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Design Guidelines

Logo Marks

As of 2017, All CSUN logos must have the registered trademark "®" symbol. New versions of the logos can be found on the downloads page.

CSUN LOGO guidelines


The CSUN logo must be included on all external and internal marketing collateral, including print pieces, online ads, multimedia production and other media. This will help to establish the institutional identity and clearly link any campus entity’s good work to that of the university.

The University’s wordmark is a custom serif logo that was inspired from the idea that CSUN is a source of elevating impact, connecting the Valley and surrounding region. The ligatures – or connections between the letters – represent the connection between CSUN and the community. The form between the letters is curved to represent the arches in the CSUN seal..

The balance of both thick and thin line weights in the letter forms were inspired by the idea of sunlight seeping through the wordmark. The connection between only the last three letters also emphasizes the pronunciation of the mark (“see sun”).

In addition to our official name, the use of “CSUN” has grown in popularity as it uniquely distinguishes our University from other CSU campuses and regional universities.

It is the only pronounceable acronym in the entire CSU system; “sun” conveys the weather, warmth and energy of the region; sun imagery has been used in the official seal since the University’s founding as well as for student publications such as the Sundial and the Sunburst annual yearbook; and the sun is an apt metaphor for the light that knowledge sheds.

The form between the letters that connect them also represent the arches in the CSUN seal. The wordmark is then juxtaposed with the full name creating a balance of a modern and institutional logo.


CSUN Logo Lockup



Secondary Marks

A system has been developed to identify specific colleges, departments, centers, auxiliaries and other affiliated campus entities. To differentiate the secondary marks from the official CSUN lockup, we use Sentinel as the typeface and a combination of red and black. The scale and weight of the associated mark depends on the length of the name, specifically, whether the name takes up one, two or three lines. Additionally, emphasis can be given to a portion of the name by alternating between the bold and regular weights of the typeface. The Marketing and Communications department will create the approved sub-identity marks in consultation with campus partners. Please contact M&C to request a new secondary mark. Existing secondary marks outside of this system will be evaluated moving forward.


When pairing the CSUN logo with another brand, such as VPAC, each entity should have an equal visual weight. The hairline separation is extended one more unit above and below the line used in secondary marks in order to make each entity stand on its own. This guideline also relates to off-campus organizations, co-sponsors and other partners.





The official Seal of California State University, Northridge depicts the San Fernando Valley’s heritage of mission settlement, the mountain ranges that bound the Valley, the sun, and a crow quill pen and paper, encircled by the words “California State University, Northridge” and “1958.” Except on business collateral, use of the Seal is optional on publications as shown. The University Seal can be reproduced in any of the official University colors, but is traditionally reproduced as all red and white with black type.







The official wordmark should appear in a prominent position, preferably in the bottom right on all communications. The wordmark should not be used as body copy in ads, fliers, or other publications. It should be placed prominently and separate from other copy and/or elements in all layouts.


This page outlines the appropriate color usage of the CSUN logo and its variations.Correct Usage of Logo Marks



Incorrect CSUN LOGOS

As was the case with the CSUN Oviatt library banners, these guidelines may require modification to allow for appropriate placement. Ideally, the Matador should not be flipped, nor should the CSUN logo be split up into four letters. For exceptions to the guidelines, please contact the Marketing and Communications office.

Photo of the Oviatt Library with display banners.



Stationery should be consistent campuswide. Please note the specific placement of each element. The official wordmark is placed prominently on the upper-left corner of each stationery item. The address block is left-aligned at the bottom. On the envelope, the department, college and address block is placed below the wordmark, noting the required area of isolation. On the business card, the individual’s name and degree(s) are placed beneath the wordmark. The areas of affiliation and college are left-aligned above the contact information. The secondary mark may be used on the reverse side of the business card.


This image shows an example of a sub-identity letterhead.

