The Better Social Business BlogJournalizing work in the trenches of all things web, social & interactive
On 19, Oct 2012
While countless of businesses have some email newsletter-type of format (based on HTML and CSS) they use and distribute using email service providers (ESPs) such as Constant Contact, MailChimp and the like, the non-email version of newsletter design is still in use today, albeit not as widely.
Traditional newsletter design is often created using a desktop publishing tool; small businesses tend to lean on Microsoft Publisher or other similar desktop publishing software applications. More sophisticated layout capabilities for company newsletters can be achieved using Adobe InDesign. I personally recall designing many a newsletter layout with Adobe PageMaker myself throughout the years.
It’s not often, however, for a business to want to create their company newsletter using Microsoft Word, which is a word processing program and, while various formatting and layout capabilities are possible, generally speaking Word is not intended for professional desktop publishing.
Still, if you have a client who:
- Doesn’t have an official email marketing program and so, therefore, doesn’t have an ESP in place
- Is a franchise with hundreds of franchise locations all over the country who’s franchise owners will want to personalize the company newsletter on their own to then distribute to their franchise-specific customers
…then suddenly, Microsoft Word becomes a reasonable alternative to consider.
Because based on point 2 above, if hundreds of franchise owners are going to want to personalize the company newsletter and add their own news or items, then the lowest common denominator (and most practical application most everyone is familiar with and has some experience using) amongst all these folks would be, in our opinion, Microsoft Word. Sending over a Word .doc file containing the company newsletter “dumbs down” the effort for most of these franchise owners who want to add their own news and information without having to learn or be familiar with, as an example, Adobe InDesign.
Plus, the likelihood of of most folks having Microsoft Word already installed on their systems in comparison to another application is also higher. And emailing a .doc file doesn’t create the fear or concern for most folks in comparison to trying to email over and open an .indd file. Most (non-designer) people wouldn’t know what the heck an .indd file was!
This was the scenario recently presented to us here; could we do up a company newsletter in Microsoft Word for a franchise with countless of locations … not just here in the USA but all over the world?
Our answer: Yes!
If you find yourself in a unique scenario and need to use Microsoft Word to design your company newsletter, here are some helpful tips to keep in mind:
- TYPOGRAPHY: If you plan to email your .doc-based newsletter to many recipients, you may want to stick with system fonts such as Verdana, Arial or Times New Roman, etc. Using fancier fonts or fonts you have purchased in your newsletter layout will not be compatible with most other computers and, as a result, a newsletter design dependent on such fonts will be negatively impacted on the receiving end. If you need to incorporate a special font as part of the branding of your newsletter, whenever possible, create a graphic that can be inserted into the .doc file. Notice in our version above, “FROM OUR ALOHA CENTER” main heading is not using a standard systems font. We had to create that as a header graphic in Adobe Photoshop, then insert it into the .doc file.
- COLUMNS & TABLES: Publication design as a whole relies heavily on columns and tables for layout and page orientation. Yet, as stated earlier on in this post, Microsoft Word is not intended for professional desktop publishing. Therefore, be prepared to manipulate the layout capabilities (or lack thereof) in Microsoft Word. You may have to adjust here and there and play with margins and spacings as well as with potential layout possibilities within the limitations of this word processing tool.
- MARKETING BASICS ARE STILL IMPORTANT: Don’t forget marketing basics such as audience and purpose. They will drive the output of branding and content for your newsletter, no matter the file format. In our case, we could not PDF the document because franchise owners wanted the ability to add their own news and information (which they could do by inserting a new page in the .doc and add their own items to the newsletter, as needed), thus requiring us to keep the .doc file format in place. This was a key aspect of the client’s overall purpose. What factors or unique scenarios will impact your newsletter creation and distribution objectives?
In between professional engagements, Mayra guest blogs and contributes content regularly to a number of publications both in and outside the Washington DC metro area. Mayra is also the editor of The Better Social Business Blog, "Pet Tech" columnist for the Virginia Maryland Dog Magazine, contributes an “e-Trends” column to the Loudoun Business Journal and is founder of the Loudoun Fairfax Local Bloggers Meetup group which mentors and helps local bloggers network, learn and exchange ideas.