E-Newsletter Best Practices

Envelopes of various sizes on a wall

Newsletters can be an effective way of sharing all kinds of information with your audience, from news to events to stories and profiles. If your department has a newsletter or contributes content to university newsletters, apply these best practices to ensure you’re sticking to campus brand and accessibility guidelines, as well as delivering a useful and compelling product to your audience’s inboxes.

Planning Your Newsletter

  • Use a campus-approved vendor—Constant Contact or Emma.
  • Determine newsletter frequency and be consistent in timing your sends. Keep in mind that more frequently than once a month is a lot of work, and even quarterly might be fine depending on your department’s goals.
  • Keep a content calendar for each newsletter to track what you’ve covered and plan what you need to cover in future issues.
  • Determine whether you really need one. Newsletters are a lot of work, and you may want to reconsider starting or continuing one unless you have clear, measurable goals and adequate career-staff time.

Constructing Your Newsletter

  • Give your newsletter a distinctive feel within campus brand parameters. Pick a color scheme and use brand design elements.
  • Observe campus brand guidelines in use of color, fonts, graphic elements and word marks.
  • Ensure all newsletter content meets campus accessibility standards.
  • Use one or two columns. 
  • Use lots of high quality images.

Writing Your Newsletter

  • Write for your audience. Think about their needs, problems and wishes—and then consider how many emails they get in a day. Make it “worth the click.”
  • Limit number of content items and overall length. There is only so much newsletter your reader is going to be willing to parse.
  • Spend a lot of time working on your subject line. Think: short, punchy, compelling.
  • Keep text in the body of the newsletter brief. Link out to longer articles.
  • Have themed sections, e.g., “News,” “Upcoming Events” as part of your newsletter template.
  • Avoid phrases like “Read more” and “Click here.” They don’t meet accessibility standards. Instead, include hyperlinks in body text, or as a part of a sentence naming the hyperlink’s destination.