Abbreviation ( abréviation)

The short form of a department’s title, which is used for written texts, databases and electronic addresses. For the purposes of the Federal Identity Program, abbreviations are usually formed by the initial letters or syllables of keywords, in each official language.

Application ( application)

The act of applying the design standards or general rules of the FIP to an object such as a sign or a vehicle. See Field of application

Applied title ( titre d’usage)

The name of a department authorized for public use following approval of the President of the Treasury Board and registration with the Federal Identity Program. The applied title is used in the signature to identify a department. The applied title clearly conveys the department’s primary function and the fact that the department is a body of the Government of Canada. The applied title is intended for internal and external audiences as opposed to the legal title, which is used primarily in legal documents, such as legislation and contracts. See Legal title

Area identification sign ( panneaux de désignation de secteur)

A sign that identifies a specific section, zone, floor or room. Area identification signs form part of a system that helps users of a facility to orient themselves.

Arms of Canada ( armoiries du Canada)

Also referred to as the Canadian Coat of Arms, and the Royal Arms of Canada, the Arms of Canada is the symbol of Her Majesty the Queen Elizabeth in Right of Canada. It is used in the identification of Parliament, the federal judiciary, ministers of the Crown and their offices, and parliamentary secretaries and their offices. It is used internationally in those applications addressed under the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations. The Arms of Canada is also an official symbol of the Government of Canada and within the public service, a stylized one-colour rendering of the Arms of Canada is used in the identification of institutions whose heads report directly to Parliament, Commissions established under the Inquiries Act, institutions with a quasi-judicial function (their use is subject to the approval of the President of the Treasury Board), ambassadors and heads of consulates or missions, and the Clerk of the Privy Council. The current Arms of Canada was approved in 1994. While previous official renderings of the Arms of Canada (1921, 1957) are no longer actively used, all three representations are treated equally under the laws of Canada and the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property.

Asset ( bien)

See Crown assets



Base line ( ligne de base)

An imaginary line on which the bottoms of capital letters rest.

Blade ( profilé)

An extruded component of a sign stacked to form the surface of a sign or directory board. (This sign component was manufactured according to specific specifications and is unique to the signage system of the Government of Canada.)

Blank line ( ligne de blanc)

A blank space equal to the type size used. For example, a blank line for 10-point type, set solid, is specified as 10 points, but measures 20 points from base line to base line.

Business card ( carte professionnelle)

A card that bears information (name, position title, department, phone and email address) on a government employee.



Calling card, visiting card ( carte de visite)

See Business card

Canada Wordmark ( mot-symbole « Canada »)

See Wordmark

CGSB ( Office des normes générales du Canada (ONGC))

The Canadian General Standards Board, a program of PWGSC, is a standards writing organization in support of economic, regulatory, health and safety and environmental interests of stakeholders.

Coat of Arms ( armoiries du Canada)

See Arms of Canada

Column rail ( rail d’accrochage)

The aluminum extrusion, used in 85 mm signs, which fastens directly to the sign posts and to the blade-end connectors. Its length is determined by the total height of the blades used in the finished sign. (This sign component was manufactured according to government specifications and is unique to the signage system of the Government of Canada.)

Common‑use sign ( panneau d’usage courant)

Any sign with a message related to the facility itself. This type of sign remains valid regardless of changes in the facility’s occupants, e.g. a directory board, a sign relating to fire safety, and signs identifying rooms. See operational sign

Compound signature ( signature composée)

The combination of an official symbol and more than one title.

Corporate identity ( image de marque)

See Visual identity

Corporate signature ( signature ministérielle)

See Departmental signature

Creative approach ( approche créative)

In the context of FIP, a visual style, motif or theme that employs graphic elements to convey general or contextual information. A creative approach can incorporate common elements such as colour, form, typography, abstract imagery or photography, and may be applied to a variety of communications products. In contrast to a logo, a creative approach does not dominate or compete with the official symbols of the Government, and its elements may be replaced or eliminated without loss of the general intent or context.

Crown assets ( biens de l’État)

Any materiel or real property owned or leased by the Government of Canada, including land, buildings, bridges, wharves, monuments, equipment, and vehicles. It does not include work tools, office equipment, and furnishings.

CSA, Canadian Standards Association ( Association canadienne de normalization (CSA))

The Canadian Standards Association (CSA) is a not-for-profit membership-based standards writing and testing association serving business, industry, government and consumers in Canada and the global marketplace.

Custodian department ( ministère ayant la garde de biens immobiliers, ministère administrateur ou ministère gardien)

The department that administers and manages federal real property.



Definite hazard ( danger présent)

A hazard existing in actuality. See Potential hazard

Departmental signature ( signature ministérielle)

The combination of the department’s approved English and French applied title, and its designated identifying symbol (the flag symbol or the Arms of Canada) displayed according to established design standards.

