5 Easy Ways to Improve Your Bulletins and Newsletters

January 31st, 2013
Make sure any LOLs in your bulletin are intentional. (Photo ©robotson via Flickr.)

It's a rare church that has a graphic designer on staff, or even an experienced professional willing to volunteer for the sometimes-tedious task of compiling the information for and laying out the printed pieces the church distributes on a regular basis. But even when the worship leader, church secretary, or even senior pastor has to squeeze that bulletin or newsletter into his or her already full to-do list, there are a few simple things you can do to help those pamphlets have maximum impact on your members and guests.


1. Be Consistent

Your bulletins and newsletters should not resemble the community memo board at Panera, with every announcement in a different font on a different color background. Develop a template with a limited color scheme, simple layout, and a chosen font (and maybe one other font for headings), and stick to it. Even better, let this consistent styling run across not just the bulletin and newsletter, but the website, interior and exterior signage, etc., for a clear and unified aesthetic for all the visuals related to your church.

2. Think of the Visitor

As with most everything in your church, try to see your bulletin and newsletter through the eyes of a visitor. When you live and breathe church matters, it can be easy to take your understanding for granted and forget that visitors (and even many long-time attendees) need a bit more information. Do the announcements read like a family Christmas letter, with the assumption that the reader already knows names and back stories? Do they use acronyms that new people won't be familiar with? (Worst case scenario: "Come to ASF on Thursday at 10. Call Ann for details.") What impression of your church and its priorities would a complete stranger form if all they had to look at was your bulletin?

3. Speak with One Voice

While different staff members and ministry areas may submit the various elements to be printed, the people reading your materials (especially new people) should see a clear message. Rather than each individual ministry saying, "Come to our event," treat your newsletter as the unified voice of the church, making people aware of key opportunities for worship, mission, fellowship, etc. It's the difference between twenty people swarming the new person with invitations and a new friend taking the visitor on a personal tour of the church.

4. Learn a Few Grammar Rules

You don't have to be a professional editor to catch and correct some of the most common errors. Here are a few tricky issues likely to come up in church communications:

  • "Bible" is capitalized, but "biblical" is not. Same with "God" and "godly."
  • Punctuation goes inside quotation marks. Like "this," not "this". 
  • It's the book of Psalms, but each chapter is a psalm (e.g. Psalm 23). The final book of the Bible is Revelation, singular.
  • There/their/they're—learn the difference. Its and it's, as well.
  • Starbucks has no apostrophe. The coffee shop where your Bible study is held is not owned by a Mr. Starbuck, therefore, it is not "Starbuck's" coffee shop.

5. Proofread!

Even better, have someone else proofread for you, since often it takes a pair of fresh eyes to see mistakes in things with which we are too familiar. Many bloopers can be avoided just by giving written pieces a once-over before they head to the printer.

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