Email Signature


An email signature is a good way to connect to the institutional identity. The preferred email signature is the full campus logo including California State University, Northridge. Your email signature should also include pertinent contact information including name, title, address, phone, fax, email and website. You can customize your contact information based on your needs.

To create an email signature in Outlook, go to the Preferences menu and follow the instructions to create your email signature.

Email Signature Guidelines

Color Palette


CSUN Red and Black are the “hero colors.” As such they should always play an important role on the page. Whether it’s highlighting the message or the most used color in a layout, these colors could be applied in various ways. Always use both colors for every audience and on all brand materials.


Pantone 186C

C:11 M:100 Y:90 K:2

R:210 G:32 B:48

Web: #D22030


C:75 M:68 Y:67 K:90

R:0 G:0 B:0

Web: #000000


You may use the secondary colors as background colors or “highlight” moments on a page. Pick and choose which colors work best for your layout. You do not need to use every secondary color on a spread. At times you may choose to not use any secondary colors. They are only to help with visibility on a page when red, black and white become too limiting.

Secondary Red

Pantone 7417

C:4 M:86 Y:87 K:1

R:230 G:75 B:54

Web: #e64b36

Cool Grey 11

C:65 M:57 Y:52 K:29

R:85 G:86 B:90

Web: #55565a

Medium Grey

Cool Grey 6

C:34 M:29 Y:29 K:0

R:171 G:169 B:169

Web: #a9aba9

Light Grey

Pantone 441

C:26 M:16 Y:20 K:0

R:189 G:197 B:195

Web: #bec6c3


This palette is designed to only be used in subtle areas that complement the Primary CSUN Red and Black and secondary palette. Often only a small amount is needed and should never over power the primary palette. These colors often work good in overlay moments with photography or mixed in a gradient with the primary palette. Each color’s tint can be reduced to get the desired mix that works best with the Primary CSUN colors.

Sea Green

Pantone 3252

C:47 M:0 Y:24 K:0

R:130 G:206 B:201

Web: #82cec9


Pantone 7451

C:43 M:31 Y:2 K:0

R:146 G:161 B:205

Web: #92a1cd

Golden Yellow

Pantone 136

C:1 M:27 Y:76 K:0

R:253 G:191 B:86

Web: #fdbf56


Pantone 526

C:77 M:82 Y:9 K:1

R:91 G:76 B:147

Web: #5b4c93


Pantone 2985

C:71 M:18 Y:1 K:0

R:44 G:165 B:218

Web: #2ca5da


Pantone 7527

C:15 M:13 Y:21 K:0

R:216 G:210 B:196

Web: #d8d2c4

Color Usage


If you would like, you may use as few as three colors, the primary CSUN red and black and a neutral color (or white). Using red as the main background color will help give your design the bold CSUN pride that it needs, especially applicable for undergrad, graduate and alumni audiences.

The color palette with athletics uses both primary and secondary reds as an overall gradient, which implies movement and pulse. The other secondary colors used are cream and tan, helping give it a warm, life-like quality.

Above is an example of using the primary colors as accent colors. The red rise arrow, paired with the secondary and tertiary palette, acts as an indicator to guide the reader towards the main message.

This example shows how a blending of the tertiary colors can serve as a basis for a layout and will allow for the main palette to stand out on top.


Do not tint or screen back the primary CSUN red. To ensure the message is clearly readable, avoid using tone on tone colors.

Do not use the old red (PMS 201) in the color palette. Avoid using it on anything from athletics to internal marketing materials.

The secondary and tertiary colors should only be used to support the primary CSUN palette. When creating layouts, establish the primary colors first, then when necessary, use the additional palettes.



Like colors and imagery, fonts play an important role in the visual aspects of the university’s identity. The only typefaces that should be used moving forward are those listed below. It’s important to keep the brand unified by using ATC Overlook and FS Lola whenever possible. Especially on all outward-facing marketing or advertising.

Typography Headline GuidlinesHEADLINE

ATC Overlook should primarily be used for headline treatments. Only use the weights listed below. Using bolder weights will help text feel more like a headline.






