UW Font Update

Starting in January, UW–Madison will begin to transition its official brand fonts from Verlag and Vitesse to Red Hat Display and Red Hat Text. See below for a detailed Q&A, and check back in January for full guidance on the transition and instructions for how to download and use the new fonts. If your campus unit currently uses Verlag and Vitesse in your communications and marketing, here’s what you need to know for now. 

What you will need to update

  1. Your website:

    If your website uses Verlag and Vitesse for web copy (HTML text within pages) as part of the campuswide web license, you will need to replace those fonts with Red Hat Display and Red Hat Text by June 30, 2023.

    • If your website is hosted on WiscWeb: the font change will be automatically done for you on February 16, 2023.
    • If your website uses the UW WordPress Theme but is not hosted on WiscWeb: you will need to manually download the new version of the UW Theme on or after February 16 to refresh the fonts. A new version of the UW Theme Lite will also be available on this date.
    • If your website uses UW fonts/design hierarchy but does not use the UW Theme: in January, we will provide updated HTML templates and documentation for updating the fonts on your site.
  2. Your printed materials:

    If you received Verlag and Vitesse print fonts from University Marketing under its license, you should stop using these fonts in new printed materials by June 30, 2023, and start using Red Hat Display and Red Hat Text.

  3. Your digital files:

    If you’ve used Verlag and Vitesse to create PDF documents, PowerPoint presentations, or other digital files, you should strive to update them by June 30, 2023, though it’s not a requirement. The UW’s PowerPoint templates will be updated for you in January.

Timeline of updates

January 2023

  • Start to transition from Verlag and Vitesse to Red Hat Display and Red Hat Text in new printed materials. In general, keep using any materials already printed with the existing fonts (e.g., promo items, handouts, banners) until you run out of supply or it’s time to replace them; then use the new fonts.
  • University Marketing will provide updated HTML templates and documentation for adding the new fonts to existing websites and web applications that have adopted UW fonts/design hierarchy but don’t use the UW WordPress Theme.

February 16, 2023

  • All campus websites hosted on WiscWeb will be automatically updated with the new fonts on this date.
  • If your website uses the UW Theme but isn’t hosted on WiscWeb, you will need to manually download the new version of the UW Theme on or after this date to update the fonts. A new version of the UW Theme Lite will also be available on this date.

June 30, 2023

  • This is the end of the font transition.
  • All campus sites using Verlag and Vitesse for web copy (HTML text within pages) under the expiring campuswide license must transition from those fonts by this date. (Note: PDFs and other digital files hosted on your site don’t need to be updated by this date, though it’s recommended.)
  • You should no longer use those fonts in any new printed materials or for any other uses after this date. 

If you have any questions, please contact University Marketing. We’re here to help you in this transition at every step.

Overview

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Why is this font transition necessary?

Transitioning from Verlag and Vitesse to Red Hat Display and Red Hat Text has become necessary for a few reasons: 

  • Rising costs: For campuswide web use, we originally purchased Verlag and Vitesse with an annual renewable license from Hoefler&Co in 2014. The company has since been acquired by Monotype, which nearly tripled the annual cost of our license in June 2022. University Marketing consulted with the UW’s Office of Legal Affairs, which determined that our previous contract with Hoefler&Co. does not shield us from such rate increases now or in the future. Continuing to license these fonts is no longer sustainable. This web license will expire June 30, 2023. The new brand fonts, Red Hat Display and Red Hat Text, are open source and therefore do not require paid licenses. They will be completely free to use and distribute across campus. 
  • Limited licenses: For print use, due to the high cost, we could only purchase a limited number of licenses to distribute to campus on a request basis. Units with many users have had to purchase their own individual licenses. This model has likewise proven unsustainable over the years and has limited access to Verlag and Vitesse. By transitioning to free, open-source fonts (Red Hat Display and Red Hat Text), we can now ensure that every member of the campus community — from design professionals to professors and students — has access to our feature brand fonts.
  • Campuswide compliance: Given our large and highly decentralized campus, it has proven increasingly difficult and resource-intensive to manage the font licenses and ensure campuswide compliance with the licensing agreements. Moving to these open-source fonts will relieve much of the liability that comes with paid font licenses.
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What do I need to update?

Your website

If your website uses Verlag and Vitesse for web copy  (i.e., as HTML text within pages) as part of the campuswide web license, you will need to replace those fonts with Red Hat Display and Red Hat Text by June 30, 2023 (when the license expires).

