Here's some advice on creating a visually appealing newsletter.
- Don't get fancy: Find a layout and stick with it. Sure, YOU'LL get bored with it, but you need to train your readers where to find certain information easily. Doesn't it irk you when grocery stores don't put certain items in their usual locations regularly? Don't irk your readers!
- Be consistent: Pick one typeface and stick to it. Okay, I'll be lenient and let you pick one different headline font-but it better complement your main font! Create a stylesheet and stick to it. That means headlines are always the same font and same size. Likewise for your subheads and body copy. Using multiple fonts thinking it "adds interest" is the cardinal sin of designers - it doesn't, so don't do it!
- Don't overdo it: If you have a two-page newsletter, have one feature article, typically on the front page, and two other articles. If you have a four-page newsletter, have two features and up to three other articles. Don't whack your readers over the head with a bucket-load of stories. Visually, if there are fewer their brains will say "That's an easy read" and they'll read it.
- Pull-quotes ALWAYS GET READ: ... so always include them. A pull-quote is a short quote from a story that is enlarged and put in great big quotation marks, usually within the story the way you might insert a photo. Choose the most controversial or intriguing bit from the story to use as a pull-quote.
- Photo captions are the SECOND-MOST READ element: Captions are the little bit of copy under the photos. Try to make these funny, instead of the usual "L-R: Board member 1, board member 2, board member 3..." Don't leave out identifying the people in the photo, because a newsletter starts with the word NEWS, and you must be responsible. But please realize that only the people in the photo truly care about those kinds of captions. Reward everyone else by at least making the caption interesting.
- Proofreading: Find at least two other people to proofread the newsletter before it goes to print. If possible, find someone who has a grudge against you, because they will be METICULOUS!
- Sidebar: Use one, and then underuse it. White space (otherwise known as "empty space", or "space you feel compelled to cram stuff into") is critical for making your newsletter easy to read. Leave a nice wide margin to the left or right of your pages, and only put minimal copy there. A link to your H.R. website page is a great idea, or a 3 tips on RRSPs would work (if your issue is investment-related).
- Table of contents: Put this is your front-page sidebar IF you have more than two pages with more than three articles. Otherwise you don't need it.
- Colour & paper: If you follow all these rules, you will have a great looking newsletter even in black and white ink, on white paper. However, if you want to print in colour, choose the darker of your credit union's colours. Print on a light coloured paper that's slightly heavier than whatever your credit union photocopies on. If you're unsure, go to your printer and ask to see samples. I would lean towards a professional-looking newsletter, and let the writing and content engage the reader versus printing on a bright fuscia or blue.
Angry because I implied someone might have a grudge against you? Let me know by leaving a comment.
Watch for the final installment, CU newsletters part 3 - tips for getting it read, tomorrow.