How to Design a Hardcopy Newsletter

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Newsletters continue to be a popular way to dispense valuable information. Whether it is for business, charity, news or just for fun, newsletters can capture the attention of readers. When they are beautifully designed and developed properly, they can also capture the heart of the reader and bind them to the information source for an extended period of time. Newsletter design doesn’t have to complicated in order for it to be effective. In fact, in many instances, the KISS (keep it simple, silly) strategy more than applies.

Things You'll Need

  • Theme
  • Desktop publishing program
  • Graphics (photos and clip art)
  • Multiple fonts
  • Scanner and printer

Determine the purpose of the newsletter. In order to develop a valid usable document, it is imperative for it to have a specific end result in mind. That purpose might be to inform, educate, entertain, share or any of dozens of other possibilities. Whatever the purpose ultimately is, it must be well defined.

Decide on the size and layout of the newsletter. The most typical newsletters today are the size of a standard page (8 1/2-by-11 inches). They may encompass more than a single page. However, in most instances, brief and to the point is better than long and drawn out. Therefore, the best newsletters are often a single page, printed front and back. Newsletter layout varies greatly, depending upon the type of information and graphics to be included within the document. However, a standard two- or three-column layout still remains the most popular. This decision may be effected by the printing capabilities of the source that will be producing the newsletter.

Choose the newsletter’s color scheme. This may be driven by the document’s masthead design as outlined in Steps 4 and 5 below.

Review lots of newsletter designs. Samples of newsletters can be found on the Internet, as well as through samples provided in most desktop publishing programs. Reviewing of existing designs will help in the next step.

Design the newsletter masthead. Just like a logo often sets the tone for a business or organization, a newsletter’s masthead helps to set the tone of the document. A masthead often includes the logo of the business or organization producing it, as well as the name of the newsletter in a specifically chosen logotype. Some have a logo design developed specifically for the newsletter itself. Others don’t include any logo at all, just the name of the document. The masthead may also contain the date the newsletter was produced and its volume number. Any or all of these things can be used in masthead development.

Figure out the type and style of articles to be used within the newsletter, as well as how many. Keep in mind that information that is short and to the point is often more effective overall. Charts and graphs can also be effective in getting a lot of information out in a succinct format.

Determine the type of graphics to be included in the newsletter. These might include photos--in color and/or in black and white--as well as clip art.

Find a desktop publishing program that will meet the needs as identified in the above steps. Some good ones to choose from include Quark, PageMaker and PrintMaster. Each of these programs has a lot of newsletter outlines to choose from, and also provides the option to develop a new one.

Draft out a newsletter as planned through the steps above. This will help to work out the kinks with regard to design and layout.

Pass the draft newsletter out to trusted family members, friends and colleagues. Ask them to critique and offer ideas and suggestions for the document’s improvement. Review the returning comments, taking them into consideration in finalizing the newsletter’s design.

Tips & Warnings

  • Use color in photos and clip art whenever possible. It will improve the readability and popularity of the document.
  • The masthead of the newsletter should not take up more than one-quarter of the page.
  • Use font styles, types and sizes that are easy to read.
  • Use no more than three different font styles within a single newsletter. Too many character changes confuses the reader's eye and may cause them to stop reading.
  • Add descriptive captions to photographs that say "who" is in the photo and "what" is happening.
  • Make sure photos are large enough to see. Otherwise, don't bother printing them at all.
  • Proofread the document thoroughly before printing and sending it out.
  • Edit to improve the quality and readability of the document.
  • Avoid tiny print that cannot be read by those with poor eyesight.
  • Avoid too much of anything--too much print, too many graphics or too many charts and graphs.
  • Avoid using light colors for print. It will make it more difficult to read.
  • Don't print photos that are too busy or hard to visualize. They will do nothing to improve the look of the overall document.

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