You don’t have to be a designer to know a good-looking newsletter when you see one. And newsletters that are nice to look at make them more compelling to read. Even if you use mainly text, you can make it look nice.
The basic idea is: Make it visually accessible.
Keep paragraphs and articles shorter — they look more readable
Did you know journalists are trained to break paragraphs every sentence or two? The shorter paragraphs look more accessible to readers (particularly when laid out in skinny news columns).
Bloggers and web-content creators are encouraged to keep articles short overall. People’s attention spans are getting shorter all the time.
Use subheadings to break up the text
It’s also a good idea to break up your support letter into sections. Maybe this means you have separate boxes for different items. Even adding subheadings will help. Write them as mini-summaries of what’s coming in that section. This allows you to write for skimmers as well as for readers.
Another way to get your point across to skimmers is to bold your main points. Bolding main points let’s people see what’s important at a glance. Don’t overuse bolding, though, or your whole letter will look like a giant ink spot.
Bullet-point lists are our allies
Bullet points are one more way to help break up text. They add some white space relief to the page (so it’s not all text), and they are easy to skim. They also allow you to cut some words, since you don’t have to write complete sentences for each point.
Bullet points can be complete sentences (in which case you should end each one with a sentence), or just a few words (no period needed) — but be consistent. Each point in the list needs to be in the same format as its buddies.
Everyone loves photos
Another great way to break up text is to include photos. And many people connect more visually. Your friends and family want to see you and the work you’re doing. Color is usually best, but use your discretion with the cost if you’re printing your letters.
Have you seen any particularly lovely newsletters? What about them looked good? How do you make sure your letter looks good?