Department ( ministère)

Any of the departments named in Schedule I of the Financial Administration Act; any of the divisions or branches of the federal public administration set out in column I of Schedule I.1; a commission under the Inquiries Act that is designated by order of the Order in Council as a department for the purposes of the Financial Administration Act; or any departmental corporation, meaning a corporation named in Schedule II.

Deputy heads ( administrateurs généraux)

Deputy ministers and chief executive officers or any other title denoting this level of responsibility of any organization to which the Federal Identity Program Policy applies.

Design ( design)

The selection and arrangement of form in order to meet aesthetic and functional criteria.

Design element ( élément de communication graphique)

Any component used in the composition of a graphic design, such as letters, symbols, lines.

Design standard ( norme graphique)

The approved rules on the use of design elements outlined in the Federal Identity Program Policy and the Federal Identity Program Manual. They prescribe elements such as shape, size, layout, colour, typography, and use of symbols.

Die cutting ( découpage à l’emporte-pièces)

The cutting of paper, cardboard or other material (e.g. vinyl) with dies.

Direction sign ( panneau de direction)

A sign that gives directions to a facility, service or organizational unit.

Directory board ( tableau répertoire)

A sign that lists the names and locations of institutions, organizational units, programs and services within a facility.



em ( em)

In typography, a unit of linear measurement whose width varies according to the type size. A 10-point em is 10 points wide, a 12-point em is 12 points wide.

Endorse, endorsement ( appui, appuyer, promotion)

The inference, expression or declaration of a preference, sanction, or favour for any private sector enterprise, organization, activity or product. Endorsements, or the public’s perception thereof, can be created by a department or an individual official through written text, public statements, or use of names, logos and proprietary imagery. Endorsements are commonplace in the private sector because they have commercial value and can provide a competitive advantage. For the Government of Canada, however, providing an advantage to one interest is unfair to all others. It directly conflicts with the public service principle of treating all members of the public with fairness, impartiality and objectivity. Unchecked, the practice can undermine public confidence in the sound administration of federal institutions. An endorsement should not be confused with the fair, objective, and equitable acknowledgement of sponsors, partners and institutions participating in a joint initiative. Nor should it be confused with providing factual public information or data pertaining to contracts or contractors.



Fair acknowledgement ( reconnaissance équitable)

The measure of credit or visual acknowledgement given to a department that is participating in a collaborative initiative — or has provided a grant or contribution — in all related public communications. The term “fair” pertains to the relative and equitable prominence of acknowledgement between participants, and based roughly on individual financial or in-kind contributions. The term “acknowledgement” generally means the display of an official identifying symbol without additional tag lines, promotional text or brand elements. A qualifying text generally accompanies the official symbols describing the institutions as sponsors, participants, contributors or funding organizations. Fair acknowledgement applies to all participants in an initiative to which the Government of Canada is a contributor, regardless if it is a government initiative or one that is initiated by an external non-Government of Canada organization.

Federal Identity Program (FIP) ( Programme de coordination de l’image de marque (PCIM))

The visual identity of the Government of Canada. Similar to the visual or corporate identities of other organizations and private sector companies, the Government of Canada ensures that its institutions, programs, services, assets and activities are clearly identified to the public in Canada and abroad through the consistent use of titles and symbols. FIP helps the Government of Canada meet its democratic responsibility to be accessible and accountable to the public by ensuring its activities are broadly visible and recognizable. Not to be confused with visual motifs or creative approaches developed by departments for published materials, FIP pertains to the official identifying symbols of departments and agencies and prescribes common standards for their use — it helps shape the “face” of government to its own employees and the public they serve.

Field of application ( domaine d’application)

The range of items, intended for internal as well as external use, that bear the departmental signature and the Canada Wordmark, including but not limited to stationery, forms, signage, Web sites and other electronic communications, communications products, personnel identification, and motor vehicles.


See Federal Identity Program

FIP signage ( signalisation du PCIM)

Primary identification signs; common‑use signs; operational signs; and project signs. (Excluded are signs that are subject to a regulation that specifies their design.)

FIP signature ( signature du PCIM)

See Departmental signature or Government of Canada signature

Flag symbol ( symbole du drapeau)

The flag symbol is an official symbol of the Government of Canada used together with English and French applied titles to form a departmental signature for departments, agencies, corporations, commissions, boards, councils, as well as any other federal body or activity. The flag symbol is a graphically modified version of the National Flag of Canada. It is based on similar proportions of the flag, however it is subject to different colour specifications, and contains only three of the four elements of the National Flag (two vertical bars and a maple leaf, but no white field behind the maple leaf). The flag symbol may be easily confused for the National Flag of Canada in some applications, and for this reason, its use and reproduction require access to an approved electronic master file. The flag symbol is protected under the laws of Canada, and internationally under the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property.

