Content and Information Architecture Specification: Mandatory elements of the design system

Government of Canada web pages must be easily identifiable as part of Each page must convey the overall brand and feel of, and provide a consistent experience for site visitors.

These mandatory elements were designed to reflect the trusted digital brand of the Government of Canada: modern, open, helpful and credible.

Mandatory elements for all institutions

  1. Styles
  2. Header and footer
  3. Institutional landing page
  4. Other mandatory templates


Apply the following style elements:

Each page shares a common header and footer. That is, the upper and lower parts of a page must look the same.

Every page must use the standard header and footer, except in these situations:

  • Transactional scenarios: Pages where people are engaged in a transactional process such that mistakenly following other links would result in errors, loss of data or accidental termination of the session.
  • Campaigns: Landing pages for external marketing or advertising campaigns. The flexibility in layout allows institutions to match elements of their external campaign with the landing page.

How the header and footer elements may vary in these situations is shown in the tables below.

Global header

Elements of the header. See table for details
Global header requirements
Header element Standard page Campaign page Transactional page

Table 1 Notes

Table 1 Note 1

Transactional web applications must be developed so that people can toggle between official languages on any given page or screen. Some legacy web applications may not have been designed this way. Such applications should be updated to allow this functionality. Until they are replaced or updated, the language toggle can be omitted if its use would result in a loss of data.

Return to table 1 note 1 referrer

Government of Canada signature (linked to home) Mandatory Mandatory Mandatory, but link to home page is optional
Language toggle Mandatory Mandatory Mandatory table 1 note 1
Site search box Mandatory Optional Optional
Theme and topic menu Mandatory Optional Optional
Breadcrumb trail Mandatory Optional Optional
Background colour (white) Mandatory Optional Mandatory

Global footer

Elements of the footer. See table for details
Global footer requirements
Footer element Standard page Campaign page Transactional page
Report a problem Mandatory Mandatory Mandatory
Share this page Optional Optional Optional
Date modified Mandatory Mandatory Mandatory, but can instead be a version number when used for an application
Footer links Mandatory Optional Optional
Sub-footer links

Mandatory Optional Optional
Canada wordmark Mandatory Mandatory Mandatory

Institutional landing page

All Government of Canada organizations and institutions must use this template as the single home page for their institution.

Other mandatory templates

Specific page types use mandatory templates. Consistency in these page types helps people find and accomplish tasks.

  • Theme page: top-level page for each theme, to be used only by theme lead institution
  • Topic page: mandatory for the first 2 levels of topics in the topic tree, optional for lower-level topics
  • Government-wide audience page: to be used only by the institutions managing the government-wide audiences
  • Ministerial profile: to be used for ministers and parliamentary secretaries (also used with modification for heads of quasi-judicial arm’s-length institutions)
  • News products: common layouts for news products such as releases, backgrounders, advisories and speeches

Government-wide templates

There is only one of each of these pages across

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