Okay, we’ve got the imagery. We’ve got the font. Now let’s lay out the newsletter.
Studies show—yes, people have actually tracked readers’ eye movements—that layout of the newsletter greatly influences its legibility. Our eyes naturally read from left to right so think of our reading pattern as a large “Z” over the page. Often a designer will place an attention-getting photo at the top left of the Z, the words following to the right, and so forth down the Z. Arrange design elements in a manner that creates visual balance throughout the page.
Studies have also determined how justification, or column alignment, affects legibility. Left justified with a ragged, or unjustified, right edge is easiest to read. This alignment allows the eye to quickly move to the next line and immediately continue reading.
Center justification is the hardest to read and most overused. Each time the eye comes to the end of a line, it must scan the ragged edge in search of the next. Talk about slowing down the reader! Definitly, not a good thing for getting your newsletter read in today’s busy schedules.
Layout also concerns the way we present our words. Don’t write your words completely in capital letters. All-caps give the semblance of SHOUTING and slow the reader. Limit your all-caps to titles only. And please, limit the words you wish to emphasize! Underlined, capitalized, italicized or bolded words out all lose their significance when overdone. The more you emphasize, the less each is emphasized.
There’s certainly a lot to think about with design. Hey, if it gets too overwhelming, just let me know! It’s what I do.