Listen to 300+ podcasts by best-selling authors, published Wednesday, 4pm EST!

Print Newsletter Layout and Design Tips

Read these 45 Print Newsletter Layout and Design 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.

Print Newsletter Layout and Design Tips has been rated 3.3 out of 5 based on 2214 ratings and 2 user reviews.
How can I achieve contrast using typefaces?


To achieve contrast on your newsletter pages, try using different styles within the same typeface as opposed to several different type fonts (a real no-no!) Most type families include regular, bold, italic and bold italic, but you'll also find condensed and extended, too.

What is the definition of a dagger?

*Ghoulish* Terms

A BLEED is when the printed image extends to the trim edge of a sheet. It appears to "bleed" off the page.

CREEP refers to the distance variation at the middle signature sections of a saddle-stitched book caused by the thickness of the paper signatures where saddle-stitched.

DAGGER is simply a reference mark.

GHOSTING is a term that describes the undesirable appearance of faint replicas of printed images, caused chemically or mechanically (usually found in photos).

When MASKING, a portion of an illustration is blocked out by pasting paper over it to prevent it from being reproduced before exposure.

If you see a PHANTOM, it's nothing more than an area of an illustration reproduced in tones that are very light compared to normal tones.

RUNNING HEADS can be viewed as titles repeated at the top of each page of a newsletter or book.

SHADOWS are the darkest or most shaded portions of a subject which shows a range of tones from black to white.

How can I save money when printing a second color on my newsletter?

Save Money on Second Colors

Adding a second color to your newsletter always adds an additional cost. You should be able to save some money by contacting your printer to find out what his printing schedule is. For instance, if he has a day where he'll be running all his red ink jobs, you may be able to get a discount if you can get your newsletter to him ahead of time. In most cases, the cost of the second ink color is based on the extra effort by the printer to clean the ink off the press, in addition to the second run through the press.

What is a four-column format?

Four-Column Format

A four-column format is made up of four narrow columns. In some instances, you may want to merge two of the columns (two left, two right or two center), for a feature article.

The nameplate generally goes across all four columns at the top of the page. If you are adding photos or artwork, they can go across one, two, three or all four of the columns.

How can I make the newsletter less work?

Setting Up a Template

Rather than re-invent the wheel every month, set up a standard template. Include the nameplate, masthead, and boxes for the features that will appear each time. Copy the template into a new file and work from there. Never work off the original template itself or you'll rue the day you found out too late, and it's suddenly a corrupted file.

What should I do before I begin to design my newsletter?

Before You Begin...

Before you begin...make a rough sketch (or "dummy") based on your ideas for the layout and design of your newsletter. You might also consider a checklist of the important elements, so that nothing is left out in the initial planning stage. (A dummy will save you valuable time on your computer as you will be able to see a rough draft of the finished product.)

Is it important to be consistent with the use of color?

Be Consistent

The best newsletters are consistent with colors. For example, if you use a specific color for an important headline or a border around an important article, repeat the same color throughout your newsletter for other elements of significance.

How many pages should my newsletter be?

Size Matters

Generally, you will be able to adjust the size of your newsletter to the amount of information you`ll be providing. You can assume you`ll have space for 3 to 6 items per 8-1/2x11" size page.

A newsletter for a small company, such as a daycare or home-based business, is best kept to two pages - front and back of a standard 8-1/2x11" sheet. Larger companies or organizations will be happier with newsletters that are four pages (either two 8-1/2x11" or one 11x17 with a half-fold) or eight pages (two 11x17 with a half-fold). Cost is another factor that will determine size.

Readers usually like to finish a newsletter in about 4-5 minutes...if your newsletter takes longer than that, they will start to lose interest.

What is graphic design?

Graphic Design

Graphic design occurs whenever you use any or all of the visual elements of graphics, photographs, and arrangements of type and combine them with printing specifications and processes to convey a viewable message.

What is a jumpline?


A jumpline is the line of text (usually written ”Cont. on page 3") that directs your readers to another page to continue reading a lengthy article.

In what condition should I deliver my final copy to the printer?

Deliver a Clean Copy

This may sound obvious, but you should deliver a "clean" copy to your printer for the best results. Make sure there are no pieces sticking up off the page, and that all pasting/correction materials have been removed. All elements should be securely pasted down (especially corners!) and all traces of rubber cement, wax, glue, etc. gently taken off. You might even want to go to the extra measure of taping a clean sheet of tracing paper over the entire page for protection.

