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Newsletter Design Essentials

With more room to experiment and play with than postcards and brochures, newsletter design is a fun yet challenging project for any designer. The key to successful newsletter design is in simplicity and the effective use of attention-getting devices.

The following newsletter design essentials will put you on the right track:

Include all professional elements

Your newsletter should appear as a professional and authoritative publication, even if your design is light and fun. Therefore, you should include all of the elements your recipients expect to see, including:

  • Nameplate
  • Table of contents
  • Masthead
  • Page numbers
  • Bylines
  • Running heads
  • Headlines and subheads

Other elements such as kickers, jumplines and more should also be part of your newsletter design when necessary. The more professional your newsletter, the more professional your organization appears. And credibility earns business.

Be consistent and keep branding intact

Your newsletter design layout should be consistent – the same styles, colors, lines and page number placement should be used on every page. Limit your newsletter typography to two or three fonts at most, and go with a serif font for main body copy, because it’s easier to read.

Your newsletter should reflect your organization’s identity, so make judicious use of your logo and colors throughout your newsletter design. Include mugshots of organization leaders and article authors when possible, along with a brief bio and contact information for each. You want your readers to get to know you through your newsletter and to understand that you work hard for them.

Get attention fast

Some newsletters feature a single front page story and ask the readers to look inside for more. The goal, however, is to get attention fast so your readers are compelled to pick up your newsletter as soon as it arrives. To attract the interest of a broader audience, include three or four articles on the front page and make use of jumplines to finish the stories inside. This is a strategy newspaper publishers have employed for decades. If you really want to feature one or two articles, include your table of contents on the front page and highlight your features (and the pages they’re on) with teasers so your readers can find what interests them fast. If you can’t engage your audience, your newsletter return on investment suffers.

Use images, but keep it simple

White space is your friend when it comes to newsletter design. It helps separate elements in a simple and aesthetically pleasing way. Still, you should strive to include striking images in your newsletters – just don’t overdo it. Stand out from the rest. Instead of simple mugshots, try using images of your authors in action on the job.

Draw attention to ads and special offers

There’s nothing wrong with advertising in your own newsletter, as long as the rest of the content has value. Draw attention to special programs, deals, offers or other incentives with visually creative ads in your newsletter. Make sure you highlight what action your readers should take to cash in on your offer.

Newsletters engage your readers in a way traditional direct-mail advertising can’t – they add unique value in a way that inspires action through shared trust and understanding. Newsletters connect you with your customers on a personal level, and quality newsletter design helps make a great impression that contributes to long-term return on investment.

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