Newsletters in Microsoft Word

This page describes how to use Microsoft Word to create newsletters. There are several ways to create newsletters using Microsoft Word. Microsoft Word includes "wizards" that make it fairly easy to create newsletters. There are two problems with this method:

  1. You might not always have "wizards" available to you.
  2. Wizards will never give you exactly what you want, so even if you use wizards, you will have to use some of the skills in this page to get your newsletter to be exactly how you want it.

Instead, by following this (somewhat more complicated) process, you will be able to use almost any drawing tool to create a newsletter.

Microsoft Word 2002, 2003, and 2007

Microsoft Word 2002 and 2003 are almost identical to Microsoft Word 2000. Files created in the two versions are generally compatible. This means that under most circumstances you can create a file in one version, save it, and edit it in the other version. Some of the menus and toolbars are slightly different, but for the most part, they are the same. Microsoft Word 2007 looks very different and has a different file format than earlier versions. Microsoft has provided converters that will allow you to open 2003 files in 2007/2008, and 2007/2008 files in 2003. When working with a file, it is best to stick with one version of Office and not switch back and forth between versions.

One difference that is significant for creating newsletters (or anything that involves the Draw tools) is the "Drawing Canvas." In Word 2002, 2003 and 2007, when you select a drawing tool, a canvas appears with the words "Create your drawing here." This is useful if you are creating a large text document and putting a drawing in it that consists of many elements. The drawing canvas groups the elements together as one drawing, allowing you to edit each of the parts while keeping the whole drawing together. This is a problem for our newsletter because the entire newsletter is a drawing.

You have two options to get around this problem. Your first option is to always draw outside the canvas. This is annoying because the canvas appears where you want to draw. Once you draw your object outside the canvas, the canvas will disappear (assuming you have not drawn anything inside the canvas), and you can move the object where you want it.

Your second option is to turn this feature off. To do this in 2002 or 2003, go to the Tools menu and choose Options. Click on the General tab. The last option before "Measurement Units" is "Automatically create drawing canvas when inserting AutoShapes." Click on the check next to this to remove it. Click OK, and you will not be bothered by the drawing canvas again. To do this in 2007, click on the Office button Office Button on the top left corner of the screen, and choose "Word Options." Click on "Advanced" on the left side of the screen, and make sure that "Autopmatically create drawing canvas when inserting Auto Shapes" is not checked:

Turn off drawing canvas

The Two Documents

You will create two documents as part of your newsletter. The first document will be a word processing document. This is where you will type your articles. You don't have to worry about formatting or layout in this document. The purpose of this document is to do your writing. Name this document articles.

Microsoft Word allows you to draw in a word processing document. The drawing commands available to you within Microsoft Word are as sophisticated as many drawing programs and more than adequate for laying out a newsletter. The second document will use drawing commands. This is where you will layout your newsletter. Name this document newsletter because the final layout will actually be the newsletter.

Start by typing a few articles in your articles document. Set your margin controls/indents to indent your paragraphs (by moving the first line indent control), but don't worry about anything else.

First Line Indent

You don't have to type all of your articles before you start the layout. You can type them all and layout the entire newsletter, or you can type and lay them out one at a time.

Once you have at least one article, create your newsletter document.

Spellcheck

Be sure to check the spelling of your articles. You can do this in the newsletter document, but it is easier to do in the articles document. Go to the Tools Menu and choose Spelling and Grammar.... or just use the inline spell checking (the red squiggles underlining questionable words). Keep in mind that hte spell checker is never a subsitute for careful proofreading.

Page Width and Margins

Be careful about the width of your page in your newsletter document. You will have to go into the View menu (View ribbon in 2007) and select Print Layout (Page Layout in older versions of Word) in order to see your drawing objects. This will also allow you to see the boundaries of your page. You can also go to the File menu and select Page Setup to adjust the width of your margin, or, in 2007, you can go to the Page Layout Ribbon and choose Margins in the Page Setup section. You will want to have at most 1 inch margins, and probably .5 inch margins, to give you the most space on your page.

Watch your margins carefully! In Print Layout View, the white space you see on the screen is the actual paper; it does not account for margins. You can put objects all the way to the edge of that white space, but you will have two problems: (1) most printers will not print all the way to the edge so the edges of your document might get cut off; and (2) you want to leave some white space around the edge. You can control how close to the edge you place your objects by using the rulers on the top and left of the screen (if you don't see rulers, go to the View menu and select Ruler, or, in 2007, go to the View ribbon and check the box for Ruler in the Show/Hide section). The white area on the rulers is within your margins, and the gray area is too close to the edge.

