Typography choices say a lot about an organization, often before the actual words are read. For this reason, and to provide brand consistency, primary and secondary typefaces have been chosen for use in Michigan State University communications. They convey the bold, forward-thinking tone of the university, while offering flexibility.

MSU units may contact University Communications (UC) to obtain font packages licensed to MSU for use on Michigan State University communications, particularly those directed to primary external audiences, such as alumni and prospective students. To obtain fonts, the MSU unit must register the name of the unit and individual user with UC, which purchases and manages access to the fonts to maximize their use for high-level external communications. Please contact University Communications at comms.contact@msu.edu or 517-355-7505.

Primary Typeface: Gotham (Sans Serif)

The Gotham typeface is a bold, contemporary typeface that evokes MSU’s bold, open, forward-thinking approach to solving problems and providing opportunity. The Gotham type family has many weights, is appropriate for almost any application, and has the flexibility to feel sophisticated yet approachable, modern yet classic. Gotham marks Michigan State University as an institution on the move.

Gotham may be used in both headlines and text. It has been licensed for MSU units to use on university websites. Gotham Narrow may be used for text, lists, and bullets. To learn more, refer to the MSU Web Standards.

Secondary Typeface: Californian 

Californian is a bold, classic typeface that takes its cues from the ancient Spartans and reflects MSU’s epic, heroic quality. It is recommended as an alternative to Gotham for headlines and small blocks of text.

sample of the californian typeface

Font Substitutions for Print and Digital Media

When a serif font is desired for text to maximize readability, the Georgia typeface or Times New Roman may be used.

The Gotham typeface has been licensed for units to use on MSU websites. To learn more, refer to the MSU Web Standards.

Type Usage


Set headlines in any of a variety of Gotham typeface weights and sizes or Californian Bold. Headlines generally should be set in all caps, regardless of which font is used.

  • Gotham Bold or Gotham Ultra work well to distinguish headlines set smaller from text and subheads in the same font.
  • In designs that allow for airy negative space around the headline, thinner versions of the Gotham typeface, including Gotham Book and Gotham Thin, are effective.
A Spartan branded poster that shows a man leaning against a shed structure in an agricultural field

Headlines within Photography

See example above.


Due to its clarity and ability to stand out, Gotham typeface is recommended for subheads.


Text may be set in either Californian or Gotham.

  • For serif type, text should be set in Californian Text Roman. Georgia typeface or Times New Roman may be substituted.
  • For sans serif type, Gotham Book or Gotham Narrow Book is recommended. 

Bulleted and Numbered Lists

Occasionally, type will be set within a Spartan shield graphic to communicate pull quotes, facts, or figures about Michigan State University or to make calls to action. Although either Californian or Gotham may be used, Gotham is recommended for the sake of overall legibility.

Using the Spartans Will. Tagline

graphic that says "Who will? Spartans Will."

Michigan State University’s official tagline is a uniting theme that communicates our value and purpose in a common language. It’s a call to action that differentiates MSU from other universities and speaks to who we are and what drives us.

The “will” carries a powerful double meaning. As a verb, it reflects action and the work that Spartans do every day to make a difference. As a noun, it describes the tenacious and indomitable spirit that exemplifies Spartans. 

Who Will? Spartans Will.

  • The tagline may be used in advertising and marketing communications.
  • The tagline usually stands on its own or follows questions that begin with “Who will?” in headlines and text.
  • In limited cases, the tagline may appear in text, for example, as the closing statement in a letter.
  • The tagline is a strong statement or response to a challenging question. Always place a period after the word “Will.”
  • The tagline may appear in all caps or with initial caps, in either Gotham or Californian font, although various weights of Gotham are preferred.
  • The tagline should not be combined with other marks or phrases to create a new mark, graphic, or theme line.
  • The tagline may be MSU green, white, or black.