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Preparing a newsletter requires a number of preliminary steps. Before determining the contents of the
newsletter, determine the basic elements to be included in the newsletter, study newsletter design, and
determine the purpose of the newsletter.

Designing a Newsletter
The demand for newsletters in the private and business sectors has helped to promote the desktop
publishing revolution. Affordable word processing and desktop publishing software, along with laser
printers, significantly reduced the cost of producing professional-quality newsletters. Now, users with
limited budgets can create multiple-page documents in-house, providing organizations, businesses, or
individuals with a cost-effective means of communicating.

Newsletters are one of the most common means of communicating information and ideas to other
people. Newsletters may be published by individuals, associations, clubs, churches, schools, businesses,
consultants, service organizations, political organizations, government offices, and other organizations
all over the world.

Designing a newsletter may seem like a simple task, but newsletters are more complex than they
appear. Producing one may be the ultimate test of your desktop publishing skills. Remember that your
goal is to get a message across. Design is important because it increases the overall appeal of your
newsletter, but content is still the most important consideration. Whether your purpose for creating a
newsletter is to develop better communication within your company or to develop awareness of a
product or service, your newsletter must give the appearance of being well planned, orderly, and
consistent. To establish consistency from one issue of a newsletter to the next, carefully plan your

Defining Basic Newsletter Elements
Successful newsletters contain consistent elements in every issue. Basic newsletter elements divide the
newsletter into organized sections to help the reader understand the text, as well as entice the reader
to continue reading. Basic newsletter elements include the following:

       Nameplate: The nameplate, or banner, consists of the newsletter’s title and is usually located
        on the front page. Nameplates may include a company logo, a unique typeface, or a graphics
        element to help create or reinforce a company identity.
       Logo: A graphic symbol of a company.
       Subtitle: A subtitle is a short phrase describing the purpose or audience of the newsletter. A
        subtitle may also be called a tag line. The information in the subtitle is usually located below the
        nameplate near the folio.
       Folio: A folio is the publication information including the volume, issue number, and current
        date of the newsletter.
       Headlines: Headlines are titles to articles that are frequently created to attract the reader’s
        attention. The headline may be set in 36- to 72-point type or larger and is generally keyed in a
        sans serif typeface.
       Subheads: Subheads are secondary headings that provide the transition from headlines to body
        copy. Subheads break up the text into organized sections.
       Byline: The byline identifies the author of the article.
       Body Copy: The main part of the newsletter is the body copy or text.
       Graphics Images: Graphics images are added to newsletters to help stimulate ideas and add
        interest to the document. They provide visual clues and visual relief to text-intensive copy.

Defining the Purpose of a Newsletter
Before creating your newsletter, consider your target audience and your objective for providing the
information. Is the goal of your newsletter to sell, inform, explain, or announce? What is the purpose of
the newsletter?

Companies and organizations often use newsletters to convey a sense of pride and teamwork among
employees or members. When planning a company newsletter, consider the following suggestions:

       If a scanner is available, use pictures of different people from your organization in each issue.
       Distribute contributor sheets soliciting information from employees.
       Make sure the focus is on various levels of employment; do not focus on top management only.
       Conduct regular surveys to see if your newsletter provides a needed source of information.
       Keep the focus of the newsletter on issues of interest to employees.

If the aim of your newsletter is to promote a product, the focal point may be a graphics image or
photograph of the product rather than more general company news. Your aim may also influence the
selection of typefaces, type sizes, and visual elements and even the placement of all these elements.

Also consider the following questions when planning your document: What is the image you want to
project? How often will the newsletter appear? What is your budget? How much time can you devote to
its creation? What items are likely to be repeated from issue to issue? Will your newsletter
accommodate ads, photographs, or clip art in its layout? After answering these questions, you are ready
to begin designing your newsletter.

Applying Desktop Publishing Guidelines
One of the biggest challenges in creating a newsletter is balancing change with consistency. A newsletter
is a document that is typically reproduced regularly, whether monthly, bimonthly, or quarterly. Each
issue features new content—new ideas, new text, and new graphics or photos. However, for your
newsletter to be effective, each issue must also maintain a consistent appearance. Consistency
contributes to your publication’s identity and gives your readers a feeling of familiarity.
As you design your newsletter, think about the elements that should remain consistent from issue to
issue. Consistent newsletter features and elements may include: margin size, column layout, nameplate
formatting and location, logo, color, ruled lines, and formatting of headlines, subheads, and body text.

Focus and balance can be achieved in a newsletter through the design and size of the nameplate, the
arrangement of text on the page, the use of graphics images or scanned photographs, and the careful
use of lines, borders, and backgrounds. When you choose graphics, images, or photos, use restraint and
consider the appropriateness of the image. A single, large illustration is usually more effective than
many small images scattered throughout the document. Size graphics, images, or photos according to
their relative importance to the content. Headlines and subheads can serve as secondary focal points as
well as provide balance to the total document.

White space around a headline creates contrast and attracts the reader’s eyes to the headline. Surround
text with white space if you want the text to stand out. If you want to draw attention to the nameplate
or headline of the newsletter, you may want to choose a bold type style and a larger type size. Good
directional flow can be achieved by using ruled lines that lead the reader’s eyes through the document.
Graphics elements, placed strategically throughout a newsletter, can provide a pattern for the reader’s
eyes to follow. If you decide to use color in a newsletter, use it sparingly. Establish focus and directional
flow by using color to highlight key information or elements in your publication.

Choosing Paper Size and Type
Among the first considerations in designing a newsletter page layout are paper size and type. These
decisions may be affected by the number of copies needed and the equipment available for creating,
printing, and distributing the newsletters. Most newsletters are created on standard-sized, 8.5-by-11-
inch paper. However, some newsletters are printed on larger sheets, such as 11 by 14 inches. Standard
8.5-by-11-inch paper is the most economical choice for printing. Another consideration is that 8.5-by-11-
inch paper is easier to hold and read. In addition, standard-sized paper is cheaper to mail and fits easily
in standard file folders.

Choosing Paper Weight
The weight of the paper used for a newsletter is determined by the cost, the quality desired, and the
graphics or photographs included. The heavier the stock, the more expensive the paper. In addition,
pure white paper is more difficult to read because of glare. If possible, investigate other subtle colors.
Another option is to purchase predesigned newsletter paper from a paper supply company. Predesigned
papers come in many colors and designs. Several have different blocks of color created on a page to help
separate and organize your text.

Creating Margins for Newsletters
After considering the paper size, type, and weight, determine the margins of your newsletter pages.
Margin size is linked to the number of columns needed, the formality desired, the visual elements used,
and the amount of text available. Keep all margins consistent throughout your newsletter. Listed here
are a few generalizations about margins in newsletters:
   A wide right margin is considered formal. This approach positions the text at the left side of the
    page—the side where most readers tend to look first. If the justification is set at full, the
    newsletter will appear even more formal.
   A wide left margin is less formal. A table of contents or marginal subheads can be placed in the
    left margin giving the newsletter an airy, open appearance.
   Equal margins tend to create an informal look.

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