Drawing Tools

Microsoft Word comes with a complete set of drawing tools. To use them in 2003 or earlier, you will need the Drawing Toolbar.

If you do not have the Drawing Toolbar showing, you can either click on the drawing icon on your main toolbar or go to the Tools Menu, select Customize, and check Drawing in the Toolbars tab. Like all Microsoft Office toolbars, if the toolbar does not show up where you want it, you can drag it to the top, bottom, left, or right of the screen.

In 2007, you will use the Insert ribbon to access your drawing tools.

Insert Ribbon

The Banner

The first thing that you will need in the newsletter is a banner. This usually contains the name of the newsletter and some other information (the date of publication, the author, etc.).

To create a banner, choose your TEXT tool from the Drawing toolbar. In 2007, you have two options:

  1. Choose the Text Box option on the Insert Ribbon and choose one of the text box styles, or
  2. Choose the Shapes option and choose the TEXT tool under basic shapes to get a plan text box.
Notice that your cursor changes to a plus sign. This indicates that you are ready to draw the text box. You can either click somewhere on the page to get a small text box, or you can drag the mouse to create a text box of whateve size you like. Don't worry too much about the size of the text box as you can always change it later.

Type the name of your newsletter. You will notice that the name is not large or centered. Click on the edge of your text box so that no text is selected and no text cursor is flashing inside your text box. You should see eight boxes (called handles) around the name (they appear as small filled circles and/or squares). That means that the text object with the name of your newsletter is selected. Whatever you do now will affect that object. 

In 2003 and earlier Go to the Format menu, select Font, and choose a large size (probably about 48). You might also choose a different font or style. In 2007, you will notice that you have a new ribbon, the Format Ribbon, that appears when an object (like your text box) is selected. this ribbon can be used to adjust the size and style of your object, but it does not have an option to adjust the text. To adjust the text, you will have to choose the Home Ribbon. From there you can choose a different font and font size from the drop-down menus. You can also choose the center tool to center the text within the text box.

Now your newsletter name should be big and possibly in a fancy font. Unfortunately, your textbox probably isn't big enough to see the entire name. Since the text box is still selected, you can still see the handles around it. Point your mouse to one of the handles (you'll notice your mouse cursor change when it is over a handle), hold down the left mouse button, and drag it out to make the text box bigger. It might take you a couple of drags to get the text box to be the right size.

Next, you want to center the banner on the page. Point the handle to the border of the text box (anywhere except on one of the handles) and drag the banner around until it is centered on the page. Alternatively, while the text box is selected, right click (control-click on a Macintosh) on the border of the text box and choose Format Text Box from the menu that pops up. Click on the Layout tab and choose Center under Horizontal Alignment. Click OK and your banner heading will be perfectly centered.

If you click outside the textbox, you can see what it will look like (the handles and border should go away). There will probably be a thin box around your text. By default, text boxes have borders. Since you probably don't want this around the name of your newsletter, you can make it go away. Click on your text box again to select it (you should see your handles). Right click on the border of your text box and choose Format Text Box from the menu that pops up. Click the Colors and Lines tab. In the Fill section, choose No Fill for color from the pull-down menu, and in the Line section, choose No Line for color. This will look slightly different in Word 2007. Check out this video if you need more details for how to do this in 2007.


The next part of the banner is the other information you might want to include. I like to include a little bit of information between two lines:

This consists of three text objects and two lines. First create the lines using the straight line tool from the Drawing tools in 2003 or earlier or, in 2007, from the Insert Ribbon and the Basic Shapes. Select the tool and drag the mouse across the page, making sure the line that is being drawn is straight. When the line is about what you want, let go of the mouse. Repeat this just below the first line to get a second line..

Next, use your text tool to create the text pieces that you want to appear between the lines. Don't worry about where they go, just create the text pieces. When you are done, you can drag them between the lines to the place you want. Creating them and dragging them is the same as what you did for the name of the newsletter. Also, just as you did for the name of the newsletter, you might have to remove the border and fill.

When you have finished this, be sure to save your newsletter. You wouldn't want to lose it and have to do this again.

Lining Up Objects and Snap To Grid

You might notice that you have trouble lining up your objects exactly. If you notice in my banner, the text is closer to the top line than the bottom line. That is because, you are constrained to put things at 1/10 inch intervals. You can move the text down, but the smallest amount you can move it down is 1/10 inch and that would put my text too low. There are two things you can do about this. You can turn off the Snap To Grid feature. This will allow you to put things exactly where you want. If you want to move the text down just a tiny bit, you can. You can do this by selecting Grid from the Draw menu (the one with the word Draw) on the Drawing Toolbar and clicking on the box labeled "Snap objects to grid" (to turn the check mark off) and clicking OK. The problem with this method is that it is now difficult to line things up.