Font ( police de caractères)

The complete set of characters for one size and style of type (includes capitals, lower-case characters and punctuation symbols).



Government of Canada signature ( signature du gouvernement du Canada)

The standardized combination of the flag symbol and Government of Canada in both official languages. This signature is used when identifying: multiple government departments, jointly managed programs, materials for government-wide use, or major national or international activities.

Graphic design ( conception graphique)

The creation, planning and presentation of graphic forms for visual communication.

Graphic elements ( éléments graphiques)

The symbols, logotypes, corporate signatures, typestyles, formats and colours; all forms of visual communication.

Graphic symbol ( symbole graphique)

A visual communication device that relies, in whole or in part, upon an abstract or pictorial representation.



Head of communications ( chef des communications)

The senior executive who reports directly to the deputy head and is responsible for the coordination of the communications activities of the department.



ISO, International Organization for Standardization ( Organisation internationale de normalisation (ISO))

ISO is the world's largest developer and publisher of International Standards. ISO is a network of the national standards institutes of 163 countries, one member per country, with a Central Secretariat in Geneva, Switzerland, that coordinates the system.



Legal title ( appellation légale)

The name that appears in the enabling legislation (act), proclamation, order in council, or other legal instrument used to create a branch of government.

Legibility ( lisibilité)

The quality in typographic characters and their spacing that affects the speed of perception: the faster, easier, and more accurate the perception, the more legible the character. (Technicians in typography distinguish legibility and readability: readability signifies the ease of reading the printed message; legibility refers to the speed with which individual characters can be perceived and recognized.)

Lessor ( propriétaire)

Owner of accommodations leased by the Crown.

Location sign ( panneau d’emplacement)

A sign that shows the location of a facility, service or organizational unit.

Any consistently used graphic element that is likely to be perceived by the public to represent a department, a program or a service. A logo interferes with the primacy of the official symbols of the Government of Canada. For the purpose of the Federal Identity Program Policy, the term logo also includes logotype, mark, symbol, emblem, icon, ideogram, brand identifier, stylized letterform and heraldic device.



Markings ( marquage ou repères d’identification)

Pressure-sensitive decals on motor vehicles bearing graphic elements that include signatures, the “Canada” wordmark and service titles or terms identifying the vehicle’s function.

Message element ( élément de communication)

A graphic element that is used to transmit a message (e.g. the Canada Wordmark, a directional arrow or a word).

Motor vehicles ( véhicules automobiles)

Includes passenger cars, cargo vehicles, and special-purpose vehicles.



Name plate ( plaque nominative)

A sign that identifies the occupant of a work station or room. A standard design has been adopted for government-wide use.

Negative ( négatif)

Any graphic element which is reversed from its original form, i.e. light on a dark background. See positive

Normal letterspacing ( espacement normal)

The letterspacing values allotted by the typefont designer or the manufacturer of the typesetting equipment. (Not to be confused with the more common typographical meaning which refers to the placing of additional space between letters).



Occupant organization ( organisme occupant)

The federal organization occupying space in a leased or owned Government of Canada facility.

Official symbols ( symboles officiels)

The three visual identifiers of the Government of Canada are: the Arms of Canada (with or without an accompanying applied title or title of office), the Canada Wordmark, and the flag symbol, used with English and French applied titles in departmental signatures and the Government of Canada signature. The official symbols are protected under the laws of Canada, and internationally under the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property.

Operational sign ( panneau fonctionnel)

Any sign with a message related solely to the operational needs, and hence the responsibility, of the occupant institution. See Common‑use sign



Partnering (Partner)/Collaborative arrangements ( partenariats (partenaire) ou ententes de collaboration)

Joint activities or transactions involving another government, a company, an organization, a group or an individual with shared or associated objectives, with a written agreement to combine financial or in-kind inputs.

Pica ( pica)

A unit of measurement used in typography, approximately 4.2 mm.

Point ( point)

A unit of measurement used in typography, approximately 0.35 mm. Twelve points equal one pica.

Positive ( positif)

Any graphic element that appears in its original form, i.e. dark on a light background. See Negative

Potential hazard ( danger potentiel)

A hazard existing in possibility and capable of developing into actuality. See Definite hazard

Primary identification sign ( panneau d’identification principal)

The first sign bearing the signature and the “Canada” wordmark and identifying a federal facility. It may be for exterior or interior use.

Project sign ( panneau de projet)

A sign that provides information about federal programs or projects, e.g. public works or employment programs.

Public ( public)

All audiences, including employees of the Government of Canada, who may be impacted by Government of Canada decisions, policies, programs and services.



