Editor’s Workshop: Pretzer on Design

How to walk outside the design lines and still produce an effective publication

Design rules are made to be broken

Send in the clones Everything you read about newsletter design stresses consistency–stick to one or two typefaces, maintain a grid, create a template, establish a style for headlines and captions, yada, yada, yada.

In fact, everything I’ve ever written or taught about newsletters stresses consistency. The result is editors who take consistency too far. I’m starting to recognize the template and software they’re using. The only way readers recognize a new issue is that they remember to throw the last one out!

Readers are more sophisticated now. They’re also busier than ever before. While they used to spend time perusing the company publication, they now access the intranet for instant information. They have e-mail alerting them to late-breaking news. They have more information thrown at them than they can digest. The competition for reading time is stiffer than ever before.

However, many organizational surveys show that readers still want, and need, their print newsletters. (See Tekweek article, page 4.) Print publications can either take the situation lying down, in a standard 8.5″ x 11″, three-column, Times Roman layout, or they can start grabbing back their share of attention with visual seduction.

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