FS Lola should only be used occasionally for headline treatments. It would be best used when variation is needed for larger combination headlines. It may also be used for perspective type treatments.

Body Copy GuidelinesBODY COPY

Apex Serif should be used for body copy. This serif pairs well with ATC Overlook and FS Lola, yet allows greater readability in long form copy. Do not use anything too bold or too light, otherwise it will not be easily readable. It should also be set at a size with reasonable leading so that it can be read in large blocks.



Secondary Body Copy GuidelinesSECONDARY BODY COPY

ATC Overlook can also be used for secondary body copy. It can be used to set sections apart from the main copy such as in sidebars, pull quotes and subheads.






If for any reason the fonts ATC Outlook and FS Lola are not available to you, use Helvetica and Georgia as alternate options. These fonts are packaged with the Microsoft Office suite.

Alternate Headline OptionHEADLINES







Alternate Body Copy OptionBODY COPY







Alternate Body Copy GuidelineALTERNATE BODY COPY







Lavendar font example.SCRIPT

Occasionally, a script font can be used for a more formal impression on communications such as a Gala Invitation.





Voltage font example.SECONDARY SCRIPT

This secondary script font can be used in headline lockups to separate two sections of a line. This works well with connecting words such as “yet” and “and.”






There are a few different ways to treat headlines that may range from complex to simple. Please note the examples for each headline application below.

Typography Headline GuidlinesDisplay Headlines
When the headline is used as the main image, use a variety of sizes, weights, etc. to create something that’s visually appealing and calls attention. You may also use light shadows and letter inlines (as shown in “100”) to give the design a 3D effect.
Typography Headline GuidlinesStandard Headlines
For shorter headlines, use a simpler variation of fonts and weights. Scale and italicizing can also be used to emphasize certain words.

Typography Headline GuidlinesPerspective Headlines
At times, vertical treatments can be used to call out specific words (like “work force” shown above). This could also be combined with perspective treatments, to make the type appear to be on a different plane, moving upward. Only use this application when it is the main image on the layout.
Typography Headline GuidlinesAthletic Headlines
For Athletics only, use this layered type treatment to provide a bold aesthetic. The layers underneath should be similar to those shown in the example—outlined letters and solid letters with 50% opacity applied.


Legibility should always be the primary objective of body copy. Ensure body copy is always readable in the space that it occupies.

Body Copy TreatmentsLonger sections of copy should utilize the Apex Serif family to ensure maximum readability. Break up long sections of copy with graphics or text such as quotes in order to keep the page engaging.

Body Copy TreatmentsAs a framing device, when appropriate, use a vertical line on left justified body copy that comes from the top (preferred) or bottom of the page.

Body Copy TreatmentsFor specific callouts, quotes or mentions, arrow-like shapes should be used to contain the body copy.
Body Copy TreatmentsYou can also use italicized type slanted upward. Use this style on callouts and quotes, paired with slanted graphic elements.



Things to Avoid In TypographyDo not use perspective type treatments that lead downward.
Things to Avoid In TypographyDo not use brand elements and type treatments directly over the subject matter.
Things to Avoid In TypographyEnsure that proper spacing is used in all headline treatments.
Things to Avoid In TypographyAvoid using thin type for headline treatments. The identity of CSUN is bold and strong, not delicate.

Graphic Elements


The Rise Arrow The Rise Arrow Treatment Rise Arrow Patterns Graphic Containers


The rise arrow can be used to separate two sections of a layout to call attention to specific headlines or sections of copy by guiding the reader’s eye.

The arrow can be duplicated and layered in ways that help create dimension in the space.

It can also be treated as a three-dimensional object on a page when other dimensional objects are projecting up from it.


This page shows some examples of how the Rise Arrow patterns can be used in layout.

The Rise Arrow could also be used as a subtle background pattern, scaled and sized in various ways. This also tends to work with vibrant color gradients.

