How to Design a Strong Newsletter

Tips and hints for designing one that generates interest

Woman with glasses on laptop

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First and foremost, a good newsletter needs good content that meets the expectations of the reader. If your content isn't valuable to the reader, no amount of design skill helps. However, once you have good content, a successful newsletter design generates interest and maintains readability through consistency, clutter-busting, and contrast.

Even with newsletters, first impressions are important. Before you start to design, identify the intended audience and decide which type of image the newsletter should project for that audience — formal or casual. Look at existing newsletters to identify what works and what doesn't about them. Templates are a new designer's best friend. A well-designed template has you on your way to a good design from the very beginning. The software you are using to design the newsletter may include a collection of templates. If not, newsletter templates are available online.

Whether you are designing a newsletter for print or for electronic distribution, adhering to certain basic principles can help you design a professional-looking and reader-friendly newsletter. Use these basic guidelines when you construct your publication.

Be Consistent

  • Use grids for page-to-page consistency. Good alignment is important for a professional-looking newsletter.
  • Use templates and style guides for consistent formatting. Whether you use someone else's template or develop your own, stay with it.
  • Use repeating elements such as footers, headers, and department heads.
  • Use the same few fonts throughout the newsletter. 
  • Use color to attract the eye to important information, but don't overdo it.

Avoid Clutter

More isn't always better. If your newsletter is chock full of fonts, colors, photos, and graphics, the reader may be put off. Keep it clean and approachable.

  • Use three or fewer typefaces.
  • Use frames and boxes sparingly.
  • Use no more than one or two pieces of clip art, photos or graphics accents per page.

Use Contrast

Although a too-busy newsletter is off-putting, a newsletter design without contrast tends to be boring. Ways to include contrast in your newsletter include:

  • Use high-contrast typefaces such as a bold sans serif type for headlines and a serif font for body text.
  • Make it big, really big. Use an exaggerated drop cap or enlarge a single piece of clip art to make a statement.
  • Use white space in the form of extra wide gutters or margins to counteract dense text. White space adds visual breathing room for the eye.
  • Add pull quotes to break up a long article and tantalize the reader. Keep them short and interesting.