The better method of lining things up gives you more flexibility without making it difficult to get things aligned exactly. You can make the grid spacing smaller. You can allow yourself to move things .05 inches or .02 inches or ... You can do this the same way you turned Snap To Grid off, except that instead of unchecking the Snap To Grid box, you can change the numbers in the Horizontal and Vertical spacing boxes (you can use the arrows to the right of the numbers to change them, or you can highlight the numbers and type new numbers).

Lining Up Objects With Drawing Tools

The drawing tools provide an easy way to line up objects. If you want to align two objects, click on the first one so that it is selected. Hold down the shift key and click on the second object. Now both object should be selected.

In 2003 or earlier, Go to the Draw menu (on the left of the Drawing Toolbar, usually at the bottom of the screen) and choose Align or Distribute. From the flyout menu, choose how you want to align the objects. In 2007, go to the Format Ribbon and choose Align from the Arrange section of the ribbon. There are three options for vertical alignment (putting the objects above and below each other) and three options for horizontal alignment (putting the objects side by side). For vertical alignment, use Align Left to line up the left edges of the objects, Align Right to line up the right edges, and Align Center to line them up in the middle. For horizontal alignment, use Align Top to line up the top edges, Align Bottom to line up the bottom edges and Align Middle to line them up in the middle.

Lining Up Objects Within a Column

You might decide to have each of your articles be a separate text object. This gives you flexibility for placing your articles, but it means you must be careful about lining up the articles within the column. The first thing you must do is make sure that the articles are the same width. While you could try to eyeball this by dragging the sides of the text objects to resize them, you want them to be exactly the same width. To adjust the size of a text box to an exact size, right click on the border of the text box (control-click on a Macintosh) and choose Format Text Box from the menu.Click on the Size tab and adjust the number listed under Width (3.2" is good for two-column newsletters). Be sure that this number is the same for all text objects in that column.

Once the articles are the same size, you can line them up by using the Drawing tools (see Lining Up Objects With Drawing Tools above). Since the objects are the same width, Align Left, Align Right, and Align Center are all the same and you can use any of them.

Layout of the Articles

Now you are ready to layout your articles. Go back to your articles document (you can select it from the Window menu or the Taskbar). Highlight your first article by dragging the mouse across it. Go to the Edit menu and select Copy in 2003 or earlier, or, in 2007, go to the Home Ribbon and select Copy. Go back to the newsletter document (using the Window menu or Taskbar again). Create a new text object (click on your text tool and then click anywhere in the document) and go to the Edit menu or Home Ribbon and select Paste. You will now have to resize your text object so your article fits. You can do this just like you did for the name of your newsletter, but you might want to make all your articles exactly the same width (see Lining Up Objects Within a Column above).

You should note that the text box that you have created is like a mini-word-processing document. You can do almost anything with that object that you can do with the word processor. When your cursor is blinking inside the text object, all the formatting commands and ruler changes that you make apply to your text object.

To make changes to the formatting of your article, click inside the article (you might have to do this once or twice) until you see a box around the article. You should notice that the ruler at the top of the page has margins set based on the article you have selected, and you should have a flashing cursor somewhere inside your article. This is a mini-word-processing document. You can adjust paragraph indentation, add text, change margins, change fonts and styles, etc.

You will probably want to add a title to your article. Click at the very beginning of your article and hit ENTER to make a blank line at the top of the article. Click in that blank line, and you should see a flashing cursor at the beginning of the blank line. Type the title of the article. Since this is a title, you might want it to be bold and centered. You do this like you would anything in a word processor (center with your center tool, bold with your bold tool). Beware. If you center your title while it is set to be indented, it will not be properly centered; be sure to move the First Line Indent back to 0 to get the title properly centered.

You can repeat this process for all of your articles.

Graphics

To add visual appeal to your newsletter, you should add graphics. In 2003 or earlier, go to the Insert menu and move the mouse down to Picture. From the flyout menu, you can choose: Clip Art to add pictures from Microsoft's clip art library; From File to choose a picture from some other source; AutoShapes to create some fancy shapes; WordArt to perform some special effects with words (beyond simple fonts and styles); or Chart to insert a chart or graph. Whatever you insert will be an object, so you can delete it, resize it, and move it around just as you would any other drawing object. In 2007, you have similar options on the Insert Ribbon: Picture (from a file), Clip Art, Shapes, etc.

