space of 4x between the Coat of Arms and the left-hand column, and between the two language columns. The minimum space is 3x.
Signature incorporating the flag
Described here is the basic layout for signatures incorporating the flag. The bilingual title appears to the right of the flag symbol. Two-line signatures are most common; for lengthy titles, a three-line signature is used (Fig. 8).
Design standards apply to the size and spatial relationships between symbol and typography. Signatures for printed applications are specified using typographic measurements (point and em). Signatures for signs or vehicle markings are specified in millimetres with respect to character size; the layout measurements are expressed in number of “x”.
Layout in typographic measures
The size relationships between symbol and typography and the standard spaces are as follows.
Two-line and three-line signatures: The ratio between the type size and the height of the flag symbol is 1:1.7. For example, a signature set in 12 point type requires a symbol which is 20 points in height (Fig. 9). Table 1 shows the type size with the corresponding height of the symbol. The measurements are in points.
One-line signature: The ratio between the type size and the height of the flag symbol is 1:1.5. For example, a signature set in 12 point type requires a symbol which is 18 points in height (Fig. 10). Table 2 shows the type size with the corresponding height of the symbol. The measurements are in points.
Horizontal alignment: The base of the symbol and the base line of the type are aligned horizontally as indicated in Figures 9 and 10.
Standard spaces: As a general rule, the space between the symbol and the left-hand column, as well as between the language columns is 1.5 em of the type size being used (Fig. 11).
Table 1: 1:1.7 Ratio (data in points)
Table 1: 1:1.7 Ratio (data in points) – Text version
Table 2: 1:1.5 Ratio (data in points)
Table 2: 1:1.5 Ratio (data in points) – Text version
Layout in “x”
The size relationships between symbol and typography and the standard spaces are as follows.
Two-line and three-line signatures: The ratio between the character size and the height of the flag symbol is 1:3.4. For example, a signature using a character size of 20 mm requires a symbol which is 68 mm (or 3.4x) in height (Fig. 12). Table 3 shows the character size with the corresponding height of the symbol. The measurements are in millimetres.
One-line signature: The ratio between the character size and the height of the flag symbol is 1:3. For example, a signature using a character size of 25 mm requires a symbol which is 75 mm (or 3x) in height (Fig. 13). Table 4 shows the character size with the corresponding height of the symbol. The measurements are in millimetres.
Horizontal alignment: The base of the symbol and the base line of the type are aligned horizontally as indicated in Figures 12 and 13.
Standard spaces: As a general rule, a space of 4x between the symbol and the left-hand column as well as between the language columns is used. The minimum space is 3x (Fig. 14).
Flag symbol (modified)
Users of large signatures should note that a modified version of the symbol was developed to compensate for irradiation, an optical effect whereby white elements appear to spread into surrounding dark areas. The modified version is used for all large signatures that appear in white on a dark background, e.g. signs. (See “Enquiries”.)
Table 3: 1:3.4 ratio (data in mm)
Table 3: 1:3.4 ratio (data in mm) – Text version
Table 4: 1:3 ratio (data in mm)
Table 4: 1:3 ratio (data in mm) – Text version
This guideline was developed in view of a growing demand for signatures that identify an institution’s programs or services. Various factors should be considered when developing a compound signature and assessing options. The process involves arranging, organizing and designing, and has the following goals:
- to express organizational titles in typographic terms;
- to make distinctions by creating emphasis;
- to establish a logical order;
- to develop both language versions in parallel.
The key is to determine a signature that best reflects management objectives, is meaningful to the public and communicates the information clearly.
Factors to be considered
Structure, contrast and layout are factors that determine the design of compound signatures. There are no ready-made formulas for layout and typographic treatment; on the contrary, each signature should be designed to meet its own unique set of requirements. It is a typographical task and means selecting a satisfactory compromise between the demands of logic and appearance.
A signature should be structured to show the proper relationship between titles, e.g. those of the parent organization and the organizational component. The component title normally starts on a new line and may be linked to the title of the parent organization. Usually, titles are linked when it involves a major component, when the titles are relatively short, or when a compact layout is required. A signature’s structure will also convey the relationship between titles. For instance, the use of a space generally indicates a subordinate rank. The length of titles or the number of levels to be identified are additional factors that affect a decision to link or to space out titles (Fig. 15).
Contrast has the effect of a signal, it helps the reader to perceive and comprehend information quickly. In typographic terms, contrast means the use of different typefaces (weights) or different type sizes. The contrasting values create emphasis where appropriate and help the reader to make distinctions.
Using different typefaces
Contrast may be created by combining either Helvetica light with Helvetica medium, or Helvetica regular with Helvetica medium (Fig. 16). A variety of factors such as size, method of reproduction, colour, and type of application should be considered when deciding which typefaces to combine. A combination of Helvetica light with medium provides the greatest contrast, of course.
Using different type sizes
Contrast may be created by combining two different type sizes (Fig. 17). A variety of factors such as length of titles, signature layout, legibility, and type of application will determine the proper combination of sizes. As a general rule, a ratio of 1:1.5 up to 1:2 is recommended. The object is to create a suitable contrast while maintaining balance.
