penn state mark

Visual & Editorial Standards | Graphic Identity System

University Mark

Description and Usage

Penn State Mark

The heart of the identity system is our corporate logo—the University mark. The mark combines a logotype "PennState" with a shield that features the University’s founding date and most recognizable symbol—the Nittany Lion. The logotype and shield are connected by a line that underscores the word "State."

The shield was designed to convey a sense of the University’s history and long-standing commitment to academic excellence. The shield shape itself evokes the heraldic tradition of other well-established universities such as Princeton and Harvard. The founding date "1855" communicates Penn State’s long academic tradition. The Nittany Lion image, a replica of the original statue, carries through as the universal symbol for all Penn State audiences. The net effect is a mark that is both modern and historic, stately and academic, yet distinctive to Penn State’s character.

1855 Shield Lion

The Nittany Lion has been a symbol for Penn State since 1907. The most universally known and recognizable image is that of the Nittany Lion statue, which was sculpted by Heinz Warneke in 1942 as a gift from the class of 1940.

Penn State Black Mark

Only the length of the rule may be adjusted.

The mark is constructed and proportioned in a specific way. Spacing and the size relationship between the shield and logotype have been carefully established and the precise arrangement should not be altered. All reproductions should be made from clear, hihg-quality master artwork or files. The mark may be reduced or enlarged as needed but the elements may not be changed or rearranged. Only the length of the rule may be adjusted. It may be extended to the right as long as needed, or shortened to the minimum dimension, which is no shorter than the length of the "PENN" as it extends beyond the "E" in "STATE."

Penn State Mark Do Nots

Please read captions below to correspond with images from left to right.

Penn State Do Not

Do not use the logotype "PENNSTATE" on its own without the rule and shield.

Penn State Black Shield Do Not

The logotype never is used on its own as a separate element. It exists only as part of the whole mark. The shield, however, may be used as a separate, stand-alone graphic in certain circumstances. When the shield is used separately, it must be a stand-alone element and may not be designed into a new logo or used as part of another logo or graphic.


Signature (Campus Location) Marks

Each Penn State campus has its own "signature" version of the mark. Signature marks include the campus name under the rule, directly adjacent to the right side of the shield.

Example: Penn State Abington

Penn State Abington Signature Mark Collection

Each campus signature mark has been designed and saved as a master file. The campus name is a specific typeface with special kerning and alignment of the type. No other arrangement or style of type may be substituted. Reproductions of campus signature marks should always be made from master files and should not be approximated by pasting in the name of the campus. A complete set of these marks is available in the Image Collection.

Other unit names may be positioned under the rule but should be no closer to the shield than the end of the logotype.

Penn State Mark Unit Name

The Alumni Association has its own special version of the mark, which was designed as part of the original graphic identity system. It is distinctly different than the institutional mark but retains the same character through use of the shield.

Penn State Alumni Association Mark

Aligning the Mark

When working with the mark in a layout, keep it aligned with margins and other elements using the natural alignment points. The most common arrangement is to align the mark flush left with the edge of the logotype and align text or body copy with the left side of the shield. When centering the mark, align it on the center axis through the point of the shield. When the mark is centered, it usually works best to trim the rule to the minimum length.

Aligning Penn State Mark


Reversing the Mark

Reverse Penn State Mark

When the mark is reversed (when it appears white against a dark background), the reverse artwork must be used to achieve a correct reproduction. Reversing the regular artwork results in an incorrect version of the mark. An incorrect reverse is easy to spot—the background of the shield is white and the lion and 1855 are black. The reverse artwork produces a shield with a black background that is outlined in white, with the lion and the 1855 also in white. The reverse artwork also should be used for embosses of the mark. Note that the reverse artwork should never by used positively (printing dark against a light background).

Incorrect Reverse Penn State Marks

Incorrect Reverse Penn State Mark Outline

Another option when using the mark against a dark background is to reverse the logotype and rule and use the regular artwork for the shield by differentiating the background of the shield in a lighter shade or another color. The rule of thumb is that the detail within the shield—tthe lion and the 1855—tmust always appear white. In these cases, there is no outline rule around the shield.

Reverse Penn State Mark with differentiated background


Penn State Colors

Penn State colors are dark royal blue (PMS 287) and white. A lighter blue (PMS 285) is used as an accent color. Black and gray (PMS 424) are used as supportive colors.

Please read PMS color codes below to correspond with images from left to right.

Penn State Color Boxes and PMS codes

The most standard color version of the mark is two-tone blue with the logotype and rule in PMS 287 and the shield in PMS 285. The same is true for signature marks with the campus name in PMS 287. The mark also may be printed in other two-color combinations using the accent color and supportive colors, or in any other single color.

Penn State Alternative Marks


Please note that there are some unacceptable color usages:

Unacceptable Color Usage of the Penn State Marks


Contacts Regarding the Mark

The University mark is a registered symbol of The Pennsylvania State University and its uses are strictly controlled by the University.

Questions regarding the University’s graphic identity system or use of the mark may be directed to Department of University Marketing, 814-863-1870.

A complete set of marks is available in the Image Collection.

©2009 The Pennsylvania State University