Newsletter Design -- Don't Sweat It!
Your most important goal for your newsletter is to GET IT OUT! So curb your ambition to compete with People or GQ magazines. Keep your newsletter simple enough that it's easy to execute quickly. After all, if you don't get the news about your summer specials out till fall because your artist kept reworking that lovely tomato drawing, it's not only useless but your company looks silly and stale.
Don't worry too much about the design. It's just to bring the content to people's eyes, express your company's personality, and keep people awake while they're reading. If you get carried away featuring the latest trendy, complicated computer graphics, you're just confusing most readers. So keep it simple.
Use any word processing or layout program you're comfortable with -- even handwriting, if it suits your business. (The packaging and promotional materials for Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream were originally designed in handwriting -- they couldn't afford to have them typeset!
- First, collect all the text you plan to use.
- Now see if it's roughly going to fit the size page you hope to get it on -- if not, start cutting like a fiend. (Too little text is better than too much!)
- Be sure every article has a headline! Make this bolder and bigger than the text below it.
- Break up long articles with subheads. These should be more prominent than the body text.
- If you use photos, feature a caption under each. (You can bet that a lot of your readers are only going to look at the pictures, read the captions, and glance at the headlines.)
Put a masthead at the top (or wherever you want people to start reading). This can be as simple as your company name, with your logo (if you have one). Accentuate it by making it big, bold, centered, off-center, in a box, or whatever you like. If your company can't afford to look amateurish (and you are an amateur), see if your word processing program offers some templates you can use, or call a graphic designer to cook up a masthead for you.
Somewhere near your masthead, list the date of the issue, or time of year, like summer or "Holiday Edition."
Plan for a return address area. Decide in advance how you'll fold and mail your newsletter (look for more on bulk mail in a future article), and reserve space for your return address and mailing labels. But don't forget to add the phone, fax and email address so people can easily see how to get in touch!
Now for the fun stuff -- adding photos and graphics! Don't feel you have to put in pictures or graphics. Gathering these could slow down your process -- so if that starts to happen, remember it's usually better to get out SOME news sooner -- even if it's just text -- than to publish old news.
To spice up your newsletter, use your HP ScanJet to scan in photos, slides, or objects. Try varying the size of the images -- some big, some tiny. And don't be afraid to crop your pictures untraditionally -- you don't need to see the whole head to recognize a person. For some fun scan ideas, check out The Power to Scan -- Shortcuts to Success in Idea Cafe's Fridge.
Sure you can use clip art, but don't get carried away. Clip art can look "been there, seen that" very fast, so use it sparingly. Again, remember to vary the size of your graphics to avoid putting people to sleep.
Once you've assembled your newsletter so it looks OK to you, have somebody else review it with a sharp eye for errors and weird things. Now you're ready to print out these babies.
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