What We've Found
A well-designed newsletter with stories and information that can make a difference in people’s lives will be closely read. Because it is read, it can be an important tool for sharing information. On the other hand, newsletters are the most over-used publication today; they are definitely not for every group or community effort.
Just the Facts
Every newsletter should be considered a best source for information about an organization, a topic or a project. If articles are interesting and easy to read and the graphics of professional quality, the audience will understand the message and will often assist or become advocates for the cause.
When considering whether your group should do a newsletter, keep in mind there is a lot of competition for people’s attention. One more newsletter may not get noticed. To help make a decision about whether to start a newsletter, ask the following questions:
- What is the purpose of the newsletter?
- Would it be more effective, and more economic, to place advertisements in other groups’ newsletters and submit editorials to local papers?
- Is it feasible to create a website and make information available online? Does the target audience have access to computers and is this an acceptable method of communication?
- Who will be the editor to handle decisions regarding content, assure style continuity and be responsible for writing or getting writers for each issue? Who will oversee the mailing?
How To Do It
1. Decide on Content
Most likely your newsletter will be mailed periodically, not daily or even weekly. Thus the stories will not be late breaking news but items of general interest about the project, the area and its people as well as the project schedule or the publication of findings. Make the text interesting, keep it short, and use the active voice ("we are" versus "we have been"). Consider also including:
2. Design for Readability
- A project bulletin board where people can share their project activities and accomplishments.
- Pictures of people in action.
- Quotations to enhance images or messages.
- A coloring page for children, activity ideas or references for learning more.
- Theme issues that include interviews with experts on that subject.
- Profiles of landowners, volunteers, employees or other stakeholders.
- Descriptions and dates of upcoming events.
Since the ultimate purpose of your newsletter is for people to get information, it needs to be easy to read and not all fonts are easy. Use only two or three different fonts, or typefaces, in the entire newsletter. Make sure the size is also easy to read (11-12 point size). Don’t try to squeeze in more copy with a small font (size 8-10); it’s better to make the stories shorter or add more pages. Also use plenty of white space, which refers to blank areas that have neither copy nor images. To immediately create white space, try increasing the margins.3. Select Images Carefully
Select only quality photographs and artwork. Images should be used both to attract people to the information and to enhance their understanding of the message. To aid in understanding, always include a caption for each image. Avoid using photographs, maps and drawings that are inserted just for decoration and do not strengthen a story.4. Give It Style
Create an identifiable look that allows immediate recognition when people pick it up from their mailboxes. Be consistent from issue to issue by placing sections like contents, letters from the chairman and community calendars in the same locations. But do take freedom to vary formats of articles like number of columns, use of bullet statements, question-and-answer format, etc.5. Proof It
Always, always have a person who was not involved in the writing or design of the newsletter give it a careful read before printing. This is not only to look for typos, it is also to make sure paragraphs were not accidentally dropped, captions are included, page numbers are correct, dates and contact information are accurate and that every story and image make sense.6. Print It
Printing can be as easy as making copies or as complex as a four-color production on glossy paper. What method of printing is chosen will depend upon budget. But whether a newsletter is black-and-white and stapled in the corner or full-color and bound like a magazine is not as important as the content and design. KYTC can provide printing services. You can request this service using the Graphic Design e-form (77-17) and emailing to "KYTC Print Requests." For more information, call the Graphic Design and Printing Office at 502-564-3880.7. Mail It
Depending upon the size of your mailing list, there are several options for reducing mailing costs such as a bulk mail permit for groups mailing to 200 or more. Before starting your first newsletter, determine the best method by visiting your post office to find out what is involved.