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Graphic design - NYU

Email | Presentation slides | Document design


NYU has made the university style guide available online, but many of the components are not freely available to employees (i.e. the university’s official fonts) or do not follow best practices for teaching and learning (the university’s PowerPoint templates). Creating departmental materials requires approximating the established branding and identity guidelines while meeting the department’s needs. I’ve outlined here some of the design challenges I’ve faced in my time at NYU. Overall, this has been a useful exercise in working with a style guide but knowing when to “bend the rules.”


Without access to NYU’s mass emailing tool, employees are limited to the formatting options available in Gmail. This means emails are often text-heavy and do not include any university branding/styles, since Gmail does not support HTML in emails. After much trial and error, I was able to develop a template in Google Docs which could be copied and pasted into Gmail’s composition window.

I was able to add headings in “NYU Purple” (#57068C) and create a grid-based layout to make content more readable:

Presentation slides

While NYU provides downloadable PowerPoint templates to employees, the templates do not follow best practices for teaching and learning, nor for slide presentations in general. Problems with the templates include:

  • Low color contrast for text/image overlays
  • Font sizes that are appropriate for print but too small for web or for classroom projectors
  • Text-heavy slides which overwhelm cognitive load
  • Frequent use of dark backgrounds with white text

I designed a sharable set of slides using NYU’s colors and sans-serif typefaces that are similar in tone to Gotham. The slides themselves outline some of the best practices / conventions I followed while maintaining the overall look and feel of NYU branding.

Click here to view the full slide presentation

Document design

Document design for faculty resource guides is pretty straightforward - however, it’s important to remember that people will be viewing these online and printing them out to reference later. Balancing the use of white space while keeping page counts and ink usage in mind can be challenging at times.

You can see some examples of my work below: