Note: This page contains references to some links that are only accessible by HHS staff. For more information, email the HHSC Office of Communications.
Designs for printed communications should support and amplify the written content. The priority should be to communicate the message clearly, avoiding elaborate designs that overwhelm the message. Simple is best to communicate clearly to the public. Artwork and photos selected should respect the dignity of all Texans. Avoid using unflattering shots or poses that imply dependency or oppression. Pay attention to all the photos in a publication and how a viewer may interpret the combination and juxtaposition of people depicted. Refer to the Photography and Illustration Guidelines page.
- Use bold, high-contrast designs and imagery.
- Use layouts with strong colors and definitive lines and shapes.
- Simple icons can be used to help organize materials.
- Depict the result of the help HHS provides, avoiding imagery that depicts a client as “downtrodden” or “needy.”
- Convey the Champion through photos or by using “headlines as heroes.”
- Obvious imagery includes overcoming obstacles, accomplishing tasks and empowerment.
- Subtle imagery emphasizes functionality over extravagance.
- Prioritize images that convey movement and progress.
- Selected images and language should be appropriate for the intended audience and consistent with the HHS brand.
- Illustrations are appropriate in some cases, such as for background art, abstract ideas or themes and children’s materials.
Under federal and state laws, HHS must provide equal access to programs, services and activities for people with disabilities. All content should be accessible so the target audience can extract and understand the information presented in the manner easiest to them.
Accessibility must consider two components: visual accessibility (prioritizing readability and legibility) and digital accessibility (optimizing webpages and documents for screen readers).
HHS employees should use official agency templates to promote a consistent look among agency reports and to readily ensure documents adhere to branding and accessibility standards.
When posting print materials online as Portable Document Format (PDF) files, consider how a physical layout can be confusing when viewed electronically (for instance, viewing a folded trifold as two pages in a PDF). While an accessible PDF can let a screen reader know where to start reading the text, someone trying to view the file on a computer may have difficulty understanding the material. This applies to many common print layouts such as spreads with facing pages or print that flows vertically or at an angle. To ensure that the information can be accessed by anyone, consider:
- Creating a Microsoft Word document with the information in reading order.
- Making a PDF with each brochure panel on a separate page or with spreads changed into a single-page layout.
- Publishing the information on a website.
HHSC Office of Communications and HHS Accessibility have developed Microsoft Office templates for staff use, available online. Email the accessibility team for more information.
Examples of HHS as the Champion
Designs, publications, videos and webpages created by the HHSC Office of Communications — including all images and graphics — cannot be repurposed or appropriated by HHS staff and outside groups. For design assistance, email the HHSC Office of Communications.
Social Media Application of Brand
Social media can enhance and complement other HHS communication strategies, such as web, print and email efforts. For example, if program would like to promote a newly created webpage, they may request to share messages and materials over HHS social media channels to help raise awareness of the site.
Social media communications should be consistent with branding and logo requirements. In some cases, it may be possible for programs to use current branding elements in social media materials.
All programs seeking to use social media should contact the HHSC or DSHS communications office to discuss policies, branding and the process for sharing social media messages and materials over agency pages.
HHS staff can read social media policies and guidelines:
- HHSC social media guidelines (PDF)
- Email HHSC social media questions or requests (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Vimeo)
- DSHS social media guidelines, including account posting and management procedures
- DSHS video standards and guidelines
- Email DSHS social media questions or requests (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Vimeo)
Staff Email Signature Guidelines
HHS guidelines limit the use of photos, backgrounds, images, animations, personal information and quotations in staff emails and instant messaging.
All HHS employees must follow these email use guidelines (PDF) for internal and external agency electronic communications.