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This might be a good time to start a newsletter because:

___You need to get a lot of information to a lot of people on a regular basis.

___You want to educate or inform the community on important issues.

___You want to attract new members.

___You want to build a sense of common purpose, or motivation--or both -- among members.

___You want to get feedback from your members.

___You want to increase recognition for your organization or belief in its cause.

___You want the public to see you as a credible and significant group.

You have asked yourself the following questions:

___What is the primary purpose of the newsletter?

___What are the other purposes?

___Who is the audience?

___How frequently do you want the newsletter to appear?

___How many copies do you want to produce for each issue?

___How much will this cost?

___How much can you afford?

___Who will design and edit the newsletter?

___Who will write the articles?

___How will you distribute the newsletter to its audience?

___How will you know if you have been successful?

Before you start working on your newsletter:

___Decide whether you will publish the newsletter yourself or use professionals

If you want to produce the newsletter yourself, make sure you have the necessary tools at your disposal:

___A typewriter and access to a copier;

If you are using a computer:

___Software that includes a capacity for word processing, page design, and graphics;

___A high quality printer

If you are having the newsletter done by a professional:

___Get your copy shop, professional printer, or graphic artist involved before going beyond the planning stage. Don't be afraid to talk to professionals; they may be willing to contribute their services or offer them at a reduced rate.

___You might use a copy shop if you are cutting and pasting from typewritten material.

___Computers that make layout and printing easier can be found there, too.

___Graphic artists can make layout and printing more attractive and interesting, and help convey information better.

___You can take camera-ready copy (you do everything but print it) to a professional for final printing.

___Confirm every aspect of the printing process at this time, including cost, time, what color is to be used, grade of paper, etc.

Steps for all newsletters:

___Decide what will be in the issue and how much of each will be included -- for example, articles, features, news notes, and opinion pieces.

___Design the layout for the newsletter.

___Write the articles for the newsletter -- or have them written.

___Edit the articles -- for content, for style, and for space.

___Edit them again. Ask someone else to help you with proofreading.

___If you are having your newsletter professionally printed, take the final copy to the printer.

___Check the final copy one last time for any errors in printing or editing.

___Mail or otherwise distribute the newsletter.

___Get as much feedback as you can about the issue.

If you want to get others to contribute to your newsletter, try the following:

___Find some other members to help plan the newsletter with you.

___Invite member articles, features, and columns; an occasional guest columnist can add luster.

___Pass around a sheet for written announcements and story ideas at your group meetings.

___Replace minutes with task force summaries in the newsletter.

___Reprint news coverage of the coalition.

___Borrow from other materials people send to you.

Words and graphics

___You understand that the masthead is the title on the front page of every newsletter.

___Keep the name of your newsletter short and catchy.

___Consider using your organization's logo or symbol as part of the title.

___Consider having a professional design this part of the newsletter, even if the rest is done in-house.

___You understand that the font is the style of typeface you use.

___For the text of your articles, you're using serif fonts instead of sans serif fonts.

___For the headlines, you're using sans serif fonts.

___You're using fonts consistently and refraining from using many different fonts on a single page.

___You use italics sparingly -- words in italics are difficult to read.

___When you have two or more columns, you justify your type to make it more readable.

___You understand that the headline is the short title or introduction summarizing the main ideas of an article.

___Print headlines in the same color as the article for easier reading.

___Set them like sentences without periods (i.e., capitalize only the first letter of each word).

___You understand that the articles are the stories and text that explain the different events, issues and plans that are important to your group.

___Unless it's a technical newsletter, your articles are written at approximately an eighth-grade reading level.

___The font size in articles is at 10 to 12 points.

___Choose a topic that's interesting to you and that others might enjoy.

___You've asked yourself, "Who is my audience?"

___You've asked yourself, "What main ideas do I want them to understand? "

___Organize your ideas before you begin; consider making an outline.

___Avoid complicated words and lengthy sentences.

___Use examples to back up your ideas.

___Always proofread your article for spelling and grammar errors as well as overall understanding.

___Whenever possible, have another person look over it before you turn in your final draft.

Layout basics

___Use two to three columns per 8 1/2" x 11" page for easy reading.

___Limit each page to no more than three or four articles.

___Make effective use of white space.

___Examine the page at arms-length to check balance.

___Use graphics, clip art, or photographs to break up the text and give your newsletter a more polished appearance.

___Consider keeping your newsletter at six pages or under (four is often ideal).

___Consider using a consistent layout that will make your newsletter more familiar to your readers.


___Involve the printer from the very beginning.

___Talk to the printer about every detail of your goals, your dreams, your budget, and your timeline.

___When choosing paper, stick with neutral colors such as white, tan, or light gray that are not jarring to the eye.

___Request a second "spot color" to add life to your newsletter without adding too much cost.

___Ask for the standard paper size that the print shop typically uses for other orders; it's usually the cheapest.

___Learn some of the vocabulary of printing so there will be no confusion when you speak with your printer.

___Listen carefully to the printer's advice, but remember, it's your newsletter, so it's up to you to make the final decisions.

Cost saving tips

___Consider selling "advertising" to help cover the cost of your newsletter.

___Determine if you qualify for non-profit status to lower your postage rates.

___Check into bulk mailing and bar codes.

___Consider other means of distributing your newsletter besides using the mail. Be creative!

___Decide how often you really need the newsletter to go out.

___Move through every step of the process of creating your newsletter carefully, and make sure to edit as you go along.

___Have another person take a final look with you.

___Ask your printer or other newsletter editors how your newsletter can be done for less.