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APS Communication Department
Division of the Superintendent

Educational Services
Center 1
15701 E. 1st Ave.
Suite 213
Aurora, CO 80011
303-365-7805
comm@aps.k12.co.us

School Newsletter Guidelines


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If you want your newsletter to be effective, it must be easy to read, accessible, informative, concise and in line with your branding efforts. Follow these tips when creating your newsletter:

 

General Guidelines
  • Page Limitations - Try limiting the number of pages by sending out newsletters more frequently. This helps establish a more usable newsletter. If you will be printing your newsletters, mailing out a shorter newsletter monthly is preferable to mailing out a longer newsletter bimonthly or quarterly. Generally, newsletters should be no longer than six pages (three pages front and back, including the cover page). Newsletters that are posted online and are searchable or utilize bold headings to make them skim-able can be longer.
  • Page Numbers - Number all pages except for the first page or the nameplate.
  • Web Posting (optional but highly recommended) - Post the newsletter as a PDF or Word document file on your school’s website. This makes the newsletter easily accessible to parents and the community and cuts down on costs.
  • Translations – Different schools have different translation needs depending on the populations they serve. If your school has a large percentage of non-English speaking families, it is recommended that you translate your newsletter. For example, have the newsletter translated into Spanish and placed in a separate document, or at the end of the English version. When translating materials, it is best to work with the Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Education Department (ela.aurorak12.org/translators/) to contract with a District Approved Translator (DAT). Please also be sure to comply with the following legal obligations:
    • As dictated by the Office of Civil Rights, important district materials must include one of the following messages regarding the availability of translation and interpretation services:
      • If you do not speak English and need an interpreter to communicate effectively with your school, interpreter services are available to you at no cost.  In addition, free translation of some documents is also available.  If you have questions about either translation or interpreter services, please contact either the principal of your school or the Division of Instruction.
      • Notice to Parents/Guardians: The Aurora Public Schools is committed to meaningful communication with its parents so that parents can access the benefits, services and information offered by the district.
      • Per federal mandate, parents’ translation requests must be met.
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Newsletter Layout and Content

NAMEPLATE - Think of this as the cover page, so be creative. Content includes:

  • Title of the Newsletter – (e.g. “Eagle Express,” “Leopard Lines,” “Gatekeeper Newsletter”) Placed at the top, middle, bottom or along the sides of the page. Make sure the name is clearly separate from the content - use lines, boxes, etc. to separate.
  • School Information– (e.g. name of the school, address, telephone number(s), website or email address, Facebook or Twitter URLs, author(s) names, principal’s name or names of other staff members, volume and issue or date) Often placed along the side or bottom of the cover, or underneath the newsletter title.
  • School Logo or Mascot - Generally placed next to the name or title of the newsletter.
  • School Motto, Mission Statement or Vision-Optional
  • Table of Contents- A listing of page numbers where articles and special sections of the newsletter can be found. Separate the table of contents from the text with a box, line or white space. Place the table of contents along the left side of the page, because people generally read from left to right. 
  • Summary of Important Dates / Activities Calendar (optional) - If used, keep it short and sweet.
  • Letter from the Principal (optional) – Again, keep this content short and sweet.

 

BODY - This section’s content holds the most weight. Use bold headings and bullet points to break up the text, so it is well organized, professional and easy to skim. When necessary, use graphs, charts, diagrams, clip art and pictures to effectively convey the text. Here are some topics to consider:

  • District News – District updates and featured stories can be found at the School Newsletter Portal. (Please note: this portal is only accessible using an APS Staff Google account.)
  • School News - Updates / classroom news / teacher news / grade level news (what kids are learning or doing in each grade level)
  • Safety - Tips / concerns / procedures / emergencies
  • Health and Wellness - Cleanliness / flu or illness warning signs / news from the nurse
  • Parent Reminders, Tips and Resources – Reminders of procedures (absences, sickness, tardiness, bully prevention and truancy) / graduation information / Honor Roll lists / Fifth Block information
  • Weather Information - Drills / delays / closures and emergencies
  • Sports - Updates / recognition / athlete expectations / upcoming games / scores and records
  • Teacher and Student Recognition - Awards / celebrations / achievements / community services / competitions / nomination forms for teacher and student recognition
  • School Events - Activities / programs / clubs / band and orchestra
  • Test Reminders and Information - CSAP / CELA / ACT / AP
  • Calendars – District and school calendars / list of calendar events or dates to remember
  • Meetings - Parents meeting / parent conferences / PTA and PTO meetings / etc.
  • Miscellaneous - Lunch menus / seasonal celebrations / district and school policies and procedures / introduction of new staff members / student council / education-related articles and tips from other sources* / staff contact information / how to become a volunteer / field trip information / supply lists / dress codes / before- and after-school care programs and information / bus schedules / school merchandise order forms / student writing samples / homework tips / high school registration / yearbook purchase information / truancy news / counselor news / prom and after-prom information / scholarship information / senior exit checklist and check-out procedures

*If any content is used from another source, be sure to cite that source in the newsletter.

