Read these 29 Newsletter Copy Writing Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Newsletter tips and hundreds of other topics.
When you are writing in:
First Person, use "I," "me," and "we." This refers to the person who is speaking.
Second Person, use "you." This refers to the person who is listening.
Third Person, use "he," "she," "it," and "they." This refers to the person or thing the writer (speaker) is talking about.
First rule of thumb for preparing for an interview? Have some basic knowledge of the subject you will be covering! This is easily done by getting a little background information from other print media such as books, magazines, documents, etc. (Planning ahead will also allow you to be able to carry on an *intelligent* conversation with your guest.)
Once you have a general idea about your subject, prepare a list of questions you'd like to ask your interviewee; think about what information your readers would like to know. You can then use these questions as a general outline for the interview. Be flexible...you'll almost always think of more once the interview has started.
As a copy editor, one of the ways to get a writer to explain missing facts is to ask them to explain whatever is in the article that you do not understand. By having them explain aloud, they will probably "say" what wasn't "written!" You can now suggest revisions using the writer's own words.
No matter what sort of printed material you are publishing, make sure it goes out mistake-free! Experienced proofreader, Cindy Kalinoski, helps you convey the message you want "without the distraction of inconsistent formatting and layout, typos, repeated material, incorrect grammar or missing text." Online proofreading available!
Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to hold your reader's interest by reaching out with your words, and not your visuals. Even the best layout and design will not hold their attention if the copy is poorly written. Remember this is a NEWSletter and you're in a race against time! Your words must grab your readers and pull them in quickly, before they have time to locate a wastebasket!
Although the “hunt and peck” typing method can be used to produce your newsletter, it is not suggested. If possible, invest the time and take a class (or use a typing software program); focus on a reasonable speed with error-free copy. Learning to type will greatly improve your production time.
Try to avoid the urge to put "st," "nd," "th," or "rd" after dates when they appear in your newsletter. For example, if the date you are using is May 5, do not use May 5th. However, if it is a common term that you "hear" when you say it like fifth floor or 5th floor, use it.
Before writing your Letter to the Editor, check out specific guidelines to the newspaper you will be writing to for word limits and style. Then, follow these simple rules:
1) Keep your letter short (200-300 words) - they are more likely to be printed.
2) State your main point clearly in the first paragraph. (If you feel 2-3 paragraphs is not enough to express your views, consider writing a guest editorial instead.)
3) Keep it on a personal level, and be sure that it is timely.
4) Always identify yourself - be sure to include your full name, address and phone number so that you can be contacted and the letter can be verified. (You may request this info not be included when the letter is published.)
Contractions are generally accepted in most non-academic writing (feature stories). When used in a conversational tone, they help to add personality and users will find your articles easier to read. Some of the most common contractions include:
it's (it is)
he's (he is)
who's (who is)
let's (let us)
I'm (I am)
they're (they are)
isn't (is not)
wouldn't (would not)
couldn't (could not)
we'll (we will)
we're (we are)
we've (we have)
you'd (you would)
we'd (we would)
don't (do not)
won't (will not)
Leap. The use of the word 'leap' paints an immediate picture in the reader's mind. It's such an active, positive, happy verb. Leaping feels good. You leap to the rescue. You leap into one another's arms. The word is surrounded by rich and positive images. Most important of all, companies and organizations don't leap. Legal departments don't leap. Only people leap. And that's what makes the difference here.
Besides leaping, what else can you do? You can smile - "A recent question from a subscriber made us smile." You can blush - "We were embarrassed to discover that some names were omitted from our mailing list last month." In short, you can create images that show you're human. And when you show that your newsletter is published by individual, caring, fallible people, you'll connect with your subscribers in a much more meaningful way.
The easiest way to compose a headline is to write a complete sentence using the most important item of interest from the article. Then, tighten it up by eliminating every unnecessary word.
Try not to get "stuck" on one particular word or headline and keep writing until you have several to choose from - then pick the most exciting headline.
Looking for free newsletter content? Check out articles that have been submitted to other newsletters in your niche or related area. Chances are, if you write to the author and ask for permission to reprint the piece, you`ll have instant content. Be sure, however, to follow the instructions given to you when reprinting an article. In most cases, you will be required to include copyright information and, perhaps, a short bio on the author.
