A newsletter is a creative way to promote new products and services to your customer base, keep your employees informed about policies, upcoming events and job openings, and share newsy notes with friends and family members. Whether you choose a traditional print format or are planning to distribute your newsletter electronically, there's no sense in reinventing the wheel each time you assemble a new edition. A simple template allows you to plug your content into predefined fields as well as ensure consistency of presentation from issue to issue.
Start with a list of the elements that will appear in every issue you publish. A business newsletter, for instance, will likely include the following:
Masthead and company logo Message from the president, CEO or editor Calendar of events News Personnel announcements Newsletter staff and contact information
Depending on the style and scope of your newsletter, you might also want to designate space for individual columnists, business profiles and interviews, how-to articles, surveys, photographs and cartoons.
Make rough draft sketches of your layout before you begin designing your newsletter template. Experiment with placement to achieve a balanced look, lots of white space, and a pleasing mix of graphics and text.
Open a new document in Word and choose an uncluttered font to use throughout your entire newsletter. Good choices include Courier, Verdana, Times New Roman, Cambria, Century Gothic, and Garamond. Keep in mind that you'll have latitude with the size of the font depending on whether you're using it for headlines, text or captions for illustrations. To introduce variety, it's permissible to use bold and italics with the font you choose.
Set your margins for one inch on each side and your line spacing for single. While newsletters typically use the same justified alignment found in newspaper articles, this is a matter of individual taste.
Create a text box for your newsletter masthead. If you're using Microsoft Word, go to the "insert" tab at the top of the screen, then use the pull-down menu under "text box" to either draw your own box or select the style of box you want from the existing gallery. Note: If you're not using Microsoft Word, type "create text box" in the search topics and follow the instructions. The masthead text box is where you'll enter the title of your newsletter and your logo. (See Tips.)
Use text boxes to create the different sections for your newsletter content. As you did with the masthead, type the titles and incorporate the art that will be a permanent part of your newsletter template. Another option is to click the "page layout" tab at the top of your screen and then click on "columns". You can define columns of any size and their margins will be displayed in the top ruler. If you'd like something that's a little easier to visualize, go to the "insert" tab and click on "table". Again, you can define any number and size of columns you want, the difference being that when you click "okay", you'll see the actual lines on the page. (See Tips.)
Save the document as a Word template. Each time you open it to create a new issue of your newsletter, be sure to save it under a different file name.
If you want the boundaries of any of your text boxes to be visible when printed, do nothing after you enter your content. If you want them erased, click on the "format tab" in text box tools and click "no outline" in the "shape outline" pull-down menu. In this menu you can also define an outline color, change the shape of your box, or choose a fill color or texture.
If you want the lines in a table to be invisible when the newsletter is printed, click on "borders" under the "design" tab and specify which lines you want erased. These lines, however, will still be visible to you on the screen to provide a working framework for text and graphics.