  • If your website is hosted on WiscWeb: the font change will be automatically done for you on February 16, 2023.
  • If your website uses the UW WordPress Theme but is not hosted on WiscWeb: you will need to manually download the new version of the UW Theme on or after February 16 to refresh the fonts. A new version of the UW Theme Lite will also be available on this date.
  • If your website uses UW fonts/design hierarchy but does not use the UW Theme: in January, we will provide updated HTML templates and documentation for updating the fonts on your site.

Note: You are not required to update PDFs or other downloadable files on your website that use Verlag and Vitesse, though we recommend eventually updating them for brand consistency. See the question “Do we need to update existing materials that have Verlag and Vitesse?” for additional guidance.

Your printed materials

If you received Verlag and Vitesse print fonts from University Marketing under its limited license, you should stop using these fonts in new printed materials by June 30, 2023. They should be replaced with the UW’s new feature brand fonts, Red Hat Display and Red Hat Text.

If you’re designing new printed materials, we recommend retiring Verlag and Vitesse and using Red Hat Display and Red Hat Text starting in January 2023.

If you have already-printed materials with Verlag and Vitesse (such as handouts, promotional items, or a banner), you should continue to use them until they run out or you naturally retire them. However, once you need to reprint those materials, you should replace those fonts with Red Hat Display and Red Hat Text.

While you are not required to delete Verlag and Vitesse from your computer, you should not use these fonts on any new printed materials after June 30, 2023. Units that purchased their own print license for Verlag and Vitesse may continue to use them, though we recommend a full transition to the new fonts.

Your digital files

If you’ve used Verlag and Vitesse to create PDF documents, PowerPoint presentations, or other digital files, you should strive to update them by June 30, 2023, though it’s not a requirement.

The UW’s PowerPoint templates will be updated for you in January, as well as all the stationery and business card templates at DoIT Digital Publishing & Printing (DPPS).

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When do I need to do the updates?

January 2023

  • Start to transition from Verlag and Vitesse to Red Hat Display and Red Hat Text. This change — as well as detailed instructions on how to access and use the new fonts — will be reflected on the UW brand website in January.
  • More information on what materials should or must be updated or replaced is addressed throughout this Q&A. In general, you can keep using any materials already printed with the existing fonts (e.g., promotional items, handouts, banners) and update the fonts only when it’s time to replace or reprint them.
  • All campus websites using Verlag and Vitesse for web copy (i.e., HTML text within pages) under the campuswide license must replace the fonts by June 30, 2023, at the latest.
  • University Marketing will provide updated HTML templates and documentation for adding the new fonts to existing web sites and applications that have adopted the UW design system but don’t use the UW WordPress Theme.

February 16, 2023

  • Campus websites hosted on WiscWeb will be automatically updated with the new fonts on this date.
  • If your website uses the UW Theme but isn’t hosted on WiscWeb, you will need to manually download the new version of the UW Theme on or after this date to update the fonts (instructions to come). A new version of UW Theme Lite will also be available on this date.

June 30, 2023

  • The campuswide web license for Verlag and Vitesse expires.
  • All campus sites using Verlag and Vitesse for web copy (i.e., text within pages) under this license must transition from those fonts by this date. (Note: PDFs and other digital files hosted on your site don’t need to be updated by this date, though it’s recommended.) If you have any questions about the best way to proceed with the font update on your website, University Marketing web services can help advise you.
  • You should no longer use Verlag and Vitesse in any new printed materials or for any other uses after this date.
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Why did you choose Red Hat Display and Red Hat Text?

Campuswide use of Verlag and Vitesse has become unsustainable due to the high cost of the paid licenses. By contrast, the UW’s new feature brand fonts — Red Hat Display and Red Hat Text — are open source and therefore free to use and distribute.

These new fonts are covered by the Open Font License and Apache License, version 2.0, which grant irrevocable rights to use of the fonts for free in perpetuity as long as the user adheres to the terms of the license. In other words, we can distribute the fonts to everyone across campus, and there will never be any cost to use the fonts.

University Marketing selected Red Hat Display and Red Hat Text after a monthslong process to identify and test suitable replacement fonts. Considerations included: universal access (free with open source license), wide flexibility across print and digital uses (including variable font styles and true italics), display quality (such as consistent height of numerals), and visual distinctiveness to carry the UW brand and capture its personality.

We believe these new fonts will not only suitably replace Verlag and Vitesse — and for free — but also allow for more flexible uses and expressive designs.

