Designing a Noteworthy Newsletter

Overhauling your organization’s newsletter is no small feat. Content is and always will be king, but design is important, too. Whether you’re starting a new newsletter or sprucing up an old one, give your newsletter a fresh new look with these tips.

 Keep it simple.

Create a nice header to attract attention. If you don’t have a program like Photoshop to create your masterpiece, PowerPoint can be a great tool for creating your main image. Stick to basic shapes like squares and circles to create a clean, cool design. Remember, people like to see pictures of other people. Make sure the photos you select complement and relate to your text; include the head shot of the person you are writing about or who is penning the piece, or include photos of event attendees — not just the pretty centerpiece on the table. Make sure your photo doesn’t overpower the newsletter by limiting the length of your photo to about the size of your first paragraph of text.

Don’t serve the whole pie at once when a slice will do.

Link to longer articles on your website rather than including all the text in your newsletter. Newsletters are especially helpful for driving traffic to your website, so giving people a few sentences of text to summarize the article and a link to the full text can be helpful. This is will keep your readers from scrolling through a long email and tracking how many clicks each link gets can help you get an idea of what people are most interested in reading about. The same goes for your subject line. Try to avoid a standard “this month’s newsletter” subject line or anything longer than 50 characters. Also use a call to action or a catchy phrase from one of your articles to give your readers a reason to open it.

Add some color.

Even your most loyal followers can be turned off by something that is hard to read. Use color to flatter your logo by selecting a complimentary color from the old-fashioned color wheel. If your logo is light blue, maybe a light orange would add some pop. Adobe Kuler is a great tool to help you pick the perfect hue. Then alternate divider colors, or add a light shading to a text box to make it stand out.

Make your newsletter font-tastic. 

Zone in on what is important by making your headlines bigger. If everything in your e-newsletter is the same size, your readers won’t know what to read first, and a quick glance will become a blur. Increase the size of your headlines and make captions smaller. Also choose a font that fits your medium; a good rule of thumb for choosing your main font depends on if your reader will see it online or in print. San-serif fonts are easier to read online, whereas serif fonts are more appropriate for paper. To maintain consistency, avoid using more than two different fonts in your newsletter design.

Track your progress.

You won’t be able to tell if your redesign has had an impact if you won’t measure your readership before and after the change. Email marketing platforms like Constant Contact and Mail Chimp make it easy to track how many people are opening your newsletter and clicking on a link within it.

Need a little inspiration for your e-newsletter? Here are a few noteworthy examples and articles to check out:

Visit Fort Worth

Your Health, John Hopkins Medicine

City Winery Newsletter

The Non-Designers Design Book by Robin Williams

Principles of Design: Check Your Documents for Balance, Alignment, and Other Principles of Design

What tips you have for e-newsletters? Share your suggestions with us in the comments section below.

This post was written by PPRA Newsletter Chair Katie Grivna. Katie is a Development Associate at Covenant House Pennsylvania, a nonprofit organization that serves Philadelphia’s homeless, runaway and trafficked youth. Connect with her on Twitter or LinkedIn.

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