Creating Great Newsletters

A Top 10+1 List
contributed by Sujata Soni

Sujata Soni is a talented graphic designer who specializes in print design and publishing. Throughout the past several years, Sujata has worked in a variety of arenas, including magazine publishing houses, graphic art studios, and marketing departments. Currently, she contributes her eclectic experience to local organizations in the Portland, Oregon, area that range from education entities to wellness centers.

Following are some tips Sujata recommends that you follow whenever you create a newsletter for any type of organization:

checkbox Ask yourself questions. What is the purpose of the newsletter? Who is sending the newsletter? Who is the audience? What is the newsletter's intended style (informal, formal, classic, contemporary, and so forth)?

Include the parts that make up the whole:

  • Nameplate. Banner or logo that identifies the publication.

  • Table of Contents. List of articles and page numbers for quick reference.

  • Masthead. Important data about the publication, such as the publisher, editors, and staff contributors.

  • Headers/Subheads. Text that identifies articles and important parts of articles.

  • Columns. Structural layout of newsletters.

checkbox Emphasize readability and flow. Function takes precedence over form, so use legible fonts at appropriate sizes (no smaller than 9-point type for copy). Keep in mind that graphics and typographic elements imply a hierarchy, which enables readers to easily navigate the newsletter.
checkbox Err on the side of simplicity. Too many graphical elements and typographic treatments result in a cluttered, ineffective design. Avoid underlining copy and avoid overusing boldface or different-colored type—too much formatting decreases its effectiveness.
checkbox Add white space. If you think you have enough white space on a page, create more. White space makes pages look elegant and readable as well as make headlines stand out.
checkbox Be consistent. Uniformity of design and style is a cardinal rule. Consistent margins and typefaces give the finished pages a neat and clean appearance.
checkbox Keep your balance. Use balance when designing the inside spread of a folded or four-or-more-page newsletter. If you place a photo on the left page of a spread, try balancing it with artwork or a pull quote on the right page.
checkbox Emphasize information visually. Selectively chosen illustrations, artwork, pull quotes, photos, charts, and graphs can emphasize information while conserving space.
checkbox Control your color. At a minimum for print or online newsletters, you have three important color-related topics to address: color of your paper or background, color of your text, and color of at least one spot color, which can be used in elements such as headlines, frames of photographs, charts and graphs, or pull quotes.
checkbox Proofread throughout the process. As the designer, you are often the last person to review the newsletter before it goes off to print or online. Use spelling and grammar checkers; make sure headings, subheadings, and text sizes are consistent; ensure captions are below the proper images; and make sure at least one other person has proofread the document.
checkbox Plus 1: Recognize that you have a very important job. With so much information, newsletters are often so packed they become quite boring. As a designer, you have the power to sift through the masses of information and turn the best parts into an enjoyable, informative, and aesthetically pleasing experience. Meet the challenge!