Visual Design: Project 7 - Newsletters

Project Overview

Newsletters are publications that are distributed on a regular basis (weekly, monthly, yearly, and so on) to target a particular audience who share a common interest. Newsletters usually cover a main topic, or theme, with various articles or advertisements related to the topic or theme. They can be used to promote products or services; to maintain relationships, as in club or alumni newsletters; to offer information to experts on a particular topic; or to offer information on a particular organization. Newsletters can be sent via e-mail or standard mail or distributed manually. In this project, you will work in teams to create the theme, purpose, and content of a newsletter and to design the layout and graphic elements with Adobe InDesign CS6, Adobe Illustrator CS6, Adobe Photoshop CS6, and Adobe Acrobat X Pro.

Student Product:  Newsletters

Project Goals
  • Create a newsletter
  • Understand the basics of Illustrator
  • Identify standard newsletter publishing practices and cite sources

Project Objectives

At the completion of the project, you will have developed the following skills:

Project Management Skills

  • Organizing into print production roles
  • Managing tasks based on roles
  • Identifying asset needs
  • Working with copy
  • Creating and managing a project plan
  • Engaging in full print production process

Design Skills

  • Designing a nameplate
  • Using design to differentiate content
  • Designing multi-column and multi-page layouts
  • Incorporating color and layout consistently
    (using themes)
  • Integrating imagery and text to express story content
  • Providing clear navigation
  • Using design techniques to provoke interest

Research and Communication Skills

  • Analyzing newsletters
  • Using design tools to communicate between team members
  • Accessing, evaluating, and synthesizing content from multiple sources
  • Reviewing and revising content to match goals
  • Collaborating with teammates
  • Presenting a newsletter
  • Understanding the journalistic code of ethics

Technical Skills


  • Creating templates
  • Reusing objects with the Library
  • Putting text on a path
  • Creating multi-page spreads
  • Transforming objects
  • Managing text flow between frames and columns
  • Importing text from Microsoft Word
  • Adding page numbers
  • Adding captions


  • Understanding the Illustrator interface
  • Adding text and creating a text outline
  • Drawing in Illustrator
  • Drawing in perspective
  • Comparing vector and bitmapped images
  • Understanding Illustrator filters
  • Creating polygons
  • Smoothing and simplifying paths
  • Selecting stroke and fill

Acrobat Pro

  • Packaging a newsletter for distribution

Project Steps

  • Planning a newsletter
    Project goals:
    • Create a newsletter
    • Understand the basics of Illustrator
    • Identify standard newsletter publishing practices and cite sources

    Look at sample newsletters - discuss its purpose and audience; identify the theme of the newsletter and analyze the design techniques used to integrate that theme across the newsletter content to meet the audience and purpose
    examine each newsletter and identify common elements that all newsletters use.

    Discuss how the following elements vary based on the theme of the newsletter:
    • Nameplate
    • Content (and number of articles or entries)
    • Table of contents
    • Masthead
    • Titles and headers
    • Page numbers
    • Bylines
    • Continuation lines
    • Pull quotes
    • End signs
    • Photos/illustrations
    • Mailing panels

    Discuss the journalistic code of ethics and the following concepts:
    • Truth:  Journalists should be honest in gathering, reporting, and interpreting information
    • Accountability:  Journalists are accountable to their audience and colleagues
    • Fairness:  Journalists should present the news impartially and fairly, clearly representing various perspectives in a story
    • Harm and Safety:  Journalists should treat sources, subjects, and colleagues with respect - assess any potential danger they risk for themselves, sources, subjects, or colleagues in getting a story.

    Form student teams of two or three people. Where possible, mix members with different strengths, such as visual design or technical skill. Discuss the concept of working as a team and roles in newsletter production1.3. Some roles to cover include:
    • Editors
    • Writers
    • Photographers
    • Designers
    Note:  Students that they are responsible for managing the tasks that fall under your assigned role; however, all students will do work across the roles. Because this is a class simulation, students will use the roles to help them manage the project better. You can combine or split roles as necessary to accommodate the number of members on a team.

    Guidelines for the newsletters:
    • Length should be 3–4 pages
    • Include the various elements of a newsletter (nameplate, masthead, pull quotes, etc.)
    • Include 3–4 distinct sections
    • Include 2–3 articles
    • Include 3–4 photographs
    • Create a 3- or 4-column layout
    • Create a comp for review and one for redesign
    • If appropriate, include the advertisement from Project 4
    • Apply copyright and fair use guidelines for any applicable content or assets
    • Follow the journalist code of ethics in the creation of newsletter content
    • Follow sustainable design principles and make an effort to comply with economic, social, and environmental sustainability principles
    Note:  Create the newsletter for a particular organization in the school or community

    Distribute roles and brainstorm the theme, purpose, audience, and goals for your newsletter.
    Note:  Interview your clients to ascertain the goals, audience, and purpose and to brainstorm an appropriate theme. Alter questions from your previous client interviews and adapt them to this project.

    Because newsletters are created multiple times, streamlining the production process would be helpful. Discuss in your team the advantages of the following:
    • Creating and working with reusable assets (layout elements, images, graphics, illustrations, etc.)
    • Creating and implementing a style guide with lists of fonts, colors, heading styles, and so on for your newsletter (this is especially helpful for consistency and in passing knowledge on to new workers)
    • Creating and using templates for your newsletter

    Create and turn in an initial project plan, assigning task managers and due dates for major milestones. You will build out more details when your design is approved.
    Worksheet:  Project Plan1.3

  • Designing a Newsletter

    Sketch two different designs, on paper, of your newsletter elements (including the nameplate) and sections, identifying which elements will be reusable and maintaining consistency across pages to improve readability for front and internal pages. Conduct a team review and redesign cycle of your layout sketches as you prepare to create the design comps in Photoshop.

    Use your sketches to create two design comps in Photoshop and review these with your client. Engage in review and redesign cycles until an approved look is reached.

    Based on your approved designs, build a mock prototype in InDesign. Use placeholder text for headers and articles and use graphic frames with short descriptions as placeholders for images and graphic elements.

    Test the prototype with potential users of the newsletter. Some items to review and gather feedback for include:
    • Consistency across pages
    • Reusable elements
    • Hierarchy of information
    • Readability of chosen fonts
    • Use of white space and rule of thirds
    • Alignment of content and graphic elements

    Implement any changes to the overall layout and design based on feedback.

    Now that you have your layout design, brainstorm the scope of your newsletter, including number of pages, number of sections, number and content of articles, number and content of photographs, templates, style guide. Update your project plans to include details you can now start tracking.
    Worksheet:  Project Plan1.3 [see above]

    Review and get approval for your final scope with Mrs. McFadden to be sure it is appropriate and doable.
  • Building a newsletter shell
  • Building a newsletter
  • Presenting a newsletter
  • Presenting your work

Key Terms

  • bylines
  • continuation lines
  • end signs
  • masthead
  • nameplate
  • • pull quotes