1.1 Design: Symbols, typography signatures, colour
FIP Manual, October 1990
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 September 1987 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 2: 1:1.5 Ratio (data in points)
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 4: 1:3 ratio (data in mm)
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.
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