Better Newsletter

Create a better newsletter

from Kansas State University

Professional templates for local newsletters are available from the Department of Communications. To maintain that professional appearance, keep in mind some basic rules of typography and publishing.

Using fonts and styles

Using a clear and readable font makes your document easier to read and understand. Avoid decorative fonts, excessive underlining, or all caps in blocks of printed text. If your document will be used electronically, be sure the font is easy to read on a screen. Although serif fonts are typically used for large blocks of printed text, sans serif fonts sometimes appear easier to read on a screen because their visual “weight” is more uniform.

Serif fonts (Adobe Caslon Pro, Times, Palatino) are often used for the main body text in books and magazines.

Sans serif fonts (Arial, Futura, Helvetica, Myriad Pro) are often used for headlines.


Wide paragraphs of text force the reader’s eye to travel completely across the page before returning to the start of the next line. This slows reading progress because the reader is forced to find the correct line across a greater space on the page. Notice that most magazines and newspapers use a multiple-column format for their pages. This keeps the reader’s eye focused on the story and simplifies the task of reading.

Avoid design problems

Tombstoning: Headlines or other highlighted type items appear next to each other in adjacent columns. The reader may have difficulty deciding what element to read first. Try changing column alignment, changing the page layout, or editing the text to stagger the headlines.

Trapped white space: A “hole” appears between a headline and an adjacent graphic, or an article is too short to fill the column to the next headline. Try adjusting the size of the graphic or adjusting the text so the white space falls at the bottom of the page.

Claustrophobic pages: Columns of text crowd each other and creep toward the page edge. Try increasing margin size or adding more space around individual elements.

Whispering headlines: Headlines should be significantly larger and bolder than the text they introduce.

Irregularly shaped blocks of copy: Flush left type is the easiest to read. Centered type is difficult to read because lines without a consistent starting point can cause readers to lose track of the text.

Buried heads and subheads: Avoid placing headlines and subheads near column bottoms, followed by only one or two lines of type. Try editing text or leaving column bottoms uneven.

Similar typefaces: Headline and body typefaces should not be too similar in appearance (style, size, and weight). Aim for contrast.

Underlining: Avoid underlines. Try to use boldface or italics for emphasis instead. In electronic documents, they can be mistaken for links, and they force the reader of a print document to separate the words from the horizontal lines.

Box-itis and rule-itis: Outdated newsletter designs used a box to frame each page and internal boxes around elements such as nameplates, pull-quotes, or sidebars, creating visual clutter. Boxes and rules may be used sparingly around advertisements or to separate elements.

Jumping horizons: Start text the same distance from the top of the page throughout a document. Avoid vertically centering text on the page: The “up-and-down” effect is inconsistent and jars the reader.

Widows and orphans: A widow a syllable, word, or less than a third of a line alone at the bottom of a paragraph or page. An orphan is a single word at the top of a column or page, isolated from the rest of the paragraph to which it belongs. Edit or rewrite to avoid the unsightly typography.

Floating heads and subheads: Be sure headlines and subheads seem attached to the text they introduce. The impact of a heading is weakened if it isn’t immediately clear where it belongs.

Unequal spacing: Pay attention to the space between:
• headlines as related to top and sides of pages, as well as the text being introduced
• subheads and text
• captions and art
• artwork and text
• column ends and bottom margins

Exaggerated tabs/indents: Default tabs and indents in word-processed files can be too large for the layout. Adjust them to be proportionate with the type size and column width.

Cramped logos and addresses: Be sure important information doesn't appear to be squeezed in. Try placing the vital elements first, then build the page or section around them.

Too many typefaces: Use the minimum number of fonts and styles necessary to organize information and create a hierarchy of importance. Each variation in type slows reading.

Extra space after punctuation: Electronic type inserts space appropriately after punctuation. Use one space.

To request a newsletter design for your unit, contact University Printing at 785-532-1158, or the Department of Communications Publishing Unit at 785-532-1149.

Kansas State University Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Service
Contents of this publication may be freely reproduced for educational purposes. All other rights reserved. In each case, credit Publishing Unit Staff, Department of Communications and Agricultural Education, Create a Better Newsletter, Kansas State University, January 2012.