The insertion of space between titles serves as a visual cue. The principle is to create distinction between titles while maintaining the overall unity of the signature. The guideline examples indicate that only a small amount of space is needed. See Figures 15, 18 and 19.
Unity and simplicity
When creating a compound signature, care should be taken to limit the mix of typographic elements and the number of organizational levels represented. The object is to identify a program or service, not to convey an institution’s hierarchy or organizational structure. Because a compound signature is generally intended to highlight a program, the emphasis should be on that title. Different means of creating contrast are shown in Figure 18.
All signatures should convey a sense of unity and simplicity , notwithstanding a mix of typographic elements. This means the contrast should not be so strong that one element dominates to an extent that the balance is upset, nor should the typography become too complex. Therefore, it is suggested to create contrast by mixing either typefaces or type sizes, not both. Figure 19 compares simple designs with solutions that appear overly complex.
“Government of Canada” signature
This universal signature of the government (Fig. 20) has a broad range of applications. They include items intended for government-wide use, activities involving two or more institutions, as well as facilities occupied by several government institutions. The signature is also used to identify certain boards, councils and committees, and to convey government sponsorship of shared-cost programs (e.g. those involving other governments).
Identifying two or more institutions
When several institutions cooperate on a project, their involvement can be identified in a number of ways. The object is to achieve identification that is brief, avoiding the display of separate signatures each one having a flag symbol. The methods are (Fig. 21):
- the “Government of Canada” signature is presented alone, while the institutions are referred to elsewhere (e.g. on the title page of a publication);
- the titles are connected with the conjunction and to form a two, three or four-line signature;
- the titles are preceded by the “Government of Canada” signature.
In view of the many fields of application of the “Canada” wordmark, two weights and a range of sizes are in use.
The two versions of the wordmark (Fig. 22) are intended for different viewing conditions. In general, the fields of application are as follows:
- regular-weight for printed material;
- medium-weight for signage, and markings for motor vehicles, aircraft and watercraft.
A range of sizes has been selected for each of the versions of the wordmark and are used for applications subject to design standards (stationery, signage, vehicle markings). For reasons of consistency, these sizes are also recommended for other fields of application.
The sizes are based on the length of the wordmark, measured from the left edge of the “C” to the right edge of the flag (Fig. 23).
The standard sizes are: 20, 23, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50 and 60 mm.
The sizes are based on the x-height, measured on the “n” as shown (Fig. 23).
The standard sizes are: 20, 40, 60, 80, 100, 120, 140, 160, 180, 200, 220 and 240 mm.
Presenting the signature and wordmark
The following rules are fundamental to corporate identity and should be observed when presenting the signature and wordmark.
To ensure the integrity of corporate signatures and symbols the following criteria apply:
- they may not be altered in any way (see note);
- they should be displayed in generous open space, free from close association with any interfering or distracting elements;
- they may not appear on a visually conflicting background;
- when presenting the signature and wordmark, they should be displayed as two distinct elements;
- the wordmark may not form part of a headline, phrase or sentence.
Note: Exceptions are variations in the layout of a signature, e.g. number of lines, line breaks, and space between columns.
Relative size and position
The relative size and position of the signature and the wordmark are specified for applications that are subject to design standards. Guidance for other fields of application is provided in the appropriate section of this manual.
The “Canada” wordmark has been defined as the dominant symbol of the federal identity; this aspect should be reflected when presenting the wordmark.
Signature and text layout
When a signature appears with text in a bilingual, side by side format, the space between the two columns in the signature may be adjusted to achieve alignment with the right-hand column of text. This columnar layout of signature and text is used for FIP applications which are subject to design standards, and is recommended for other applications where a side by side, bilingual format is used (Fig. 24).
Colour is an important aspect of the federal identity and is used consistently for key applications (stationery, and signage and vehicle markings). The design standards on colour are based on one or more of the following goals:
- to enhance the effectiveness of the corporate identity;
- to achieve cost savings through standardization;
- to conform with national standards, where applicable.
For fields of applications that are not subject to design standards, the choice of colour is discretionary. Nevertheless, certain principles concerning colour and contract should be observed.
The basic colours of the government’s corporate identity are FIP red, black and white. The flag in the signature and wordmark appears in FIP red, while the type is rendered in black. Notwithstanding this rule, there is much flexibility when using other colours for the signature and “Canada” wordmark.
The principles are:
- to ensure sufficient contrast with the background; and
- to use for both flag and type.
A digression from these principles can be appropriate when creating special effects. Examples are cut-out letters for displays or blind-embossing.
Where applicable, colour specifications are provided in the appropriate sections of this manual (e.g. stationery). For easy reference, the information concerning FIP red is brought together here.
Federal Identity Program red
Two means are used to specify FIP red:
- by referring to a product that is available commercially (e.g. Sinclair and Valentine, No. RL163929/0); or
- by stating a particular number in a colour reference system (e.g. CGSB 509-211).
Printing ink colours: The following inks meet the requirements for FIP red (see note): General Printing Ink, No. 0-712; Inmont Canada Ltd., No. 4T51577; Rieger Inks No. 25564; or Sinclair and Valentine, No. RL163929/0
Note: To test consistency in the reproduction of FIP red, reflection density measurements should be made on a McBeth Model No. 1155 SP1 (or equivalent) densitometer. Reflection density using Wratten 58 (green) filter should be not less than 0.80 and not greater than 1.10 density units.
