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The University of Alabama

Graphic Standards Implementation on Schedule; Executive Staff Reaffirms Support for Visual Identity

In May 1999, The University of Alabama published its first-ever visual identity guide as part of the institution’s move toward integrated marketing communications. The new stationery system it described and the graphic standards it outlined were developed after a thorough process of review and consultation that began with the campuswide 1996 communications audit and included discussions with over twenty focus groups of on- and off-campus constituencies, including faculty, staff at every level, students in all years, and alumni of differing ages. After the proposed graphic standards were presented by Crane MetaMarketing and approved by the deans, vice presidents, and president, the Office of University Relations was charged with working with the campus community to put the new system in place. The goal of the implementation was to help unify and strengthen the visual image that the University’s printed material presented to the world. Since materials were to be replaced with the new designs only as supplies were used up, University Relations projected that the University would achieve 90 percent implementation of the standards within three years.

gs1Based on the results of the campuswide communications inventory begun last fall and reported to the Executive Staff on February 19, the projection was right on target, according to University Relations director Janet Griffith. “We received stationery entries through mid-January and found that 87 percent of campus stationery uses the standard design. Many departments whose stationery is in the old design noted that they are using up existing supplies. On another front, the standing signage for buildings has all been converted to the new design, as has the marking of new vehicles and the retrofitting of many old ones.”

UR’s director of marketing communications, Jan Duvall, noted that the implementation has gone well not only because of the overall cooperation of departments campuswide, but also because of the diligence of departments including University Printing, Facilities, and Fleet Services who had responsibility for major aspects of the on-going implementation. “This has been an above-and-beyond effort for a lot of people — including all the people who filled in the communication inventory forms and sent in their departments’ materials.”

President Andrew Sorensen reaffirmed the Executive Staff’s support for the visual identity program and applauded the campuswide effort to make it a reality. “The result of everyone’s good work is that we have succeeded in creating an updated look that still respects the dignity of the institution and represents its best traditions.”

Reporting to the Executive Staff on the details of the stationery system component of the communications inventory, Duvall noted that while the off-center design of the stationery “is not universally loved, 95 percent of the departments using the standard design demonstrated that they were using the appropriate margins” (see Stationery System Design), and 44 percent were using some variety of Garamond type, as set out in the standards. Eighty-one percent of stationery uses the University seal or a secondary logo as shown at right. Business card compliance stands at 70 percent, again with notation that many individuals are using up existing supplies.

“One thing that became clear through the stationery review was that the system didn’t include standards for some important items — most noticeably, fax cover sheets. Some departments sent in several different ones that they use. We saw that most people are using either a Microsoft Word template for their fax cover sheet or are building an original on their stationery, so we’re putting out some guidelines and resources for standard ways to do that which have no extra costs attached.” (See Fax Cover Sheet, Your Letterhead and Fax Cover Sheet, MS-Word Templates.)

Review of the print publications and Web site entries will continue through April and May respectively. “I’ve about worn out my first pair of glasses,” said Duvall. “But from what I’ve seen so far the new marks have been enthusiastically adopted. The visual identity standards are really prescriptive for the stationery system, are loosely descriptive for print publications, and are almost non-existent for the Web. We’ll be working in the months to come to finish the assessment, award the mini-grants, and work with individuals on their publications. After that, developing better resources for people to use in their Web sites will be next on the University Relations agenda.”

Stationery System Design

gs2Standard components of the letterhead are:

  1. The Alabama I.D. wordmark for your division
  2. The full name of the division represented by the identifier, with the exception of those letterheads that use the “Founded 1831” identifier and of the Graduate School and the School of Law, whose whole names are their identifiers
  3. The full name of the division whose letterhead it is, if that information is not already given in 2
  4. Contact information: physical address, mailing address, telephone number, and fax number, and an e-mail address and a Web site address, as desired
  5. Optional divisional logo or University seal

In addition to the basic contact information, divisions may add whatever information they choose: an individual’s name and title (or a list of individuals and their specific contact information); a list of pertinent data such as programs within a department, departments within a school, or years of national championship rankings; a logo if the division has its own.

Setting Up a Letter

gs4Set these margins for the first page of a letter: 2.5″ on the left, .35″ on the bottom, and at least .35″ on the right. Set your top margin so that the first line of text (usually the date) has the same baseline as the last line of stationery text above the wordmark. The second line of text (usually the name of the recipient) should have the same baseline as the identifier in the wordmark.

For the second and subsequent sheets of a letter, set a left margin of 1.5″, bottom and right margins of at least .35″, and a top margin the same as that on your first page.

Use Berthold Garamond (or whatever Garamond you have) for the text of the letter; depending on the length of your letter, use 10- or 11-point type on standard 12-point line spacing (or leading).

Maintain the integrity of the stationery design by placing all letter text as indicated. Do not put any letter text to the left of the established 2.5″ left margin on the first page.

Business Cards

gs3University Printing Services follows the above grid for all business card construction. A divisional logo, screened at 50 percent, may be used on the back of the card. Goudy Sans Book is used for the divisional description text and the address text: 8-point type, 9-point leading. Goudy Sans Medium Italic is used for the name and title: 10-point type, 12-point leading. Type size may be varied by one point to accommodate longer and shorter entries.

Fax Cover Sheet on Your Letterhead

gs5To set up a fax cover sheet on your letterhead, use the same margins (see left) and typeface that you use for correspondence (Berthold Garamond Regular, or the basic Garamond typeface that came with your computer). The model above uses Garamond BE Regular. The word “FAX” is in 36 pt. type, while the other information appears in 12 pt. type, double spaced. The blank lines are optional.

Fax Cover Sheet Using MS-Word Templates

The fax cover sheet templates available in Microsoft Word can be adapted for use within the graphic standards. The two most often-used templates are the “Elegant Fax” and the “Professional Fax.”

To adapt the “Elegant Fax,” begin by inserting your cursor into the top text box. Go to the “Insert” menu, pull down to “Picture,” choose “From File,” and insert the file ua.bmp, which is the nameplate version of the UA wordmark. (To get “ua.bmp”, send an email request to Go to the next line and type in your division name, then to the next line to type in your department name. Then select what you have just typed and change the font from Palatino to the version of Garamond you are using. Select and change the typeface in the remaining two boxes, making sure at last that all type is in your version of Garamond. Then save your template for future use.

To adapt the “Professional Fax,” begin by inserting your cursor into the top left text box. Type in the information requested; then select all that you have typed and change the typeface to Goudy Sans Book, 10 pt. Next, insert your cursor into the top right text box. Go to the “Insert” menu, pull down to “Picture,” choose “From File,” and insert the file uarev.bmp, which is the reversed nameplate version of the UA wordmark. (To get “uarev.bmp”, send an e-mail request to Go to the next line and type in your division name, then to the next line to type in your department name. Select what you have just typed and change the font to Goudy Sans Book. Go to the final text box, select and change all type to Goudy Sans Book, and then save your template for future use.