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How to Make a Holiday Newsletter Template

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Final product imageFinal product imageFinal product image
What You'll Be Creating

Happy Holidays! In this tutorial, we'll walk through how to create a holiday-themed newsletter template in Adobe InDesign. We'll work on a front and back cover, as well as two different interior pages that you can mix, match, and expand upon in any way you like!

Keep in mind that even though we're giving our work here some holiday flair and this could work great for a Christmas newsletter template, these topics and techniques can apply to your newsletter project year-round!

What You'll Need

You'll need the following resources in order to complete this project:

Ready to dig in and make a festive newsletter together? Let's begin!

1. How to Start a Newsletter Design 

Step 1

Let's start in Adobe InDesign. Create a New Document by going File > New.

I chose to work at 8.5" wide by 11" high, which is often called US Letter size. Keep Facing Pages toggled On, since we're going to have two page spreads in our composition. 

However, keep in mind that these are only suggested document settings. Your settings should depend on the goals of your project. For example, you may want to go A4 sized or maybe work with a square layout. When in doubt, ask your printer questions. They'll be able to help you make a strong decision!

Starting a New DocumentStarting a New DocumentStarting a New Document

Step 2

Before we create our document, let's look at some of the other settings here.

My Margins are set to 0.5 inch, around all sides. This gives me a half-inch "breathing room" around the perimeter of my work.

When you're working with imagery that extends to the edge of the page, it's often wise to work with a Bleed. I've defined my bleed as 0.125 inches around all sides. Why bother with a bleed? The bleed extends beyond where your work will be trimmed, ensuring that your content will remain "full bleed", or to the end of the printed space.

The Slug is a space where additional content can be added for reference, like instructions. I left mine set to 0 inches, and honestly, it's not something I use much, if ever. Still, it's good to be aware of what it's for!

So, how do you know what settings are right for you? Arm yourself with the knowledge of what they are, and ask your printer questions. They're going to have recommendations that will help you make decisions and set your document to the right specifications. 

Once you're happy with your settings, click Create

Made a mistake? Just go to File > Document Setup, and you can adjust any of these values, if needed.

Document SettingsDocument SettingsDocument Settings

Step 3

Now, here we are in our new document. Make sure you have your Pages panel open. It is shown below. If you don't see it, go to Window > Pages to open this panel up. 

Let's talk about Master Pages. It is highlighted, below, at the top of the Pages panel. 

Master Pages rather work like a template within your document. We can, for example, place design elements in A-Master, and then apply them to any of the active pages in our document.

The second highlight on the Pages panel, below, is the bar you can drag to extend the visible Master Pages. Make sure to click and drag to extend this space, as we're going to create more Master Pages—and you'll want to be able to see them easily.

Pages PanelPages PanelPages Panel

Step 4

Click on a Master Page. Then, click on the plus sign, highlighted below, at the bottom of the Pages panel to create a New Master Page. 

Notice, in the example below, that I now have A-Master and B-Master, two sets of facing Master Pages. 

[None] is a blank Master Page—we can use this when we don't want an active page to draw upon any Master Page. 

Looking at master pagesLooking at master pagesLooking at master pages

2. How to Create a Newsletter Cover Design

Step 1

Let's add some active pages to our document now. Select one of your active pages—not the Master Pages—and then click the plus sign at the bottom of the Pages panel. 

Creating Master Pages and creating new Active Pages is a pretty similar process. Make sure you understand how to do both!

Below is an example of four pages in my document. 

Creating New PagesCreating New PagesCreating New Pages

Step 2

Notice that page 1 and page 4 are on their own—these are the first and last page of my document, the front and back cover.

I'm going to use A-Master as the Master Pages for the front and back cover of my Newsletter. 

Looking at PagesLooking at PagesLooking at Pages

Step 3

So, let's go "inside" A-Master. Double-click on A-Master to access these Master Pages. This area is highlighted below. Remember, we're editing the master here, not the active pages. See how A-Master is highlighted in blue in my example below?

Master PagesMaster PagesMaster Pages

Step 4

Now, let's start adding design elements.

For starters, let's place a festive background image. To place an image, to go File > Place, and then select your image file.

I used this festive snowflake pattern.

When placing your image, it will be inserted into a rectangular container. We can resize this container using the resize handles on the rectangle. I resized mine to fit the size of the page. 

Keep in mind that there are two things we can resize here—the container itself and the contents within it. Double-click to toggle between the two.

When looking at our spread here, imagine looking at the book cover, open. The front of the book will be the right page.

Placing an ImagePlacing an ImagePlacing an Image

Step 5

Next, let's add an image. I used this image of some folks enjoying winter weather.

Again, this process is File > Place. Then choose your image from your computer. Resize the image so it fits your composition.

In my case, I added a 12 pt Stroke to my image's rectangular container. This added a white border around the image. 

Need to adjust the Stroke size? Use the Stroke panel—if you don't see it, go to Window > Stroke. Remember, you can change the Stroke Color in your Tools

Adding an Image and StrokeAdding an Image and StrokeAdding an Image and Stroke

Step 6

Now, let's add a title here, using the Text Tool. I made my title read "Newsletter", but you'll want to make yours something more appropriate for your project.

