BLOG: Eye-Popping Tips

From Karen Saunders

Your Branding, Marketing & Self-Publishing Coach

Newsletter Formatting and Page Layout: Part 1

If you’re one of those brave entrepreneurs who’s tried to embrace desktop publishing along with the responsibilities of running your small business, you’ve may have been challenged by the task of creating a page layout for your marketing materials or newsletter.

Corporations have an undeniable edge over home-based businesses because they generally have an in-house department filled with skilled marketing experts and graphic designers. In your small business, that task usually falls to you or your administrative assistant, whose training in the graphic arts may be haphazard.

A discerning eye can easily spot the difference between a professionally-designed newsletter over an amateur desktop publisher design. The quality of a publication’s nameplate, headlines, kicker (secondary headline), overall composition, writing, photos, and artwork is what turns a prospect into a customer. Experienced professional designers use many page layout techniques that amateurs just may not be aware of. Your newsletter is the face of your company and represents your brand, so of course you want it to be as professional as possible. Now, how do you bridge this gap?

If your budget is limited and you plan on doing most of the work yourself, I recommend hiring a designer to create your nameplate and newsletter template file. The nameplate is the identifying front page banner on a newsletter, displaying its name with some graphics or a logo, plus sometimes a subtitle, motto, or other information. A designer who specializes in logo design would be able to help you with this.

In addition, a professional designer can create a newsletter template for you that will have non-printing column guide lines in place, along with style sheets for all your written content. Style sheets are predefined characteristics (fonts, size, color, etc.) of your heads, subheads, text, captions, and pull quotes. They help you to maintain a consistent design and make quick changes to text throughout all pages in your newsletter.

Elements of Effective Design for a Sophisticated Page Layout

  • Choosing the Right Font. When you have a lot of text, it’s wisest to choose a serif font (like Times or New Century Schoolbook) for its greater readability. Use a bold sans serif font (like Arial or Trade Gothic) as a contrasting headline.
  • Use Professional Illustrations. You can use professional-quality clip art or stock photo libraries. There are many free and fee sites on the Internet. It’s important to match the style of the photos or clip art with the overall style of your graphics, for design consistency.
  • Employ Contrast. But within that consistency, dynamic contrast. Let there be clear differences among all the design elements you utilize. Include contrasting colors, shapes, fonts, and sizes of both text and graphics. Using white space effectively: don’t fill up every available inch of the page with text or graphics – space adds contrast.
  • Repeat Key Elements. Recurring elements thread your newsletter together, for a feeling of wholeness. Headlines should look the same on every page. Bullets should be the same throughout the piece. It’s important in final review to check for consistency of all key elements.
  • Magic When Using Grids. Non-printing grid lines will help you to position text, graphics, photos. This will give your newsletter or flyer a visual sense of order. “Sort-of aligning things” looks sloppy, lacking in professionalism.
  • Spatial Relationships. Proximity, or spatial relationships, is another tool to draw positive attention to your marketing pieces: newsletters, flyers, brochures or direct mail pieces, like postcards. For example, you’d want to keep the caption of a photo close to it.
  • Sprinkle Pull Quotes Throughout. A pull-quote is a small selection of text pulled out of the text and quoted in a larger typeface. These breakout items are used to focus attention, especially in long articles.
  • NEVER Ever Use All Caps for body text in your newsletter — it is extremely difficult to read. In all but the shortest headlines, avoid using all caps.

Naturally you may have many creative ideas for your newletters, flyers and other marketing materials. Sketch them out. But then, let a master craftsperson take your ideas and give them the sparkle and snap that only professional skills can deliver. Your customers will be able to spot the difference immediately. If you don’t necessarily want them to know that you’re a home-based business, you’ve got to employ the talent the big corporations do.


Our team helps two more clients publish award-winning books.

At Saturday night’s CIPA EVVY Awards Banquet it was announced that Elaine Dumler won 2nd Place for her 3rd Book The Road Home: Smoothing the Transition Back from Deployment in the Political/Social category. Reggie Rivers won a 3rd Place award for his 5th book, The Colony: A Political Tale in the Fiction category.

Team graphic designer Kerrie Lian created the cover of Elaine’s book with our team photographer Joy Jay’s photo.

award-winning book cover design and page layout

Team illustrator Marty Petersen designed and illustrated the cover of Reggie’s book, and team graphic designer Lindsey Hurwitz designed the interior.

Award-winning Book cover design and page layout

We all enjoyed working with Elaine and Reggie on their books, and I personally thank everyone for their outstanding contribution to the effort of producing the award-winning books.

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