University of Southern California

USC Identity Guidelines

Official Colors

USC’s official colors are Pantone 201C and Pantone 123C. These colors, designated as USC Cardinal and USC Gold, are equal in importance in identifying the university. All printed materials, whether printed on coated or uncoated stock, should match color to the coated Pantone chips. The Pantone Matching System, or PMS, is the definitive international reference for selecting, specifying, matching and controlling ink colors. It is strongly recommended that drawdowns be requested with each print job to ensure that the PMS colors are accurate. The correct and consistent use of USC’s official colors helps reinforce the university’s identity.


Official Color Translations and Web Colors


Colors for On-Screen Materials

Use the alternate versions of USC Cardinal and USC Gold for projects meant to be displayed on a screen rather than printed (including websites, mobile apps, kiosks, and presentations). The color translations for web and screen are shown above, and described further on the colors for screen page.

The following are used as secondary colors for on-screen projects.


Color Contrast for Accessibility

Use contrasting colors for readability and legibility. Following ADA & WCAG Compliance guidelines, the required contrast ratio is at least 4.5:1 for normal text and 3:1 for large text to achieve Level AA compliance. To achieve Level AAA compliance requires a contrast ratio of at least 7:1 for normal text and 4.5:1 for large text. Large text is defined as 14 point (typically 18.66px) and bold or larger, or 18 point (typically 24px) or larger.

For websites and other online uses, WebAim Color Contrast Checker is a good tool to measure contrast.


Dark colors should be used on light backgrounds.

Gray for web is neutral and ADA compliant with light and dark colors.

Light colors should be used on dark backgrounds.


  • Quick links