If the boss comes up and says, "we need a newsletter right now" you might think you have a big problem if the only program you have on your computer is Microsoft Word. Sure, an expensive layout program would work better for creating a newsletter, but if Word is what you have to work with, all is not lost. Yes, you can create a newsletter in Word and it's not even very hard. You just need to know about a few of Word's features. The image below shows a sample newsletter. In this article, I explain the things you need to know to create a newsletter in Word.
Many newsletters have columns to break up the text and make the layout more interesting. In many cases, you can use columns to help break up your newsletter. Reading long lines of text can be tedious and boring and newsletters are supposed to be fun and easy to read. You've probably noticed that most newspapers break up their text using various columns throughout the publication. By using columns, you can keep the lines shorter and the reading easier.
Adding columns to a Word document is simple. Just choose Format|Columns, select a layout, and click OK.
Now you have to make a decision. How many columns do you want? If you want to mix the column styles, you'll need to insert a break. In Word, a break tells the document "now for something completely different." You can see in the newsletter below, that I've made the top story a single column and added a picture to help break it up a bit. Then I added a break and changed the number of columns to two and made them varying widths to break up the layout a bit so it's not so regimented.
Even though the Break dialog box is fairly straight forward, you can click on the question mark [?], in the upper right of any dialog box (or press Shift+F1) to get more information. You see a brief description of what that particular item does.
Besides using columns of varying widths to add interest to your page, you might also consider using lines to add a consistent format. This type of layout may seem too rigid, but it may work for you depending on the type of content you have.
Although using too much justification (making left and right margins align) can become monotonous, it can add a nice effect to break up the page, if you know the story in that area will fill the section. Then add a little background shading and you're stylin'!
The banner on the side of my sample newsletter was done with a TextBox. If you want to align a banner along the side of a page like this, first pull the margins in to where you will be left aligning the text. Then draw out a TextBox and set any shading. Notice in the image below, that the shading is inset from the border using the internal margin settings in the TextBox.
Choose Tools|Options|View and check the Text Border option so you can easily see your page margin limitations. By changing the formatting options for the Internal Margins, you can pull the shading closer to your margin borders.
Now you can type some text for your banner into the TextBox and set the font face and appearance. Then choose View|Toolbars|TextBox to turn on the TextBox toolbar, if it doesn't show up automatically when you click your TextBox. To change the text orientation, you click the Text Direction icon.
Now press Ctrl+A, to select all the text inside the TextBox, and increase the font size so it fills up the TextBox with your text. You can quickly experiment using the Ctrl+Shift+> keyboard shortcut to increase the font size. Once you're close to the size, then you can use the font size input box on your Standard Toolbar to make any small sizing adjustments.
You can use a number of tricks with images to add nice effects to your newsletter. After all, everyone loves pictures! Adding a picture to a boring story can give it new life. Here are a few ways you can use images to enhance your newsletter.
Rather than using your standard square photo, use your favorite image editing software program to crop out a more interesting shape like the one below. Choose Insert|Image to put it in your newsletter. Now select the picture and click on the Wrapping button on the Picture Toolbar.
After you click the Wrapping button, special formatting lines appear. You can add a text wrapping node (marker) by clicking on the line. Using the node, you can move the outline closer to the picture to better wrap the text around the image.
For more graphic fun, don't forget about the WordArt feature on the Drawing Toolbar. Just don't go nuts with too many design elements. Always remember, consistency looks more professional and is easier to read. Look at newsletters or other publications you like and you'll see that they don't use cheesy clip art or 79 different fonts. There's a reason for that. If you pay attention to design for a while, you'll start to pick up on the techniques designers use to make their designs look good.