Paint colours: Specifications for FIP red should refer to the colour CGSB 509-211 which is shown in CGSB 1-GP-12, Standard Paint Colours. Swatches of this colour may be purchased from the Canada Communication Group, Publishing, of Supply and Services Canada.
Weather-resistant product: A special, weather-resistant product has been approved for exterior primary signs where it is used for the red flag in the wordmark. This 3M product is referred to as cast-in “tomato” red vinyl No. 180-13.
When using FIP red for other applications that are subject to weathering, the use of this product is recommended.
Reproduction of symbols and signatures
The use of good masters (reproduction proofs or electronic versions) is essential to maintaining quality. Reproductions should always appear sharp, well-defined, and without distortion (Fig. 25a). A concern for quality helps to build and maintain the full recognition value of the signature and wordmark. The examples show signatures and symbols that were altered, distorted, or redesigned; such substitutes are unacceptable (Fig. 25b).
Where applicable, the following Supply and Services Canada publications should be consulted:
- Typesetting Quality Levels (latest edition, 1987);
- Quality Levels for Printing (latest edition, 1988).
All institutions have been provided with a set of proofs that include commonly-used sizes:
- Coat of Arms, 12 to 24 mm
- Flag symbol for signatures of 6 to 12 Pt
- “Canada” wordmark, 20 to 30 mm
- “Canada” wordmark, 35 to 60 mm
For larger sizes of the symbols, or for special needs, contact the Federal Identity Program. The office keeps the original artwork of the symbols as well as reproduction proofs.
“Government of Canada” signatures
Proofs of signatures in a range of weights and point sizes are available upon request. Contact the Federal Identity Program.
Procurement of institutional signatures
Each institution is responsible for the procurement of its signatures and will find it convenient to maintain a supply of signatures in the sizes and weights commonly needed; any requirements from within the institution or by suppliers (e.g. advertising agencies or design studios) can then be met. For reference purposes, weights and point sizes should be indicated on the type proof.
The flag symbol and the “Canada” wordmark are available in Encapsulated PostScript (EPS) files. They can be used in most popular publishing software applications (e.g. Quark Xpress, Aldus Pagemaker, Ventura Publisher, WordPerfect) running on platforms such as IBM PC and compatibles or Macintosh. Users should consult the manual for the particular software to determine how EPS files may be used.
Federal institutions may wish to establish their own library of graphic elements required for their corporate identity and suited to their particular computer environment. When undertaking such a project, institutions should ensure they have current information concerning FIP design standards and electronic formats, and may contact the Federal Identity Program.
Technical advice on the creation of electronic files is available from the Text and Image Processing Centre, Printing Services, Supply and Services Canada.
For easy reference, certain terms established for purposes of the Federal Identity Program are included here.
- applied title
- The approved name used in the signature to identify an institution, program or activity.
- base line
- An imaginary line on which the bottoms of capital letters rest.
- “Canada” wordmark
- The global identifier of the government; it consists of the word “Canada” with the Canadian flag over the final “a”.
- compound signature
- The combination of a symbol and more than one title.
- design standard
- The approved rules on the use of design elements outlined in the FIP policy. They pertain to aspects such as size, layout, colour, typography and use of symbols.
- A unit of linear measurement for which the width varies according to the type size in use, e.g. 10 point em is 10 points wide.
- normal letterspacing
- The letterspacing values allotted by the typefont designer or the manufacturer of the typesetting equipment.
- A unit of measurement used in typography: approximately 4.2 mm.
- A unit of measurement used in typography: approximately 0.35 mm; abbreviated “pt”; 12 points equal 1 pica.
- reproduction proof
- A sharp and well-defined photo-print or clean type proof in dense black colour, used for image transfer onto offset plates, engravings, etc.
- selective kerning
- The selective reduction of space between certain typeset character combinations; the rest of the setting retains normal letterspacing. When applied to awkward letter combinations (e.g. Te, Av), kerning improves visual letter-fit and overall letter-spacing uniformity and legibility of a word, line or block of type.
- service title
- The name that identifies an organizational unit, program, service or activity, and for purposes of a signature appears with the applied title of the parent institution.
- The combination of a symbol and a title. (Also referred to as the corporate signature.)
- Type matter without any additional spaces between lines; it is said to be “set solid”.
- In typography, the degree of blackness of a typeface.
- A unit of measurement used in signage: the square of the x-height of the character size. x-height: The height of the central portion of lowercase letters, exclusive of ascenders and descenders, i.e. the height of w,x,z. It is used to identify character sizes in signage.
1.2 Message: Identification of programs and services
Messages that identify services or inform about programs appear in many applications of the FIP. These messages play an important role in helping the general public gain access to government services.
This section is intended to clarify FIP policy as it applies to the identification of programs and services, including the use and presentation of the official languages. It should be used with Chapter 470, “Federal Identity Program” of the Administrative policy manual.
