What We've Found
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
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 It1. Decide
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
- A project bulletin board where people can share their project activities and
- Pictures of people in action.
- Quotations to enhance images or messages.
- A coloring page for children, activity ideas or references for learning
- Theme issues that include interviews with experts on that subject.
- Profiles of landowners, volunteers, employees or other stakeholders.
- Descriptions and dates of upcoming events.
2. Design for
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
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
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,
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.
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.
stories, and graphics that communicate information on a specific topic for
distribution to a target audience.
Use It If...
- You have the human resources to write and design newsletters and the
financial resources to print and mail copies.
- You have an ongoing need to present detailed information, provide a forum
for exchanging ideas, and share updates, announcements and news.
- You want to keep a targeted audience informed on developments over several
- You have information to share about a topic that is not covered anywhere
Forget It If...
- You do not have the resources to write, design, print and mail more than one
issue. Make it a brochure instead.
- You cannot identify a target audience. In other words, you have not been
able to identify a group or community that is directly impacted by or supportive
of your project.
- Your messages are similar to or would be of interest to other existing
groups that already produce newsletters for their members. Editors are always
scrambling to find copy and usually welcome submissions from others.
Newsletters can be published throughout the life of any
project. The key is to determine a schedule and stick with it so people know
what to expect. Do not be afraid to adopt an approach of "less is more" and do a
bi-monthly, quarterly, or semi-annual publication to save time, energy and