Tips For Consistent Formatting in an E-Mail Newsletter

by Guest Expert

Your e-mail newsletter is one of your most important marketing tools, but it's important to make it look professional and reflect your brand. When you send a newsletter to your subscribers, the formatting and layout are important, because they form part of your brand, which affects how readers perceive your newsletter. By using the same formatting in every issue - and in fact, being consistent within the same issue - you reinforce your brand and make it easier for readers to focus on the content. Follow these guidelines to keep your newsletter formatting consistent.

Use The Same Sections In Every Issue

The content in your local newspaper changes every day, but the overall layout is the same - for example, a feature story on the front page, other important stories on the next few pages, then world news, then Letters to the Editor, then local news, then business news, the weather forecast, comics and crossword, and classified advertising, and the sports section. Keeping the same sections every day makes it easier for the newspaper and for its readers.

Although your newsletter is much shorter than a newspaper, follow the same principle. For example, you might start with a feature article, follow it with a short advertisement, follow that with a cartoon or joke, and end with a link to an interesting Web site. This makes it easy for you to write each issue, and your readers become comfortable with this layout.

Start from a Template Each Time

If you follow the advice above, you can use a standard template for every issue of your newsletter. Either start with a blank template (with sample headings and blank space for filling in the content) or start by copying and modifying the previous issue.

Most newsletter providers allow you to save and use templates. But even if yours doesn't, you can keep a copy of the issue you send and use that as the starting point for the next issue.

Write First, Format Later

Don't write and format your newsletter in Microsoft Word before pasting it into your newsletter software, because Word's formatting doesn't always transfer correctly or consistently. Besides, Word also tends to create a lot of unnecessary formatting codes that make your newsletter bigger and can cause unexpected problems with some e-mail programs.

Instead, write your newsletter content in a plain text editor, such as Notepad on Windows or Textedit on Mac. Then paste that into your newsletter software, and do the formatting there. This makes the formatting more reliable and consistent, because you're doing it directly in the software that will send the newsletter.

Test and Preview

Always preview your newsletter before you send it to your subscribers. At the very least, your newsletter provider should have an option for you to send the newsletter to yourself as a test. Do this every time - even if you think it isn't necessary - because even one small error can affect the entire newsletter appearance.

Some of the more sophisticated providers (such as MailChimp) also allow you to see how your newsletter appears in a number of different e-mail programs. You don't have to do this every time, but it's worth doing it regularly and if you're doing anything different or slightly more complex than usual.

Publish a lot of newsletters!

Finally, keep publishing newsletters regularly. The more you do it, the more comfortable you will be with various formatting options, and the easier it will be to remain consistent, professional and reliable.

Gihan Perera

Gihan Perera

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