To help users of the FIP Manual to develop an appropriate version of a message in each official language, certain rules of style and usage have been included in this section. These rules were prepared in consultation with the Translation Bureau, Department of the Secretary of State of Canada.
Plain and simple
Government programs and services should be identified in plain language that clearly describes their purpose. Messages should meet the needs of the public. Therefore they should be brief, and should not describe organizational hierarchies. Functional identification is user-oriented. Organizational identification on the other hand, primarily serves a bureaucracy.
The need for guidelines was identified following a review of the message content in FIP applications such as forms, advertising, paid announcements, and signage. The review showed a preoccupation with bureaucratic concerns and a failure to identify programs and services clearly to the public. It also revealed errors in the text and a disregard for the standards of style and usage of each official language.
The purpose of these guidelines is to clarify government policy and to explain how it can be implemented.
Guidelines are provided on the creation and presentation of messages in both official languages. Such messages identify government programs and services, and generally include titles, addresses or other information needed by the public.
The fields of application for these messages include stationery, calling cards, forms, public notices, advertising and signage.
Directly related is the use of titles and addresses in a telephone directory (e.g. blue pages) or an index to federal programs and services. The use of service titles may also affect telephone answering.
The guidelines on the creation and presentation of messages are based on these objectives:
- to facilitate access to federal programs and services;
- to promote consistency and clarity in the writing and presentation of both official languages;
- to promote the functional identification of government services;
- to assist effective communication in applications where messages must be concise.
Each government organization is responsible for the content and the linguistic quality of texts in both official languages. To ensure that messages are correct in every respect, organizations should provide appropriate controls.
Identification: a systems approach
Coherent messages are the basis of systematic identification. On a visual level, the FIP provides coherence through the consistent use of graphic elements; on a verbal level, the applied title identifies an organization in a consistent manner.
Managing a system
Messages that identify programs and services form an important part of an organization’s corporate identity. Generally, it is the FIP coordinator who maintains an overview of all the applications of an organization’s corporate identity and who can best advise on messages that identify services. Messages must be clear and consistent to meet the needs of the public. The modes of contact by the public vary and may include personal contact in an administrative setting or a field situation, or contact by mail or telephone.
Identification of government services
The relationship between corporate and service identification should be evaluated. The term “corporate identification” means the identity as expressed by an organization’s signature, “Canada” wordmark, standard typeface, and specific colours and layout. Generally, the corporate identification is supplemented by a message that is specific to a particular service or location
Access to government services
The interaction between information provided in advance and the identification provided at the point of service should be assessed. It is an analysis of the process people use to find and gain access to government programs and services (Fig. 2).
Message: Who needs to know?
Messages must be ‘tuned” to the receiver, the public. To produce an effective message, the author must know the nature of the particular public and its needs for information. To help the public to find and gain access, a user-centered approach is needed. Messages referring to a government service should be consistent wherever they appear, in advance of, or at the point of service.
Information provided in advance
Much of the advance information available to the public is found in sources such as telephone directory “blue pages”. Other advance information is provided by federal organizations in the form of printed material or advertisements. Within an identification system, the terms used and the type of message provided in advance should be reflected at the point of service. For example, the title or address listed in the “blue pages” should appear on a sign identifying the location of the service; the name of a service appearing on a sign should be used when referring to this service in a brochure and when answering the telephone in the office providing this service (Fig. 3).
Fig. 3 Identification of an organization in various listings on the primary sign.
These are names that identify an organizational unit, program or service and appear in conjunction with the signature of the parent organization. Establishing these titles is the function of the corporate identity manager, and organizations are encouraged to review their existing titles in terms of the criteria set out below.
Titles should be applied consistently throughout an organization. This is most important for titles that are used in communications with the public. Organizations with regional operations should establish these titles centrally to achieve uniformity throughout all regions. A service title should respect the following criteria:
- be as brief as possible to promote effective communication;
- begin with a key word and avoid the repetition of words or concepts used in the title of the parent organization;
- respect the linguistic usage in both official languages; and
- not contain an abbreviation or ampersand (&).
The need to use these titles in applications where messages must be concise (e.g. signs, directories) should be a prime consideration. Certain words may be redundant: Canadian, Canada, Government, Federal or National. Similarly, certain general terms that reflect an organization’s structure may be avoidable: Administration, Office, Branch or Division. These terms reflect an organization’s hierarchy and are often of little significance to the general public which relies on key words to locate and gain access to services.
Assisting the ultimate user
The creation of an acronym should not be the sole consideration when determining a service title. A hypothetical example would be the title “Board of Industrial Development (BID)” as opposed to “Industrial Development Board (IDB)”. The latter does not produce an acronym, but it does start with the key word “Industrial”, an obvious advantage in alphabetical listings. (It is recognized that a similar use of key words probably would not be feasible when creating a French title.)
Abbreviations: language of codes
A service title should not contain an abbreviation. It would be unrealistic however, to dismiss the need for abbreviations in government communications. For those who create them and use them regularly, abbreviations form a convenient “shorthand”, but for the public they represent a language of codes that is at best difficult to decipher and at worst incomprehensible. Messages directed at the public should not contain acronyms or abbreviations unless they appear in the context of the full title.
