The initial layout of your newsletter always involves a great deal of work. The choices can seem endless. How may columns? Which typefaces to us? One color or more? How to find the right printer?
But once you’ve put together your first issue, most of these decisions will be set. You are now able to save yourself valuable time each issue by using a template. A template is a file you can use as a starting point each time you need to get out a newsletter. What does a template look like? Well, it actually is quite empty. The real meat of a template is in the settings “behind the scenes,” so to speak.
To create a template, you can begin with an unformatted, empty document. But it is easier to use a newsletter you’ve already laid out. Remove all text that will not be repeated in each issue. What will remain? These are some of the elements of your newsletter that should be in your template:
- Headers and footers
- Table of Contents or Index
- Mailing panel information
- Headings for standard features or articles such as headings for columnists or areas for calendars
Next you’ll want to make sure that your template’s settings are all correct. Items to check include: margin settings, tabs, number of columns and spacing between columns, and all paragraph styles, including article text and all headings and subheads.
Using Dummy TextYou have two options when finalizing your template with respect to the content of your newsletter. You can choose to leave empty spaces where your articles will go, or you can insert "dummy” text. This filler text will be replaced by the real content as you work on each specific issue. If you do choose to use “dummy” text, each time you need to insert an article, you will need to highlight all the "dummy" text, delete it, and insert the real content.
Saving Your TemplateOnce your template is created, all that is left is to save it for use each time you create your newsletter. Many page layout programs have an option under the Save File menu to save as a template. All this really means is that it is treated as a read only file. Once it is opened, you will need to immediately save it under a different name (and not as a template). Once this is done, you will be able to customize it for that specific issue.
If your page layout program does not offer this option, simply save it as normal, choosing a name for your template that will indicate what it is (for example, tribune_template). To use your template, open it as usual and immediately save it, renaming it for that specific issue. You must do this before you make any change to the template or you will face having a template that is not original anymore.