Be sure that you are not in the middle of an article when you insert graphics. That is, do not have a box around any text objects with the flashing cursor inside. If you are in the middle of an article, the picture will be part of the article, and it will be harder to move.

You can also create your own graphics by using the draw tools. Anything more than a fancy line, however, will require some artistic ability.

When you insert many graphics, Word places them "in line with text." This means that the picture is in the word processing part of the document, and acts like text. That is, it looks like a picture, but in many ways it acts like a big giant letter A. This is not what you want.You want to change the picture to "float over text" or be "in front of text." To do this, you will need to select the picture. This might be easy or difficult depending on what is on top of the picture. The easy way to select the picture is to click on it. You will know it is selected because it will have handles on it (little squares and/or circles on the corners and in the middle of each side). If you have lots of other objects around it and on top of it, you might not be able to click on the picture (every time you click, you might be clicking on one of the text boxes for your newsletter). In 2003 or earlier, if this is the case, you can try to select it by holding down the shift key, and clicking the left arrow (this selects the previous thing in the document). In 2007, you can click on the edge of any other object (such as one of your text boxes) and hit the TAB key over and over until the picture is selected.  If it works, you will see the handles around the picture. If it doesn't, be sure that you click somewhere in your document that is not on an object (so nothing is selected) and try again. If it still doesn't work, try hitting your left arrow a couple of times and then your right arrow several times and try again. If you are unable to get the picture selected, you will have to move another object (like a text box) out of the way; select the picture; format it, and then move the object back where it belongs.

In 2003, once your picture is selected, go to the Format menu and choose Picture. Click on the Layout tab and click on the choice for "Float over text" or "In front of text."

You should see the square handles turn into circular handles. You should now be able to move your picture where you want by dragging from the middle of the picture, and you should be able to resize your picture by dragging one of the handles.

In 2007, click the Format Ribbon, and choose Text Wrapping from the Arrange area and choose "In front of text."

In Front of Text

 

More Than One Page

If you want to have more than one page, you can do one of two things. You can create a second newsletter document (newsletter2) for the second page, or you can create a second page within this document. To create a second page in 2003 or earlier, go to the Insert menu and choose Brea; select Page as the type of break and click OK. In 2007, go to the Insert Ribbon and choose Page Break. Note that the page you already created will be after the blank page that you just inserted (even though it is probably your first page); don't worry about it. Be sure to add page numbers on the second page (I generally insert a text box where I want it and type the page number). If all your pages are in the same document and in the right order, you can use Word's automatic page numbering features to add page numbers (be sure to leave the page number off the first page). If your pages are in separate documents or in the wrong order, you can add text boxes for the page numbers.

Long Articles

If some of your articles are too long and need to be split across columns, you can do this by creating two separate text objects. Select the text that doesn't fit from the end of the article and go to the Edit menu or Home Ribbon and select Cut. Create a second text object, click inside this object and select Paste from the Edit menu or Home Ribbon. You should now have two separate text objects for the two parts of your article. You can put the second part wherever you want. You might want to include a note at the end of the first part, such as "continued on next column." Note that Microsoft Word has some fancy ways for connecting two text objects, so you can have text automatically flow from one to the other. However, this is a little more advanced than what you need right now, but if you want to explore this feature, try the "Create Text Box Link" button (it looks like two pieces of a chain linked together) after right clicking on the border of your text box.

Final Comments

Newsletters are a great way to communicate with students or parents on a weekly or monthly basis. They are not personal, but they help to keep people informed.

It is very important that you make your newsletter look good and that you use correct grammar and spelling. Of course, you will occasionally have typos, but too many typos and grammatical errors make you look unprofessional.

Make sure you line up your columns (Snap to Grid is great for that), and that you fill most of the space on the page. Add pictures between articles for visual appeal.

This will seem a little difficult at first, but with a little practice, you can make excellent looking newsletters with very little effort. In addition, these steps translate fairly easily to most drawing tools. The details will vary, but the ideas are the same.

Most professionals use very fancy (and expensive) layout tools to do newsletters. For most of your purposes, very basic tools (like Microsoft Word) are all you need because you can make professional looking newsletters without fancy tools.


See an Example Newsletter.

See the Newsletter Project Assignment.

Return to ET605 Home Page.


This page was prepared by Dr. David M. Marcovitz.

Last Updated: January 16, 2009