Message: editing and design
Editing and design both give meaning and form to a message. The transition from the first draft or layout to the final communication is a process of arranging, organizing, and in many cases rephrasing. The choice of words, of spatial relationships and of expressive graphic elements results in meaningful and purposeful communications. An objective review takes place during the process of drafting and designing.
The process: verbal and visual
Throughout this section, the guidelines and examples deal with words and typography, or content and form. The task of combining these elements is a good deal more than an arrangement of the message on, for example, a sign. Communicating a message effectively requires methodology. This includes:
- skillful choice of words;
- organization of the words into a logical sequence;
- presentation of the words in typographic, spatial terms.
The first and second aspects are verbal and the responsibility of the editor; the last is visual and involves the designer. All three are interrelated and the thought processes and goals are identical: to give meaning to a message, to strengthen its significance, to make the important stand out against the unimportant. A message presented in “tone-of-voice” typography reflects the relative importance of verbally expressed thoughts; it gives impact to a communication (Fig. 4).
Equally important are an understanding of the conditions under which the message is to be received and an awareness of its continuity with related information. This points to the need for coordination and the importance of editing and design: to transcribe the available information into words; to project these in a dynamic form; and to help achieve a communication that is easy to understand.
Official languages: side by side
When presenting the two official languages in a side by side format, care must be taken to achieve equivalence in both content and appearance. The following guidelines deal with the process of combining English and French texts in a bilingual layout.
The policy (Chapter 470) requires a message to be equally complete in each official language and to correspond in all respects.
To achieve equivalence in both content and number of lines, a revision of the original text may be required. This could include segmenting the text into main and secondary messages, or rephrasing.
Choosing the line breaks
Messages that are to be presented in more than one line should be broken into readable phrases. Articles and prepositions at the end of a line should be avoided. In addition, an attempt should be made to provide a visual balance between the two language columns. Although a visual balance is generally achieved by using the same number of lines for each language, compromises may have to be made to avoid one language column of three or more lines, each consisting of one word only (Fig. 5).
Message elements common to both languages
Many messages include an element that is common to both official languages, e.g. a geographical name or street name that may not be translated, a Street number, an expression of time, a distance, or a directional arrow.
Depending on its context within the total sign message, a common element may be presented in several ways:
- Where a common element forms the main message (or an important part of the total message), it should be emphasized in relation to the remaining text. In such cases, a repeat of the common element in the right hand column may be redundant. The examples show the effect of different character sizes and how a common element should be emphasized (Fig. 6).
- Where an element is common to both official languages but does not require emphasis in the context of the message, the common element should appear in each language column of the sign.
Use of proper names requiring a qualifying term
Where a message includes a proper name or other noun requiring a qualifying term, both the noun and its qualifier must appear in each language column. Proper names should be presented as in Jackson Building / Immeuble Jackson, and not run together as in Immeuble Jackson Building. (See also “Names of buildings, structures and sites”.)
Similarly, where a proper name is normally accompanied by a qualifying term, it should not be “bilingualized” by omitting the qualifying term. For instance, a word indicating the type of thoroughfare (Street, Avenue, Boulevard) may not be deleted from an address.
Addresses: functional and concise
Addresses appear on letterheads, envelopes, calling cards, forms, advertisements and signs. The address may be required for mailing purposes, to allow contact in person, or both. The following guidelines are intended to promote the use of functional identification and, wherever possible, to limit the amount of text that an address contains. In the case of mailing addresses, the requirements of the Canada Postal Standards must be met and are reflected here.
Careful consideration should be given to the use or purpose of an address: Is all the text essential? Is some information non-essential but useful? Are certain details redundant? A concise address is easier to transcribe and more efficient for mail processing. Generally, an address consists of:
- functional identification (service title, title of an individual, applied title); and
- geographic identification (room or floor numbers, building name, street address, place name, province or territory, and postal code).
An address may be shortened by determining whether it includes:
- Non-essential information, such as a building name where the street address provides adequate information, or a room or floor number where the signage system serves to indicate specific locations;
- Redundant information, such as the name of an organizational unit that expresses the hierarchy but serves no purpose in identifying the location.
Commonly used terms
To assist users of this manual in developing an English and French version of an address, the terms most commonly used have been included in Appendix A of this section.
The following pertains to printed return addresses for items such as envelopes, letterheads, forms and calling cards. For locations outside the National Capital Region an address generally consists of the applied title which appears in the signature, plus:
- service title, if required;
- area identification (e.g. floor, building name), if required;
- street address, P.O. box number and station, if required;
- place name, province or territory (or country): and
- postal code.
Examples of typical addresses are shown below (Fig. 7).
Addresses for the National Capital Region (NCR)
Centralized mail processing for NCR locations identified by a “K1A” postal code makes the use of a street address, building name or area identification redundant. A return address generally consists of the applied title which appears in the signature, plus:
- service title, If required;
- place name, province (or country); and
- postal code.
Printed return addresses for offices located in Quebec using a “K1A” postal code should show the actual place name, not ‘Ottawa”.
The following examples show the presentation of addresses in both official languages, optional use of a bilingual address and layout options (Fig. 8).