When appropriate, the arrow pattern can integrate into the type treatment.

Instead of using the 3D Rise Arrow as a pattern, it could also be fragmented and applied in an organic way. In this example, each rise arrow is split in half and at about 40% opacity with gradients applied. This works great with perspective typography.


This is another example of the rise arrow being fragmented to imply motion. It works best with images that show movement.

Use thin lines that mimic the rise arrow and enclose or book-end vertical headlines.

In some cases, the graphic could extend out in both directions to act as a container for certain imagery. This works best with portraiture.

Use of subtle and tasteful dimension in background elements can help differentiate type as well as other content.


The visual elements of rise can displayed in various ways. One way is by using dimension to give the appearance of certain shapes floating off the page. In this case the rise shape is splitting the image in two parts. The portion of the image in the rise shape is slightly lifted by the use of a drop shadow and slightly nudging the photo to show more perspective.

Dimension can also be created when using large headline moments. From creating a hard dimension of the letter forms and pairing it with a soft drop shadow that adds perspective to the type and creates the appearance of type floating off the page.


Do not use the rise arrow pointing down.

Avoid creating a long shape out of the rise arrows.

Graphic elements should support the message, not take over. Avoid creating elements that distract or overpower the content.

Do not place graphic elements over a person’s face.

Photography and Videography


Portrait Photography Guidelines


Environment and Campus Photography GuidelinesEnvironment and Campus Photography Guidelines


Photography treatments also play a vital role in the CSUN look and feel. These treatments should be viewed as a graphic device that help disparate assets feel more unified.

Photography TreatmentsSubtle color overlays help create energy and support the action of the photography. This treatment works well with undergraduate audiences.
Monochromatic photography should be used for textural backgrounds to help give a layout more context. This is also a good example of where to incorporate more elaborate headline treatments.

Photography TreatmentsIn Athletics, the mix between movement in the photography and more textural overlays frames the content and helps showcase the power and excitement of CSUN athletics.


Things to Avoid In PhotographyDo not use photography with unnatural poses of students studying.

Avoid overused, cliché subject matter such as groups of students gathering on campus lawns.

Things to Avoid In PhotographyPortrait photography should have the correct amount of contrast and always be clear and visible.
Things to Avoid In PhotographyDo not use any images that feel like generic stock photography. Avoid using photos that have white studio backgrounds.


Videos have the power to inspire people, evoke emotion and provide knowledge. Visual storytelling is key to having a well-constructed video. Words and graphics are not enough; the story must be painted visually. Stories should be told with clarity and brevity. Impactful, concise stories with strong visual imagery will leave a lasting impact on a viewer.


Videos should be constructed with some basic elements in mind:

  1. Come up with an idea
  2. Tell a story
  3. Remember people are interested in people


Our videos portray the campus as warm, welcoming and elevating. Visually, shots are a warmer color temperature rather than a cooler temperature. It is important to portray on-screen talent in their best light. Shots of the campus should portray confident and proud students, staff and faculty.


The CSUN logo should only appear in a bumper at the end of the video. The ending bumper will also contain each department’s wordmark. The bumpers are short and concise.



Image Composition layout guidline

Be sure to balance areas that have heavier amounts of copy with areas of rest. This prevents the user from becoming overwhelmed with the amount of content and keeps them engaged. Use a variety of type and image sizes to achieve the desired hierarchy on a page or spread.

Image Composition layout guidline

Elements of each layout should feel cohesive and connected to each other. Notice how the images in the background blend into one another. The use of angles moving upward can also portray the idea of rising as well as frame the headline and content.

Using the identity in a more modular way helps with web usability and simplifies the layout design. The elements on the site are contained within different shapes, complemented by the use of a subtle arrow pattern in the background.

Image Composition layout guidline

Above is an example of how an entire layout can move in the same direction, upward. The shapes containing imagery are also broken up to add visual interest to the page. The typography mimics that same movement, showing headline and body copy treatment in an asymmetrical layout.