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What is the difference between Red Hat Display and Red Hat Text?

The Red Hat Display typeface is intended for larger-scale uses, such as headings on your website and headlines in print. Red Hat Text is designed for better legibility at a smaller scale, which makes it more effective for longer body copy. (We will also be providing an additional font for body copy in print at a later date.)

Both are variable fonts with several preset styles (e.g., light, bold, black) as well as customization capabilities (e.g., weight, slant, width, etc.), providing great flexibility across print and digital uses and high usability for those with little or advanced design experience.

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We don’t currently use Verlag or Vitesse. Do we need to change anything?

No, but now would be a great time to start using official brand fonts (Red Hat Display and Red Hat Text). While you are not required to use the brand fonts, aligning your unit with the UW brand provides the instant recognition and credibility of a world-class institution — and still allows plenty of creative space to differentiate your campus unit. The university’s brand, from the goodwill of Bucky to the unmistakable hue of Badger red, has been carefully cultivated for 175 years across the state and world. Leverage it!

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I purchased a different, unique font for my unit’s campaigns. Do I need to substitute the new brand fonts for it?

No. We chose the UW’s new feature brand fonts, Red Hat Display and Red Hat Text, in part for their significant flexibility, so we believe they can stand on their own for campaigns of all kinds. However, you may use accent fonts in conjunction with them if you’d like. University Marketing can help consult on such decisions.

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We really love Verlag and Vitesse. May we continue to use them?

We strongly recommend that you stay aligned with the UW brand by transitioning to the new feature brand fonts (Red Hat Display and Red Hat Text). You may continue to use Verlag and Vitesse after June 30, 2023, if you wish; however, it is then your full responsibility to independently purchase and maintain the requisite licenses. And remember: visually aligning your unit with the current UW brand provides the instant recognition and credibility of a world-class institution — and still allows plenty of creative space to differentiate yourself, even with shared fonts. Contact University Marketing: we can help show you how.

If you decide to purchase a web license for Verlag and Vitesse on your own to continue using them on your website, please inform the University Marketing web services team. This will help us as we work to ensure campuswide compliance with our expiring license.

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What to Update

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Do I need to remove Verlag and Vitesse from our website?

Yes. If your website uses Verlag and Vitesse fonts for web page (HTML) copy through the campuswide license, you must phase out these fonts by June 30, 2023. This date is when our campuswide web font license expires. These fonts should be replaced with the UW’s new feature brand fonts, Red Hat Display and Red Hat Text.

If your website is hosted on WiscWeb, you don’t need to do anything — the fonts will be automatically updated for you on February 16, 2023.

If your website uses the UW Theme but isn’t hosted on WiscWeb, you will need to manually download the new version of the UW Theme on or after February 16, 2023, to update the fonts (detailed instructions to come in January). If you have any questions about the best way to proceed with the font update on your website, University Marketing web services can help advise you.

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Do I need to remove Verlag and Vitesse from online PDFs, images, or other files that are hosted on our website?

Not technically. The expiring campuswide web license for Verlag and Vitesse only covers web page copy (i.e., HTML text within pages), which means you are not required to update online PDFs, images, or downloadable files hosted on your website. However, we recommend updating these fonts to Red Hat Display and Red Hat Text wherever they exist in digital and printed materials, as time and resources allow.

Keep in mind that PDFs should generally not be used as web content, for usability and accessibility reasons. For more information, read about usability and accessibility issues with PDFs, courtesy of the School of Medicine and Public Health.

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Do we need to update existing materials that have Verlag and Vitesse?

It depends. If you received Verlag and Vitesse print fonts from University Marketing under its limited license, you should phase out the use of these fonts in newly printed materials by June 30, 2023. They should be replaced with the UW’s new feature brand fonts, Red Hat Display and Red Hat Text. While you are not required to delete Verlag and Vitesse from your computer, you should not use these fonts on any newly printed materials after June 30, 2023.

If you have already-printed materials with Verlag and Vitesse (such as handouts, promotional items, or a banner), you may continue to use them until they run out or you naturally retire them. However, once you need to reprint those materials, you should replace those fonts with Red Hat Display and Red Hat Text.

If you’re designing new printed materials, we recommend retiring Verlag and Vitesse and using Red Hat Display and Red Hat Text starting in January 2023.