(If you have used wax, be sure to keep your flats out of the sun! Try transporting them in a shallow-covered box.)

What is the definition of format?


Format refers to the final physical form of your newsletter including size, design, typestyle, margins and printing requirements.

How do I decide on a color combination?

Color Specimens

Gather specimens of color combinations that you feel work well together. This will help save time later if you decide to add color to your newsletter.

Where should I put my best articles and pictures?

Article Placement

The rule of thumb for placement of articles on the inside pages of your newsletter, is to keep the best articles and pictures on the right-hand sides.

Where can I find ideas for color combinations?

Looking for Color Combinations?

Spend the day in your local fine arts museum to get ideas for color combinations. Fine artists are known for their creative use of colors and you could possibly start a new color trend! (Besides you deserve a day out...treat yourself to some culture!) If you do not live near a museum, visit your local library and look through books featuring the paintings of the masters.

What is a two-column format?

Two-Column Format #1

A two-column format uses two columns of equal width.

The nameplate generally goes across both columns at the top of the page. If you are adding photos or artwork, they can go across one or both columns.

What is PMS spot color?

Spot Color

The Pantone Matching System (PMS) is a popular system for printing inks. Often a printer has two choices for creating an ink color: process color and spot color. Spot color uses a matching system to create the shade. By specifying the official Pantone name or number, you can be assured of the color match when the file is printed.

How can I gain extra readability?

Extra Readability

Extra readability can be gained by using a larger type size and wider column width for the text of the main story in your newsletter. Subordinate topics or groups of small paragraphs can then be set in smaller type and a narrower column width.

Is the front page of my newsletter important?

Front Page

First impressions are important! The front page of your newsletter is YOUR first impression. You should take advantage of this by creating a unique nameplate (banner) to go across the top of the page. While your banner is busy catching the attention of your readers, some well-chosen headlines and/or graphics should reel them in! (Try to avoid too much body copy!)

The front page is also a good place to add teasers about "what's inside" the rest of your newsletter.

What is a pull quote?

Pull Quote

A pull quote is a line of text pulled from within a story and featured to catch your reader's attention.

How should I use color in my newsletter?

Choosing Colors

It is important to choose color combinations that work well together to set the tone (personality) of your newsletter. You do not want to use bright primary colors on a business newsletter, any more than you would want to use a tinted burgundy and grey on a daycare piece. If you are unsure about color selection, you should consult a graphic designer.

Should I add lots of graphics and photos to my newsletter?

Keep It Simple

Don't let your text articles be overshadowed by too much of anything else including graphics, photos, colors and typefaces. Remember, you are producing a newsletter...your readers want to read news!

What are register marks?

Register Marks

Register marks are the marks placed on your paste-ups and overlays so that negatives may be positioned for perfect alignment. They are especially critical when printing more than one color, etc.

What is the definition of alteration?


Alterations are the changes made by the customer (if you are creating a newsletter for someone else) through no fault of your own, after the initial draft has been typed. If you are charging for your services, alterations are considered to be legitimate additional charges.

What is the definition of camera-ready?


When the paste-up of your newsletter has been completely prepared (typeset, proofread, artwork, etc.) so that it is photographable to produce a negative for platemaking, it is camera-ready.

(Also see "Plate")

What is a wide column format?

Wide Column Format

A wide column format uses one wide column in the center of the page for feature articles, and narrower columns at the left and right edges for short items. (The opposite of a narrow column format.)

What is a source file?

Source File

Did a printed newsletter catch your eye? Save a copy of it in a source file to be used later for ideas. Don't try to save everything though, only the pieces you can visualize adapting to your particular newsletter. (Keep separate file folders for other newsletter elements, too, including headings, logos, typefaces, etc.)

Is it okay to incorporate design ideas from other publications?


When you find a layout you like, you can try incorporating some of the design elements to fit your newsletter. Looking through magazines, brochures, and other newsletters is also a good way to learn about colors, font choices, and layout. (Do be careful about copyright infringement!)

What is a two-column format?

Two-Column Format #2

A variation of the standard two-column format uses two columns; one wide, one narrow. The wide column can feature your main story and be set in large type (usually the right side of the page). The narrow column is then reserved for a subordinate topic or group of short paragraphs set in smaller type (usually the left side of the page).

The nameplate generally goes across both columns at the top of the page. If you are adding photos or artwork, they should only go across one of the two columns.

