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Newsletter Make-over Clinic | DTG Magazine

Newsletter make over clinic, page 6


The rivers caused by narrow column widths and justification make for very ugly type.
There is no reason to justify the text in a newsletter, unless you want to portray a formal or traditional personality. Narrow columns justified take on a newspaper look, and automatically cause problems with hyphenation, and white 'rivers' running down through the copy. (#1 in marked up thumbnail)

Flush left, ragged right is appropriate for an informal look, promotes readability, and eliminates the problems associated with hyphenation.

To help gain more room to work, I recommend using a slightly condensed font rather than straight times. Try Garamond Condensed. You'll be able to maintain the 12 point size -- good readability for your mature readers -- yet get another 20% or so more characters per line. This will also help the justification if you decide to keep the justified layout.

headlines in this newsletter should go up to 18 point or so of the same font. If you don't want heads this large, try using a black font (Like Helvetica, Futura or Arial) just two to four points larger than body copy. They really need to punch harder.

Secondary leading... or the space between paragraphs should never be more than half the actual leading count. If this is 12 on 12 type, then the space between paragraphs can easily be 6 points. This tightens the type and eliminates trapped white space in the center of the content. If you use secondary leading, then you don't need paragraph indents.

You could easily change to 11 point type with 12 point leading and no one would notice the difference -- except that it would be easier to read. For seniors or the elderly who might have problems reading 10 point type, the introduction of a point or two of leading makes 11 point as readable and comfortable as 12 point.

In a number of places an asterisks has been used (or a bullet) to signify a new item, or separate items that are different yet included in the same article. (Individual news "bursts" in the "News" column.) These introduce an extraneous visual element -- so they either need to be stronger, or eliminated. Try a solid square or triangle from the dingbats font. It might be better to put the first meaningful phrase in a font like Helvetica black, a point size smaller.

Bylines should be italic.

Typography layout

In areas like the address blocks, web links and other lines of text that take on a life of their own, try putting them in a sidebar box, separate from the running copy. This serves to free those up, while keeping your running text moving forward.

Here, I've redlined all the things I wish to address in this particular make-over. Trapped white space, staggered rivers in the type, heads too similar to the body copy, an ill-formed runaround, and the Widow line at the bottom of a closing column. All these things can easily be eliminated with a few simple tweaks.
Note that any time you stop the flow, and introduce a different type configuration you automatically call attention to the type, and force the reader to slow the reading process. Perhaps elements such as address blocks should be moved to the end of the article.

Be very careful with widows and orphans. The line "*Microsoft Announced last..." at the bottom of the column on the front page -- with no jump line -- is very bad. Most readers will miss it, in fact, because of the full line of space that proceeds it. That line should have been pushed to the next page, at least. If it couldn't move to the next page, then it should have had a "continued on the next page" jump line.

When you jump to a new location, you need to include "continued from the front page" or actually repeat the title, and then "continued" so people will instantly recognize where they can pick back up with the text.

In newsletters, if at all possible, try to fit the whole article in one place. You can get away with jumps in newspapers and magazines, but shouldn't try in newsletters.

Your table of contents should be tighter and more obvious. Rather than tinting the "Inside this issue" title, it should have gone the other way -- blacker. Since the names of the items are so short, they don't offer much enticement to the reader. Perhaps a very short teaser would work better than just the raw table of contents.

Tip: try the table of contents on the mailer panel!

Both boxes on the front cover could be merged into one. Or, get the Issue and date info out of the box and up into the Banner, then dedicate the box to table of contents and any quick news items that need to be there.

In the Newspaper business, those quick, little news items like the "Don't forget" and the "Mac Tech" are generally referred to as "blacklines" -- or one-sentence news items that are important enough to be on the front page. Group them together and put them in a different type style. You might even consider a sans serif for those.

Now, let's finish up with part 1 with some observations and comments about graphics. . .

Continue . . .

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