Compose the
Good content may survive a poor design,
but the best design cannot overcome poor
Even if you intend to generate
most of your material internally, developing
a set of writer’s guidelines is a good way to
start the process. Typically offered to
contributors by magazine and book
publishers, guidelines answer all of the
questions a writer with little or no
knowledge of your publication might ask.
Even if you intend to solicit an article only
periodically from someone within your
organization, composing guidelines can
help you flesh out ideas you might not
otherwise consider.
Some of the common issues guidelines
address are:
he subject/theme of the publication
A statement of editorial style
Who to contact
The action it is hoped the reader will take
The type of information featured
Subjects and angles that attract readers
The appropriate writing style
How much is paid
What rights are purchased
How submissions are made
Specific articles being pursued
Recent articles published
At this stage, especially if you will be
working with lots of writers and/or
complex topics, you might also identify a
style book or manual to follow. A style
manual sets forth a set of rules regarding
the usage of words—punctuation,
abbreviations, distinctive treatments,
documentation, and so on. Some also
deal with related topics such as book
layout and general printing and produc-
tion. When an issue such as the correct
way to use parentheses arises, everyone
involved can turn to the same source for
answers. An excellent example is The
Chicago Manual of Style, 14th Edition
(The University of Chicago Press, 1993).
Plan and execute, gather
reactions, revise the plan, and execute
again—that is the formula for succeed-
ing at virtually anything. The trick is to
document the plan exactly so you know
where and how to make the sweeping
changes and subtle adjustments that
reactions dictate. The best way to start
developing newsletter content is to plan
the content mix. What types of materials
will you be producing and how much
real estate will you devote to each area of

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