Return envelopes, Business Reply Mail
When both official languages are used for such items, the preprinted mailing address should be presented as illustrated (Fig. 9). The service title (if required) and the applied title shall appear in both official languages. The remainder of the address should appear in the official language of the majority of the population in that province or territory. Generally, the upper left corner of the face of the mail piece is reserved for the return address of the sender.
Visibility, legibility, readability and comprehension have an effect on the communications value of a sign. Described here are aspects of message content, readability and comprehension.
Several factors make sign communications distinct from most other media. The following principles apply when determining a message:
- Brevity: maximum of five units of information per language;
- Clarity despite brevity;
- Familiarity of words (short, familiar words help comprehension);
- Equivalence in meaning of texts in each of the official languages;
- Context: much of the meaning of a sign is derived from the environment, and therefore self-explanatory;
- Logic in the sequence of the message elements;
- Distinction between main and secondary message;
- Consistency within a signage system;
- Impact of a sign on its environment.
The following guidelines and examples show how these principles should be applied.
Primary identification signs
In general, primary signs that identify services provided directly to the public should contain functional information about the location, the service offered, or both. A message may vary depending on the type of facility or site, its location, the services provided, and the type of occupancy, single or shared.
Determining the message
When determining a message, the following questions should be asked:
- What is the most effective method of helping the public to locate the facility and gain access to the services offered?
- What information is available to the public about the address of the location or services provided (e.g. listings in telephone directory “blue pages” or an index to federal programs and services)?
- What information is implied in the context of the environment and would appear redundant as part of the message (e.g. a place name)?
- Should a service title, an address, a building or place name, or a combination of these be used?
- What limitations are imposed by sign dimensions, placement, and therefore message length?
- Is an advance sign required and should the message be segmented to appear on separate, successive signs?
- Should part of the text be emphasized to distinguish the main message and what is the effect on reading distances?
Generally, there are a number of options when determining the message content. The process from initial draft (Fig. 10) to a number of layout options is described below (Fig. 11).
Identifying the service
Service titles should be used where a description of the services offered or the functions performed appears to be more effective than a message pertaining to the location. Service titles are often used to identify single occupancy facilities or sites (Fig. 12).
Identifying the location
In many instances, a message pertaining to the location of a facility is recommended, and this applies in particular to multi occupancy buildings. A visitor looking for a particular location normally searches for an address, a building or place name and seeks confirmation on a sign identifying the destination. A decision on whether to include the street address or the building name should be based on what information is provided through existing signs other than FIP signage (a street number, a building name) and how visible these other signs are in relation to the location of the primary identification sign. Normally, the message should complement rather than repeat information that appears elsewhere.
It may be helpful to include the street address on the primary sign, if the location is generally known by the address, i.e. the number (Fig. 13). However, in cases where the street number appears prominently near the entrance, a repeat on the primary sign may be redundant.
Use of a place name may be essential to identify sites such as airports or parks. Conversely, it may be redundant to include a place name with a function or a service title. Examples are messages such as “Peterborough Public Wharf” or “Winnipeg Regional Office”; in the context of a sign, a distinction between other wharves or other regional offices is normally not required (Fig. 14).
The use of building names on primary signs is subject to the following considerations:
- Any Crown-owned building or other structure that has been named after a person shall be identified by that name on the primary sign.
- Any names (other than those described under (a) above) that appear in the form of architectural lettering or on commemorative plaques can be considered as distinct from the functional and corporate identification provided by signs. Repeating such a name on the sign may not be required.
- General terms such as “Federal Building” or “Government of Canada Building” are not recommended for primary signs. These terms may be redundant in the context of the federal signature and wordmark.
- Special considerations apply to the use of names of leased buildings.
Apart from any other requirements governing the use of names, it should first be
determined whether the name of the building should be used at all.
To identify the location, the street address rather than the building name is recommended. In fact, in many instances, the name appears already on the face of the building, and therefore should not be included on the primary sign. An exception to this rule would be a case where the name is essential to identify a location clearly, such as a number of separate units or entrances of a building complex (e.g. as in the case of “Place de Ville, Tower A” in the National Capital Region).
Messages on a directory board complement the primary sign by listing the organizations, programs or services and their location within a facility (Fig. 15).
Analyzing the needs
A multi storey building may require a main directory board at the entrance with secondary boards at internal traffic junctions such as elevator lobbies. The main board provides general information on the occupants, and details are listed on the secondary board. An analysis is required to determine;
- What information is required most frequently by visitors?
- What information must appear on the main board and what information should be provided at internal traffic junctions?
- What is the most suitable sequence for the listing?
The text for a directory board should be concise and descriptive. Listings should begin with a key word to facilitate access. A directory board is not an organization chart and terms describing the hierarchy may often be avoided without loss of clarity. For example, listings such as “Health and Safety” or “Education, Training and Development” may not need to be qualified by a word such as Branch, Division or Section.
Titles of officials may appear on a directory board if it is an operational requirement. For example, the main directory board may identify the office of deputy minister or other senior official and list the names of programs and services; the titles of other officials would appear on the secondary board, as required.