Don't write boring articles by using the same word(s) over and over. Spice it up a bit by opening up your thesaurus and using related words...especially if you find you have used the same word twice within the same sentence!
One way you can check this, is to circle words that you have used more than three times. If you can change the word without changing the meaning, do so.
Establishing editorial policy and style guidelines for your newsletter will help avoid confusion and controversy. Try to strike a happy medium by printing a balanced range of views with these suggested general guidelines: 1) Don't ever insult any group or individual; 2) Let integrity be your guide (not power and money); 3) Back up all argumentative statements or issues with evidence; 4) Remember who your audience is and write for them; and 5) Spell out any rules for specific writing styles like abbreviations, punctuation, etc.
Here is some information that you may want to mention.
Newsletter publishers should consider obtaining an International Standard Serial Number (ISSN) for their newsletter to make it easier for libraries to keep track of publications with similar names.
A single ISSN uniquely identifies a title regardless of language or country in which published, without the burden of a complex bibliographic description. The ISSN itself has no significance other than the unique identification of a serial.
An ISSN is eight digits long.
You can obtain an ISSN for your newsletter free of charge from the Library of Congress`s National Serials Data Program at http://www.loc.gov/issn/
Publishers outside the US can obtain an ISSN from their country`s national library.
One action-packed headline will draw readers into your newsletter, if you take the time and follow some simple guidelines. This is not a time to be cute and clever, but to tell your readers about your most important "news."
1. Always use present tense; active words
2. Use no more than seven to eight words
3. Short, easy-to-understand words work best
4. Be specific; if you have more to say, add a sub-head
5. Avoid any unncessary words (the, a, an, etc.)
6. Set your headline in big, bold type
7. And, be sure the information IS further explained in your lead article
Plain and simple, your readers are counting on you to deliver accurate facts in your news articles. Just as a lawyer reviews his case before pleading it, you must review your facts before printing them. Occasionally, however, mistakes will happen. If so, apologize in a timely manner and avoid making the same error. Most often, your subscribers will accept your apology because they understand the time pressures of a publication.
Before you address your audience, be sure you know *who* they are to avoid any embarrassing, stereotypical, sexist terms in your articles and advertisements. If you haven't spent time or money on demographic research, you can include the broadest range of readers by remembering such things as: not all nurses are women, not all doctors are men, not all breadwinners are dads, and not every parent who stays at home is a "mom!"
Whenever you are editing, there are specific things you should be looking for including accuracy of statements, repeated letters-words-phrases-sentences, misspelled words, and proper grammar.
You should be able to understand the story and easily identify the main idea. The copy should flow well as it is read. If you are the one editing, be sure to avoid completely rewriting someone else's article - offer suggestions about your revisions instead.
If you are submitting your first query or cover letter and you've never had anything published before - don't admit to it in writing. Just give it your best shot and write as well as you can, perhaps agreeing to write the article "on spec (speculation)." That is, let them sample your article without the promise to compensate you for it.
Use your words to give your readers something familiar to feel, to see, to hear, to taste, and/or to touch. For instance, if you're talking about noise, describe the noise - was it thunderous clapping? Or, maybe the chili tasted so hot, you felt as though your mouth was on fire! And, don't forget "soft as a baby's bottom!" (These are just examples to get you thinking...you should stay away from cliches!)
A credit line is a small line of type giving credit to the source of a photograph or illustration used in your newsletter. It may also be referred to as a "courtesy line" and a copyright notice can be included in this line text.
Copyright 2001 Lisa Pinter
© 2001 Lisa Pinter
Whatever you do, don't wait for the "news" to find you - chances are, it never will. Instead, become a roving reporter and search out news stories for yourself. Attend community events, company meetings, public forums, etc. - you just might get an important interview or a rare one-time only photo opportunity!
Taking notes is the recommended way to remember what others have discussed with you regarding articles, set-up, and printing specifications. However, when instructions cannot be written out in detail, having good retention - remembering - is essential for successful newsletter publishing.
If you are using numbers in your articles, the rule of thumb is to write out numbers one through nine and use numerals for everything else that is 10 or higher.
The exceptions are: street addresses, time of day and date, page and chapter numbers, percentages, temperatures, money, ages, channels, unions, sports scores, voting results, and proper names like 7-Up!
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|