Readability ( lisibilité)

See Legibility

Referent ( référent)

What the graphic symbol stands for.

Regulatory sign ( panneau de réglementation)

A sign that conveys an order (prohibition or mandatory).

Reproduction proof ( contre-épreuve)

A sharp and well-defined photoprint or clean type proof in dense black colour, used for image transfer onto offset plates, engravings, etc.

RGB ( Rouge Vert, Bleu (RVB))

The RGB colour model uses red, green, and blue for video display.



Selective kerning ( crénage sélectif)

The selective reduction of space between certain typeset character combinations; the rest of the setting retains normal letterspacing. When applied to awkward letter combinations (e.g. Te, Av) kerning improves visual letter-fit, overall letterspacing uniformity and legibility of a word, line or block of type.

Service title ( titre de service)

The name that identifies an organizational unit, program or service. It can appear in conjunction with the applied title of the parent institution. See Applied title

Set-width ( chasse; épaisseur)

In typesetting, the width of an individual character, including a space on either side to allow legibility of individual characters when grouped to form words. Measured in units. See Tile width

Shared-cost program ( programme à coûts partagés)

Any activity, project or facility funded by a federal organization and another level of government or a private institution. Also referred to in the context of the Federal Identity Program as a collaborative arrangement or a partnering activity or initiative.

Signature ( signature)

See Departmental signature and Government of Canada signature

Solid ( compact; plein; sans interlignage)

The set of type matter without any additional spaces between lines; it is said to be “set solid”.

Spacing system ( système d’espacement)

A system prescribing the separation of characters and words by the insertion of space.

Special symbol ( symbole spécial)

See Logo

Substrate ( substrat)

A surface on which motor vehicle markings can be applied.

Symbols ( symboles)

See Official symbols



Tactile signage ( signalisation tactile)

A system of raised pictograms, lettering and dome braille, that provides information for visually impaired individuals.

Tile ( carreau)

An assembly consisting of a die-cut character positioned on backing paper trimmed to include the prescribed space on either side of a character on signage.

Tile width ( largeur du carreau)

The width of an individual character on a sign, including a specific amount of space on either side. See Set-width

Title ( titre)

See Applied title, Legal title, Service title.

Type ( caractères)

Letters of the alphabet and all the other characters used singly or collectively to create words, sentences, blocks of text, etc.

Typeface ( style de caractères)

A particular style of type in which the letters and figures have certain characteristics in common. See Type

Typography ( typographie)

The skilled planning of printed matter, including choice of paper format, type face and size, as well as layout of the printed and blank areas to make a balanced and attractive whole.



Unit ( unité)

An arbitrary measurement which for the purposes of signage typeface is based on the division of the x-height into 50 equal portions.

Unit system ( système d’unités)

A system based on unit values used for calculating the length of a line of text.

Unit value ( valeur unitaire)

The number that represents the width of an individual character including a space on either side. The actual measurement varies according to the character size in use.

Unit width ( largeur unitaire)

The width of one unit; varies according to the character size in use. Expressed in millimeters.



Visual identity ( identité visuelle)

Also referred to as “corporate identity,” the unified manner in which an organization, company, or public sector entity visually identifies its presence and activities to the public. The systematic plan generally incorporates elements such as nomenclature, symbols, colour, typography, and graphic standards in a uniform style and which embody the organization’s values in order to project a singular and distinctive enterprise across all areas of activity. The Government of Canada’s visual identity (the Federal Identity Program) is based on public service values and legislated requirements that ensure a fully bilingual and cost-effective visual identity system that provides visual coherence for all Canadians and identifies the activities of government in an objective and non-partisan fashion with the emphasis on service to the public.



Warning sign ( panneau d’avertissement)

A sign that indicates a hazard.

Weight ( graisse)

In typography, the degree of blackness of a typeface. (The designation of weights varies according to the suppliers of typesetting services. In FIP, the weights of the Helvetica family are identified as light, medium and regular.

Wordmark, Canada Wordmark ( mot-symbole « Canada »)

The Canada Wordmark is an official symbol of the Government of Canada. It is required to be used in close association with the Government of Canada signature or a departmental signature (regardless whether the institution’s signature incorporates the flag symbol or the Arms of Canada). The Wordmark is also used in limited instances where extreme physical limitations prevent the use of both official symbols of a department or agency. The Canada Wordmark is composed of graphically modified typeface and the flag symbol. Reproduction of this customized mark requires access to an approved electronic master file. The Canada Wordmark is a protected symbol under the laws of Canada, and internationally under the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property.



“x” ( « x »)

In signage, a unit of measurement equal to the square of the x-height of the character size.

x-height ( hauteur « x »)

The height of the central portion of lower-case letters, such as w, x, z, without either ascenders or descenders. Used to identify character sizes in signage.

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