Message organization and sequence
The length or complexity of the text and the operational requirements should be considered when determining the most effective order of the listing. The sequence may be arranged by:
- frequency of use by the public;
- area (e.g. beginning with the ground floor or the top floor);
- an organization’s hierarchy (e.g. beginning with the title of a senior official or the main organizational unit); or
- alphabetical order (for each official language).
These signs supplement the information provided by the primary identification sign or directory board and form part of the signage system (Fig. 16).
Operational signs indicate the location of service, identify an area. provide information or direction, or identify the occupant of a room or work station (name plate). See section 4.3 for additional examples of these signs.
These signs provide on site information about government programs or projects (Fig. 17). The message on such a sign should be a clear and concise statement that tells the public about the nature of the program or project and, where applicable, the level of the government’s contribution.
The message, and the terminology used, should be meaningful to the local population. The text should not refer to government instruments, agreements or organizational units, unless they have special meaning for the public.
Official languages: style
Certain rules of style pertain to applications of the FIP in general and are brought together here to assist in the preparation of messages. It is beyond the scope of this section to treat the subject in depth, and readers should consult standard reference books for comprehensive information. A list of suggested titles is shown in the “Bibliography”.
The applied titles of federal organizations and the official titles of ministers are listed in Appendix A “Titles of organizations” of Chapter 470.
In general, abbreviations should not be used in applications of the FIP except where space is limited, such as on calling cards. Consult Appendix A of this section for the abbreviated form of terms commonly used in addresses.
For the official initialisms and acronyms of federal organizations, consult Appendix A of Chapter 470.
French texts shall include all orthographical signs required by words (i.e. accents on both upper and lower case characters, cedilla, diaeresis). As a temporary measure, this rule does not apply to certain computer-generated texts where it is not yet technically feasible.
Questions on the use of capitals often arise from certain distinctions between English and French usage. In French usage, the same rules apply whether the words in question occur in a prose text or in a title or heading. In English usage, the rules for capitalization within prose passages differ from those for titles, headings or inscriptions. In the latter case initial capitals are used not only for the first word but also for all other words except articles (a, an, the), prepositions, and conjunctions.
In the English part of FIP applications, the capitalization rule for headings or for prose texts may be used. However, once a method has been chosen, it should be applied consistently throughout (e.g. within the same system of signs). The examples show the effect when applying either of the two methods (Fig. 18).
The rules of punctuation differ in English and French in certain respects. The typical differences relevant to FIP applications are described briefly below. A more comprehensive treatment of these and other rules of punctuation may be found in the style guides listed in the “Bibliography”.
To indicate a quotation, English uses these symbols “ ”, whereas French usage requires these « ». (Fig. 19).
Writing an address
The following rule applies to a place name lowed by the name of a province or territory. In French, the name of the province or territory is enclosed in parentheses, while a comma is used in English to set off the name (Fig. 20).
Writing of compound proper names
In English, a space is normally used between proper names, whereas French usage gene; a hyphen. The appropriate convention should be followed when writing the names of provinces, cities, streets and buildings in FIP applications.
Points of the compass
The following rule applies to addresses in FIP applications. When the east, west, north, south are used with a street should appear with initial capitals. In both French addresses the cardinal point appear name of the street (Fig. 21).
The all numeric form of dating is concise and may be particularly appropriate on documents that are presented in both official languages.
The format recommended is in accordance with CAN/CSA Z234.4 76 (Canadian Standards Association) and ISO 2014 (International Organization for Standardization). The standards prescribe the all numeric writing of dates in descending order: year, month, day.
The year, month and day are separated by either a space or short dash as illustrated (Fig. 22).
Time of day
On documents, notices and signs presented in both official languages, it may be desirable to use the 24 hour system for representing time of day.
The recommended method is in accordance with CAN/CSA Z234.4 76 (Canadian Standards Association) and ISO 3307 (International Organization for Standardization).
The hour is represented by a two digit number ranging from 00 up to 23 (or 24), and the minute and second are represented by a two digit number ranging from 00 up to 59. The colon is used as separator between hour and minute and between minute and second, as illustrated (Fig. 23). As required, time of day may be expressed in hours and minutes only.
The instant of midnight should be represented (when seconds are included)as either 24:00:00, the end of one day, or 00:00:00, the beginning of the next day, according to circumstances.
The internationally recognized symbols of time, h for hour, min for minute and s for second should be used when expressing a measured time duration (Fig. 24).
Official languages: use of names
The use of names for buildings, sites and streets as well as geographical names is described below. Certain rules shall be observed when developing an appropriate version in each official language of a message containing such a name.
All inquiries about terminology related to names or their translations should be directed to the Terminology Directorate, Department of the Secretary of State of Canada.
Names of buildings, structures and sites
The principles set out below are intended to clarify FIP policy on the use of the official languages in names for Crown owned buildings, structures or sites. These principles apply to the naming of all Crown owned real property. Where possible, they should also be observed when selecting a name for a building to be leased by the Crown with an option to purchase.
Use of the official languages when selecting a name
The following guidelines apply to all new names for Crown owned buildings, structures or sites. The selection of a name must take into account that a version in either official language is required. Before adopting a name, careful consideration should be given to its various components, including the way it will reflect the equivalence of the two official languages.
