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Factsheet: How to design a newsletter

Newsletters are a great way of keeping your customers and prospects informed of new products and events surrounding your business. As with every other piece of marketing literature, once you've designed a standard format template, future newsletters can be designed and produced very quickly.

You don't need a high spec PC running the latest Desk Top Publishing software - MS Word will allow you to design a quite acceptable document, although your design options will widen if you use one of the higher end packages such as CorelDraw or Adobe Illustrator .

Want a more in-depth guide to designing newsletters, plus a CD-ROM with software that will help you put together a more professional document?

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The first thing you need to do is decide on your content. How much you write will depend on the size of your newsletter, which in turn will be dictated by how much you intend to spend and the number you intend to produce. If it's only a couple of hundred single-sided, then this can be done on an inkjet printer quite cheaply. If numbers are into the thousands then litho printing will work out cheaper with a better quality feel to the finished article. An exact breakdown of the different options is listed in detail in Chapter 2.4 of Marketing your Business.

Assuming that the newsletter is going to be a recurring event, you need to design a good name and title banner. This could be similar to a standard newspaper title, but if you have the creative flair you can create something much better. Stick to your corporate colours.

Now you're ready to add your content. The amount of space you have available will dictate how much text and the number of pictures you include. On a single page newsletter you can comfortably cover two or three main items, with perhaps a side column of short pieces. Where you have more space to play with you can expand on your content.

When using pictures for this type of media you must have higher resolution photos than those used on your web site. If you import pictures that have been used on your web site you will probably find that they are too small and therefore have to be enlarged. In the process of doing this you'll find that the quality will dramatically reduce and the pictures will become 'blocky'. Ideally you will want pictures that are 300 DPI (dots per inch) which match or beat the physical size that you want the image to appear on the page. Pictures taken with a 2-mega-pixel camera or higher will be more than adequate.

Once the layout is complete you need to physically produce your newsletter. In addition to printing, why not produce it in electronic format? Your sales staff can mention it over the phone and ask if the prospect would like to receive it by email. Ensure that the filesize is not too large (remember that many people will still be on a 56kbps connection, so a 1MB file is going to take several minutes to download).

For an in-depth guide to designing a newsletter, buy Marketing your Business.

Chapter 2.4 within the practical sections of 'Marketing your Business' includes a complete walkthrough of how to construct a newsletter. The CD-ROM also provides trial Desktop Publishing software, PDF creation software, a completely free Office suite and links to relevant web sites.