UW Font Transition

Starting in January 2023, UW–Madison began to transition its official brand fonts from Verlag and Vitesse to Red Hat Display and Red Hat Text. See below for a brief timeline of updates and a detailed Q&A with guidance and resources.

Timeline of updates

January 2023

  • The start of the transition from Verlag and Vitesse to Red Hat Display and Red Hat Text. Visit the Typography overview page for how to download and install the new fonts.
  • Use 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 update them with the new fonts. See more guidance on what materials should or must be updated. And see what resources we have already updated for you.
  • New HTML templates and detailed guidance on how to update the fonts on your website are now available. HTML templates are specific to campus 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 February 16 to refresh 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. The campuswide web license for Verlag and Vitesse expires on this date.
  • All campus sites using Verlag and Vitesse for web copy 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 Verlag and Vitesse for new printed materials or for 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 several years, University Marketing has been renewing an annual license for Verlag and Vitesse for campuswide web use. The cost to license these fonts has increased substantially over the years and is no longer sustainable. The current web license will expire June 30, 2023, and will not be renewed. 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. This is when the campus 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: new HTML templates and detailed guidance on how to update the fonts on your website are now available.

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 more guidance on what materials you should update.

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. 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 have been updated, 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

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 February 16 to refresh 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. The campuswide web license for Verlag and Vitesse expires on this date.
  • All campus sites using Verlag and Vitesse for web copy 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 Verlag and Vitesse for new printed materials or for other uses after this date.
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How do I download and install the new fonts on my computer?

There are two ways to download and install the free brand fonts, Red Hat Display and Red Hat Text.

1. Visit our Typography overview page and click the “Download” button under each font/typeface. This will download a zip file to your computer. Then follow the font installation instructions for Apple Mac computers or for PC Windows computers. Repeat these steps for each font/typeface.

2. Open the BigFixSSA application on your UW–Madison work computer. While in the “Catalog” tab, look for and click the “Install new UW brand fonts (Red Hat Display & Red Hat Text)” item. Then click the “Get” button. This should only take a few minutes. You may need to restart your computer after the installation to see the fonts reflected in programs such as Microsoft Word and Adobe InDesign.

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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.

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.

Recommendations for other supplemental fonts and specific use cases are provided on the Typography overview page.

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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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How do I update our website to use the new brand fonts?

If your website or web application uses Verlag or Vitesse web fonts, you will need to replace them with Red Hat Display and Red Hat Text by June 30, 2023, when our campuswide web font license for wisc.edu subdomains expires.

(Note: If your site includes PDFs or other digital files that use Verlag or Vitesse, these files don’t need to be replaced by that date, though we recommend doing so if possible.)

The process for migrating to the new web fonts depends on your site’s current setup. Most sites fall into one of the following three categories: WiscWeb-hosted sites, UW Theme users (not hosted on WiscWeb), and non–UW Theme users. If you are unsure which category your site falls into, or if you need help figuring out how to implement the new fonts on your site, please reach out to the University Marketing web services team.

WiscWeb-hosted sites

If your website is hosted on WiscWeb, the fonts will be automatically updated for you on February 16, 2023. For a preview of the new fonts in the UW Theme, take a look at the UW Theme site.

UW Theme users (not hosted on WiscWeb)

If your WordPress website uses UW Theme or UW Theme Lite but is not hosted on WiscWeb, you will need to update to the new versions of the themes on or after February 16. If your site is currently running an outdated version of the themes, you may want to factor in some additional time for testing your site when updating the theme. We recommend updating to the current version of the themes before installing the versions that will be made available with the new fonts on February 16. (The current versions are 1.21.0 for UW Theme and 2.4.1 for UW Theme Lite.)

If you are using a child theme to customize the design of UW Theme or UW Theme Lite, you may need to make additional adjustments to your site’s CSS. (See below under “CSS design guidance for Red Hat fonts.”)

Non–UW Theme users

If your website or web application uses Verlag or Vitesse web fonts but does not use the UW WordPress themes, you can download the new font files below. The university’s official HTML templates have been updated and can serve as a reference for migrating to the new fonts. Overall, the steps are as follows:

  1. Replace the font files in your HTML with the new stylesheet link for Red Hat Text and Red Hat Display.
  2. Update your CSS to use the new Red Hat font-family values. Adjust your CSS font-size and font-weight properties per the CSS guidance below.