What is the definition of layout?


Layout is the term used to describe a sketch or drawing of your newsletter before any work has begun. By using a layout, you can begin to visualize the "look" of your newsletter.

What is a three-column format?

Three-Column Format

A three-column format uses three columns of text that are equal widths.

The nameplate generally goes across all three columns at the top of the page. If you are adding photos or artwork, they can go across one, two or all three of the columns.

What does bleed mean?


A bleed is when the printed image extends to the trim edge of a page; it looks as though it "bleeds" off the sheet.

How can I design an efficient newsletter?


Keep the design of your newsletter simple. This can be achieved by limiting the number and sizes of typefaces, as well as the number and sizes of graphics (clipart and photos). You do not want every square inch of your newsletter to scream, "Look here!" (You'll confuse your readers with too much clutter!)

What is a PMS process color?

Process Color

The Pantone Matching System (PMS) is a popular system for printing inks. Often a printer has two choices for creating an ink color: process color and spot color. Process color uses a mixture of four specific colors - cyan, magenta, yellow, and black (CMYK) - to create the desired shade.

(Also see

What is the definition of a dummy?


A dummy is a preliminary drawing, layout or paste-up showing the positioning of all the elements of your newsletter as they are to appear when printed.

Where can I find free newsletter templates?

Online Newsletter Publishing Class

Learn to design and publish your own newsletter (both online and hard copy) with information that includes choosing a successful publication name, writing headlines with impact, editing articles, clip art, typography, production, distribution, and printing tips, and even suggestions for 'finding news!' Ideal for any home-based business - you could even start your own newsletter publication service!


For a class discount, please type in "newzguru" when asked for the promotion code.

Can I just paste type corrections over the top of the original copy?

Making Paste-up Corrections

While it may save time to paste corrections right on top of typesetting mistakes, you should really "mortise in" the corrections; especially if you want quality paste-ups. By pasting over the top, you run the risk of the type falling off the page and printing the typeset copy with errors.

How can I become idea-minded?


To be successful, you should be idea-minded. Try to familiarize yourself with a variety of styles and formats of newsletters; shapes, sizes, typefaces, and some basic advertising knowledge will also help guide you to a well-presented newsletter.

How can I make an emergency repair to typed body copy?

Save Extra Type

Don't throw away clean copy until your newsletter has safely reached the hands of your never know when you'll need emergency type "first aid." If you happen to notice a typo while pasting up your newsletter, you should be able to find the same word or same combination of letters in the same type size and font, to make a quick repair. Simply cut out the error using your T-square and X-acto knife, and replace with type from discarded proof originals. Be sure to use your burnisher to prevent the type from falling off.

What is a narrow column format?

Narrow Column Format

A narrow column format uses one narrow column in the center of the page for short items, and wider columns at the left and right edges. (The opposite of a wide column format.)

How can I get readers to read my newsletter?


Your newsletter should have its own distinctive personality to invite your readers to read it. This can be achieved by blending format, design elements, text type and heading styles, writing style, illustrations, kind and color of paper, ink color combinations, etc.

Is there an alternative to buying a light table for paste-up?

Layout Sheets

If you're not ready to invest in a light table, try using layout sheets! They are ideal for paste-up!

Layout sheets are usually made from a heavy paper stock and have non-repro blue grids printed on them to help with the placement of copy. They are somewhat larger than the final printed page, so margins are easy to see, and crop marks can be added for the printer. You can usually find pads of layout sheets in your local art supply store, or ask your printer for some. Many times, they are sturdy enough for re-use.

What are some of the most common software programs for page layout?

Commonly Used Software

The most common page layout software programs for newsletter publishing are:
• PageMaker
• WordPerfect
• QuarkXpress
• Microsoft Publisher
• Microsoft Word

What is the definition of a gutter or an alley?


A gutter or alley refers to the inner margins of two facing pages in a book or other publication; also space between two columns.

Where can I find ink color samples?

Where to Find Color Choices

Pantone guides for ink colors can be found in most design studios, art supply stores, and commercial printing shops. Every color of the spectrum is represented in sample form and is assigned a number. The standard numbering system allows you have the exact color printed no matter where you take your newsletter.

(There are other guides available, but Pantone is the most widely-recognized system.)

Not finding the advice and tips you need on this Newsletter Tip Site? Request a Tip Now!

Guru Spotlight
Linda Handiak