When selecting a name, it is important to be aware of the distinction between its “generic” and “specific elements. For example, in the name Jackson Building, the word Building is a “generic” element, whereas Jackson represents the “specific” element (the equivalent in French being, in this case, Immeuble Jackson). Normally, only “generics” have a version in either official language, since the “specific” component usually consists of a proper noun that cannot or must not be altered. Thus, a reliable way of ensuring that either official language is reflected in at least part of a name, is to include in it a “generic” component that has a counterpart in the other official language.
The following are among the more commonly-used “generics” for buildings and sites: in English, Building, Tower, Complex, Centre, Place, and Square; in French, Immeuble or Édifice (see below), Tour, Complexe, Centre, and Place.
Theoretically, it is possible to devise names for buildings or sites that are entirely “specific”, i.e. they contain no true “generic” or they do not necessarily lend themselves to a straightforward reformulation in the other official language. (L’Esplanade Laurier and Les Terrasses de la Chaudière, names of buildings found in the National Capital Region, may be viewed as examples.) However, when naming a Crown-owned building or site, there should be compelling reasons for a federal organization to select a name that does not reflect both official languages in some acceptable manner.
Translation of the word “building”
The character of a particular structure determines whether the term “building” should be rendered in French by the word “immeuble” or by “edifice”. Generally, the term “immeuble” is used for all urban, multi storey buildings used for administrative, commercial or residential purposes. The word “edifice” should be reserved for buildings significant for their architectural style and size, or for buildings that are representative or characteristic of the purpose that they serve, such as the Supreme Court or Parliament Buildings.
Described here are cases where certain terms of an address may or may not be translated, depending on whether the term forms part of the official name or not.
Generally, a term indicating a type of public thorough fare such as Street, Avenue, Boulevard, or rue, avenue, boulevard, should be translated into French or into English, as the case may be, except in cases where the term forms part of the official name of the thoroughfare.
When the French terms Avenue (1re, 2e, etc.), Belvédère, Carrefour, Centre Chaussée, Chemin, Côte, Cour, Cours, Faubourg, Mail, Montée, Principale, Promenade, Quai, Rang (1er, 2e, etc.), Rue (1re, 2e, etc.), Place and Terasse are part of the official name of the thoroughfare, they should not be translated.
Similarly, when the English terms Avenue (1st, 2nd, etc.), Centre, Circle, Court, Crescent, Drive, Garden, Main, Parkway, Range, Road, Square, Street (1st, 2nd, etc.) and Terrace are part of the official name of the thoroughfare, they should not be translated.
Inquiries about the official name of a public thorough-fare should be directed to the appropriate municipality.
The federal government’s position with respect to geographical names is that their official form is the one adopted by the provincial, territorial or federal authority in whose jurisdiction the entity lies and endorsed by the Canadian Permanent Committee on Geographical Names.
For the purposes of the federal government, some geographical names have official forms in both English and French, including some geographical entities of Pan Canadian significance listed in Treasury Board Circular 1983-58.
Inquiries regarding the translation of geographical names should be addressed to the Terminology Directorate, Department of the Secretary of State of Canada.
Names of provinces and territories
The official translation of the name of a province or territory shall be used as applicable. (See Appendix A.)
Names of other governments or institutions
Where the name of another government or an institution is to be included in a message presented in a side by side bilingual format, that name may be in French or English, or both, as required by the other government or the institution concerned.
The Canadian Style: a guide to writing and editing.
The Department of Secretary of State of Canada.
Toronto: Dundurn Press Ltd. 1985.
The Chicago Manual of Style.
13th ed. rev. and expanded, Chicago:
University of Chicago Press 1982.
White, Jan V. Editing by design.
New York: R.R. Bowker Co., 1974
For additional references see the bibliographies of the works cited above.
Appendix A – Commonly used terms
The following list is intended to promote consistent terminology in both official
Entries appearing in the light typeface indicate the abbreviated form or, as the case may be, whether the term should be written in full in all instances. Generally, abbreviations should be used only where space is very limited, such as on a calling card.
British Columbia B.C.
Colombie-Britannique C. B.
Building Bldg. (see note)
Immeuble imm.; édifice
Honourable, The The Hon.
honorable, L’ L’hon.
Member of Parliament M.P.
Membre du Parlement député
New Brunswick N.B
Northwest Territories N.W.T.
Territoires du Nord-Ouest T.N.O.
Nova Scotia N.S.
Post Office Box P.O. Box
boîte postale b.p.; case postale c.p.
Prince Edward Island P.E.I.
Privy Councillor P.C.
Membre du Conseil privé c.p.
Right Honourable, The The Rt. Hon
très honorable, Le Le très hon.
bureau bureau; porte porte
Rural Route R.R.
route rurale r.r.
Station (postal facility) Stn.
succursale (postale) succursale
Station (scientific research facility) Stn.
station (établissement de recherches scientifiques) station
porte (pour ensemble de bureaux) porte
Yukon Territory Y.T.
Territoire du Yukon T.Y.
The distinction between the terms “édifice” and “immeuble” is described under “Names of buildings, structures and sites”.
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