MSU Extension Templates: Professional Tips & Tools
October 1, 2017 - Author: Marian Reiter, ANR Communications & Marketing
The MSU Extension templates (available in Sharepoint in the MSU Extension/MSUE All Staff section) can help you provide a consistent “look and feel” to your fliers, brochures, and reports within the MSU brand standards. Here are some tips from the professional editors and designers at ANR Creative on how to make the most of these “do it yourself” tools.
- Think of your audiences and use terms they can relate to.
- Be clear and concise – don’t assume that your audience knows anything about the subject.
- Keep your sentences and paragraphs short. Use bullets for lists.
- Spell out acronyms the first time you use them, indicating the acronym in parentheses. For example, Michigan State University (MSU).
- Avoid using personal pronouns (we, my, I.)
- Use “action words” in headlines and subheads to break up text and engage readers.
- Consider how your writing tone can reflect the tone of the MSU brand. For examples, visit the MSU Brand Editorial Content page.
- Make sure to overwrite or remove all the sample text from the template.
- Find someone to proofread your text before you finalize it. It should be someone who has not already read it.
The "fine print"
The MSU Extension templates include the legal statements necessary for most MSU Extension communications (such as the MSU/MSU Extension anti-discrimination and non-endorsement statements and the National 4-H name and emblem and “federally protected” statement).
- For more information on MSU Extension anti-discrimination statement, visit the “Civil Rights/Compliance Resources" page
- For more information on use of the federally protected 4-H name and emblem, visit the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) 4-H Name and Emblem page
- If your program is funded by SNAP-Ed, eXtension or other programs with special statement requirements, check their organizational web sites for most current versions.
THE VISUAL DESIGN
Fonts & Formats
- The MSU Brand guidelines specify the use of the Gotham and Californian type families (these must be purchased) with Georgia, Times New Roman, Helvetica and Arial as acceptable substitutes. (Visit the MSU Brand Design Elements page for more information.)
- For consistency, use the template font styles provided where possible. (The styles created for the MSU Extension templates have “MSUE-” in their names.)
- Use ragged right alignment (column is even on left side of page, but uneven on right) to keep letter spacing consistent in columns.
- The MSU Extension wordmark should appear on all MSU Extension marketing materials. This mark should not be disproportionately stretched or otherwise altered.
- Some events, programs and products may use additional graphic identifiers. MSU event graphics should ideally coordinate with the MSU brand. Contact ANR Creative for professional design assistance.
- Funders may require that their brand marks be used. Make sure they are high resolution for print (not web graphics copied from a web site). Media kits on organizational or corporate sites often provide high resolution logos.
- Colors used in the templates are from the MSU brand palette so they will coordinate with other MSU items. If you wish to add more colors to your brochure, picking from the brand palette will ensure they coordinate well with other materials. (Visit the MSU Brand Design Elements page for the color palette)
- The official green of MSU and MSU Extension is Pantone Matching System ink color 567 (a.k.a. PMS 567)
- The official green of 4-H Youth Development is Pantone Matching System ink color 347 (a.k.a. PMS 347)
- Choose your sharpest, well exposed, high-resolution photos. Resolution should be ideally 300 dpi at the size they will be used.
- Think about the audiences you want to reach and select images that are inclusive.
- Crop unnecessary information out of the photos where possible. Images where the subject is close up generally have more impact.
- Avoid scattering small photos or clipart within the text or around the page. Using a few high quality larger images is a better choice.
- Visit the MSU Brand Design Elements page for more photography suggestions.
- Visit the Michigan State University ANR Communications Flickr site for downloadable images of MSU Extension programs and events.
Readability for All
The MSU Web Accessibility Policy defines the requirements for university web pages and online content. If you post MSU Extension documents online, they must meet MSU’s current accessibility standards for online content.
The MSU Extension templates can be used to produce accessible documents for the web, if you know what makes a document accessible. Considerations include color, contrast, reading order, proper use of lists, alternative text for images, proper use of tables. To learn more, visit the following:
- ANR IT Services Accessibility Rules page provides document guidelines
- MSU’s Web Accessibility website provides tools such as a “Basic Checklist for Online Content Accessibility” and guidelines and tutorials for making Publisher files accessible
If you have questions or suggestions, or would like someone to review your products, please contact ANR Communications and Marketing at:310 Agriculture HallEast Lansing, MI 48824Ph: (517) 432-1555Email: firstname.lastname@example.orgWeb: www.anrcom.msu.edu