MAILING PANEL - If the newsletter is intended to be a self-mailer, the back page will need a mailing panel. Most likely the newsletter will be folded in half, so keep this in mind. Content includes:

  • Return address (with school logo in background, if desired)
  • Recipient mailing address
  • Postage

 

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Newsletter Aesthetics

TEXT - Items to think about when designing the text of the newsletter.

  • Flow - Simplicity is the best. The audience needs to know immediately where to start. The most important topics need to be first and jump out for the reader.
  • Typeface / Fonts and Size - Never use more than two typefaces; it takes away from the text because it is a distraction. Headlines, titles, etc. should be in a type that contrasts with but accentuates the rest of the text. Try to limit the various type sizes, too. Draw attention to the important issues and headlines by increasing the type sizes. Type sizing for the body of the text should be between 11 and 12.
  • Columns - Break the text up into numerous columns. This adds visual appeal, is easier to read and makes the document look more like a newspaper or magazine.
  • Headlines - Headlines draw your audience in, so they need to be well-written, stimulating and intriguing, and written in a bold and larger typeface. Again, the best articles and important stories should have the biggest headlines and should be placed as close to the beginning of the newsletter as possible. Type size for headings should range from 16 to 18.
  • Alignment and Margins- Make sure all column heads and margins are aligned. Structuralized alignment helps the reader establish which story, article or information to begin reading first.
  • White Space – White space is the area left blank or unmarked between graphics, text, pictures, titles, etc. White space helps to organize, give balance and call attention to a design layout. For the purposes of a newsletter, white space will be minimal because of the amount of information present; this is okay. NOTE: Too little white space can make the newsletter appear disorganized, cluttered and too busy, but too much white space can leave the newsletter looking incomplete.
  • Large Initial Letters (optional) – You can make the first letter of an article or story larger that the next, and you can also use a “drop cap” – a large initial letter that is dropped below the first line into the next line.
  • The Spread - For formatting reasons, make sure the layout is consistent throughout the newsletter. For instance, if the newsletter is separated into two columns, it should be separated like this for the entire newsletter. The newsletter will look more professional. If possible, always start a new page with a new article at the top of that page. Try to fit the entire article on a single page; this makes the article easier to read.

CHARTS AND GRAPHS - Charts and graphs are good tools to help boil down complex information. When using these graphics, make sure all information is embedded in the chart or graph, not the text, so the reader does not have to move back and forth between the text and the visual. This helps the reader understand the chart or graph and not lose interest.

ART, PHOTOGRAPHS AND ILLUSTRATIONS - The purpose of these graphics is to draw the reader in, increase interest and help communicate your message. There is no point in using any of these graphics if they do not pertain to the story, or if the photo is blurry. The graphics used for the feature articles should be bigger than the rest of the visuals. A visual is not needed for every article.

  • Captions - If a photograph is used, and it is not obvious what it depicts, be sure to add a caption. This helps explain what is going on and identify who is in the photo. Traditionally, a caption is placed underneath a photo, but it can be place above or on the side instead.
  • Clip Art - Use clip art sparingly because most of this art is overused and outdated. Sometimes, using clip art can detract from the newsletter’s appearance and message.

COLOR - To make your newsletter visually appealing, add some color, but stay within a specific color scheme, such as your school colors. For printing purposes and pricing, the nameplate should hold most of the color, because this is the visual stimulus.

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Writing Tips

Know your audience.
Include content that would interest your school’s parents and community.

Readers like:

  • Interesting topics
  • Short articles
  • Attractive graphics
  • Easy-to-skim content
  • Bold headers
  • Bulleted lists
  • Clear organization
  • Calendars
  • Small blocks of text
  • Multiple columns

Readers don't like:

  • Disorganized information
  • Long articles
  • Irrelevant content
  • Impersonal tone
  • Chaotic page design
  • Too many pages
  • Wide paragraphs or large blocks of text

Write well.
Your writing should be simple, concise and accurate. Be sure to spell check and use proper grammar. Avoid acronyms and jargon. If you must use jargon or acronyms, be sure to define them. Each paragraph should have a leading sentence that summarizes the content.

Be direct and conversational.
It can be easy to fall into a rigid, formal or aloof style when writing official content for your school. Indicators of an overly formal style include passive voice and too many non-active verbs (like “is”). Use a conversational writing style including contractions (“don’t” and “we’ll”) and rhetorical questions. Use simple verbs ("use" instead of "utilize", "find out" instead of "ascertain"). Be specific: instead of "most of our students from last year are returning this year," say, "90 percent of last year’s students are returning this year."

Be informative.
Give readers concrete information that they can use and act upon. Such information could be dates and times of upcoming events, websites and resources with more information and how-to tips.

Edit thoroughly.
Detail your newsletter by going through it, line by line, making sure that simple errors haven't crept in.

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