You should also update these fonts for digital uses outside of your website, such as PDF documents and PowerPoint presentations. The UW’s PowerPoint templates will be updated for you in January, as well as all the stationery and business card templates at DoIT Digital Publishing & Printing (DPPS).

We recommend you prioritize updates in the following order:

  • High priority: Newly created materials (that is, retire Verlag and Vitesse and use Red Hat Display and Red Hat Text in anything you’re creating from January 2023 forward)
  • Medium priority: Public-facing materials that you use frequently
  • Low priority: Internal documents or infrequently used materials
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I just purchased a sign or banner that uses Verlag or Vitesse. Do I need to replace it?

No. We expect there will be legacy materials with Verlag and Vitesse on campus for some time, just as we still see previous versions of the UW crest logo. However, when it’s time to order a new sign or banner, do so using the new fonts (Red Hat Display and Red Hat Text).

For newly printed materials, you should phase out the use of Verlag and Vitesse by June 30, 2023, if you received those print fonts from University Marketing under its limited license.

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Do I need to reorder stationery and business cards?

No. You should run through your current stock. In January, all stationery templates at DoIT Digital Publishing & Printing (DPPS) will be updated to the new fonts (Red Hat Display and Red Hat Text). So when you’re ready to order more business cards or stationery, the work will already be done for you.

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I have a large quantity of printed materials with Verlag and Vitesse left over that I still use. Do I need to replace those?

No. You should run through your current stock. However, when it’s time to reprint them, do so using the new fonts (Red Hat Display and Red Hat Text).

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Do I need to update existing building signage?

No. When it’s time to order new signage, do so using the new fonts (Red Hat Display and Red Hat Text).

Note that campus has official policies and design guidelines for exterior graphics, wayfinding, and other signage. The Department of Campus Planning and Landscape Architecture (CPLA) manages these. CPLA will have access to these new fonts and know what updates are needed on exterior signage when it’s time for replacement.

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I just ordered promotional/giveaway items with Verlag or Vitesse. Do I need to replace those?

No. You should run through your current stock. However, when it’s time to reorder them, do so using the new fonts (Red Hat Display and Red Hat Text).

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Do I need to request a new logo for our unit?

No. Neither the UW’s primary logo nor your official departmental logo uses Verlag or Vitesse. Therefore, UW logos aren’t affected by this font transition and don’t need to be updated.

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Usability

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Who will be able to access the new fonts?

Everyone! Red Hat Display and Red Hat Text are free, open-source fonts, which means that every member of the campus community — from design professionals to professors and students — will be able to access our feature brand fonts for print and digital uses. This is in contrast to Verlag and Vitesse, which required paid licenses that limited access on campus.

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Can I use these new brand fonts in programs such as Microsoft Word and PowerPoint?

Yes! One big benefit of transitioning to Red Hat Display and Red Hat Text is that they’re free open-source fonts, which means anyone can easily download them, use them in programs such as Microsoft Word and PowerPoint, and share the files with colleagues without losing the fonts in translation (as long as they have also downloaded the fonts). No more defaulting to Arial!

In the past, we couldn’t offer PowerPoint templates with featured brand fonts because not everyone on campus could access the paid Verlag and Vitesse licenses. But now we can. The UW’s PowerPoint templates will be updated with the new featured brand fonts in January.

University Marketing will provide detailed instructions on how to access and implement these new fonts in January.

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Can I use these new brand fonts in Adobe software and Canva?

Yes! Adobe software is the industry standard for graphic design and includes InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop, After Effects, and more. The new fonts work seamlessly in these programs. UW–Madison has an enterprise license for Adobe Creative Cloud software, which is free to all university faculty, staff, and student workers.

UW–Madison does not have an enterprise license for Canva, but we understand that many university employees appreciate the ease of use of this product. If you use Canva Pro, you can upload the Red Hat Display and Red Hat Text fonts once they are installed on your computer. However, if you are using the free version of Canva, you can only choose from limited preselected fonts. In our Canva tip sheet, we suggest alternative fonts that you can use in the free version.

If you are familiar with Canva but prefer to use a campus-supported software with the features of a pro account, check out Adobe Creative Cloud Express, which functions similarly to Canva. It’s free and included with campus’s enterprise license for the Creative Cloud Suite. In addition, Adobe Creative Cloud Express allows for the use of our brand feature fonts. University Marketing is working to set up a shareable UW–Madison Brand within Adobe Creative Cloud Express, which will make brand fonts, colors, and elements easily accessible within the program for campus users. More information on that is to come.

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