1. Replace the font files in your HTML

In most cases, your website or application is linking to a CSS file with Verlag and Vitesse font files Base64-encoded into the CSS. The directory and file name for this file was typically provided as /fonts/uw160/fonts.0.0.1.css but your site or application may use a different directory and file name. To migrate to the new Red Hat fonts:

  1. Download the Red Hat CSS font file (.zip).
  2. After opening the zip archive, move the uw-rh directory alongside the old uw160 directory in your codebase.
  3. Delete the old uw160 directory (which has the Verlag and Vitesse fonts in it).
  4. Edit your site or application templates and/or HTML to link to the new CSS font file:

Replace:
<link rel="stylesheet" href="/fonts/uw160/fonts.0.0.1.css">

With:
<link rel="stylesheet" href="/fonts/uw-rh/fonts.0.0.1.css">

Again, your href value may differ depending on how your project is organized.

Additional options:

If you prefer, you can instead link to the CSS font file in an AWS CloudFront CDN maintained by University Marketing. If you do, be sure to include the crossorigin attribute:

<link rel="stylesheet" crossorigin href="https://cdn.wisc.cloud/fonts/uw-rh/fonts.0.0.1.css">

Note: Please do not pull Red Hat fonts into your site by linking directly to Google fonts (i.e., fonts.googleapis.com). Based on recent interpretations of GDPR compliance, we recommend that campus websites self-host Google fonts files. Following the above steps for adding Red Hat fonts to your site meets those self-hosting requirements.

Performance considerations:

For campus sites or applications that want to optimize for the best possible performance, we also provide WOFF2 files of the Red Hat fonts. Linking your @font-face rules to separate WOFF2 files will give the best performance since modern web browsers will only download the specific WOFF2 files needed by a page’s content. For campus sites that are not already optimizing for performance, using the Base64-encoded CSS files above (either the self-hosted or CDN version) will be sufficient. For sites that do want to optimize performance, begin by downloading the WOFF2 files. The downloaded zip file includes eight WOFF2 files and a CSS file with @font-face rules for referencing the WOFF2 files. If you are incorporating these files into your site or applications, adjust the URL path references in the CSS file as needed.

Browser support:

Some older web browsers, notably Internet Explorer 11 and older, do not support WOFF2 font files. These browsers will render text in their system default sans serif font, typically Arial.

2. Update your CSS

In addition to replacing the font files, you will need to update any font-family values in your CSS that were referencing Verlag or Vitesse. You may also need to adjust your font-size and font-weight values to better align with the updated web style standards for campus.

Replace font-family values

In your CSS (or in your CSS preprocessor code; e.g., Sass or Less) replace font-family values for Verlag and Vitesse with Red Hat Text and/or Red Hat Display. Red Hat Text should be the default font-family value for your CSS, often set on the body selector. Red Hat Display should be used for your site title, navigation menus, h1–h6 headings, or any other short, prominent HTML text. Red Hat Text should always be used for any “reading” or body copy, because it is better suited to reading sentence and paragraph copy. The university’s official HTML templates demonstrate the proper use of Red Hat Text and Red Hat Display and can be used as guidance for adjusting CSS styles for your project. (If your site is using Vitesse, you should either switch to Red Hat Display or consider replacing it with a complementary font. We recommend using free, open-source fonts provided by a reputable source such as Google Fonts.)

CSS design guidance for Red Hat fonts

Red Hat Text and Red Hat Display are slightly larger fonts relative to Verlag. This means that you may need to adjust any custom font styling you have done on your site or application. In general, the new official HTML templates (and UW WordPress themes) scale down the font-size of the site title and major headings. The font-weight for major headings and other elements has also been scaled back from the heavier 700 and 800 values used with Verlag. The university’s official HTML Templates can be used as a reference for how to adjust styles. Web developers can access the source files for the templates (including Sass files) from UW–Madison’s GitLab server. If you have questions, please email the University Marketing web services team.

 

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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: 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: new HTML templates and detailed guidance on how to update the fonts on your website are now available.

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 license, you should phase out the use of 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. 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.

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 have been updated for you, 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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What resources has University Marketing already updated?

These resources have already been updated and are ready for use with the new brand fonts (Red Hat Display and Red Hat Text):

DoIT Digital Publishing & Printing Services has also updated stationery templates — including business cards, printed letterheads, and envelopes — with the new fonts.

Check out out our updated brand gallery to see the new fonts in action.

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

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Do I need to reorder stationery and business cards?

No. You should run through your current stock. All stationery templates at DoIT Digital Publishing & Printing (DPPS) have been 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 has already been 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 — is 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.

Visit our Typography overview page for how to download and install the new brand fonts.

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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 have been updated with the new brand fonts.

Visit our Typography overview page for how to download and install the new brand fonts on your computer.

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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.

Visit our Typography overview page for how to download and install the new brand fonts on your computer.

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