In my example, I'm using the free Grand Hotel font

I used the Text Tool twice, here—one for the letter "N" and the second time for "ewsletter". This way, I could make the "N" larger than the rest of the word, for aesthetic purposes!

I also wanted to experiment with giving my text a Stroke. To do so, use the Stroke panel, as we did in our previous step.

However, let's take a peek at our Fill and Stroke colors. They're highlighted in the image below. See the small square and the small "T" icons? Click those to toggle between changing the color of the active container and changing the color of the active text. 

Then, we can choose between either of the two stacked squares to change our Fill or Stroke color, accordingly.

Adding and Styling TextAdding and Styling TextAdding and Styling Text

Step 7

I wanted my title to look a little less stiff, so I used the Rotate Tool to tilt my text a little! 

With the Rotate Tool selected, click once to choose an anchor point (this is the axis that your content will rotate on), and then click and drag to tilt and rotate the selected contents.

I also decided to add some extra text at the bottom of the image—just a little holiday edition note. I used the same font, Fill, and Stroke, for visual consistency.

Rotate ToolRotate ToolRotate Tool

Step 8

Newsletters often feature highlights or little blurbs of content on the cover that give the viewer a taste of this issue's content. 

I decided to allot some space for this content with three white rectangles. Use the Rectangle Tool to create them, with a white Fill. 

Rectangle ToolRectangle ToolRectangle Tool

Step 9

So, what about the back cover? Let's add some matching elements.

I copied the background from the front, and pasted it onto the back. I also copied the holiday edition text, and pasted it onto the back. You can edit the text itself with the Text Tool. Finally, I also copied one of the white rectangular containers. 

Reusing elements like this is not only simple and speedy, but it can also help promote visual consistency and unity in your composition!

I placed some sample text in my white rectangles. Use the Text Tool to do so—and if you need some placeholder text, I recommend Lorem Ipsum.

Finishing the CoverFinishing the CoverFinishing the Cover

Step 10

Finally, let's add some finishing touches.

I placed some decorative snowflakes onto my composition—you can download them as a part of this snowflake themed resource pack.

Adding SnowflakesAdding SnowflakesAdding Snowflakes

3. How to Create Newsletter Layout Designs

Step 1

Now, let's dig into the interior of the newsletter.

Remember, we're working on Master Pages here, not our active pages. Our cover design is on our two A-Master pages. Now, let's go "into" B-Master

Notice that B-Master is highlighted in blue, in the Pages panel, below.

So, here's how I started my layout. 

  1. Place an image to use at the top of the composition. I decided to reuse the snowflake background, but instead isolate it to the top portion of my composition. Remember, you can resize any container using the visible resize handles, when the container is selected.
  2. Add some text using the Text Tool
  3. Add a horizontal line, using the Line Tool. It has a 3 pt Stroke.
  4. Add some Guides to help organize your layout. You can do so by clicking and dragging from your Rulers. Don't see the Rulers? Go to View > Show Rulers.

Let's take a moment to talk about text. The Text Tool can be pretty straightforward when we're typing short things, like titles or short quotes—but what about longer body copy? 

There's a red plus sign, highlighted below. This means there's more text inside this text box than the box can display. The great thing here is, we can have the text flow into more than one box. This makes setting a large quantity of type much easier than separating and organizing it by hand.

Click on that red box to "pick up" the extra type. 

Extra Body CopyExtra Body CopyExtra Body Copy

Step 2

Here, I've placed that extra type into a new text box. You can either click and drag to create a new text box on the fly, or you can paste your text into an existing rectangular container. 

Text FlowText FlowText Flow

Step 3

I didn't want my two pages to be identical, so I tried adding some imagery on the second page. Remember, to place imagery, go to File > Place. I used this image of a fellow happy to receive a holiday gift! 

As with our cover, I added a Stroke to the container holding my imagery. This time, I went with a 6 pt Stroke, in white. 

Placing ImageryPlacing ImageryPlacing Imagery

Step 4

Next, add in some footer elements. 

I used the Line Tool to create a thinner horizontal line at the bottom of the page. 

I decided that I wanted page numbers in the outer corners of both pages. However, it would be tedious to place page numbers on every page, especially if our newsletter was quite large. Instead, go to Type > Insert Special Character > Markers > Current Page Number. The resulting page number is a "B"—not a number at all. However, it will dynamically display the number of any page this Master Page is applied to. Handy, right?

Finally, I used the Text Tool to add some supplemental text opposite the page number. This could be anything you like, from the title of the article to the title of the publication, or even the name of your organization.

Adding a FooterAdding a FooterAdding a Footer

Step 5

Let's add more imagery! I used this image of a holiday dessert and this image of some happy folks enjoying some winter weather. 

Remember, to place an image, go to File > Place

To keep things visually consistent, I've continued to use a 6 pt white Stroke around the containers holding my imagery. 

Adding Additional ImageryAdding Additional ImageryAdding Additional Imagery

Step 6

Newsletters often contain data of some kind, be it progress, initiatives, or other content relevant to your organization.

Let's experiment with a way we could visually share some data with our readers. Below, you'll see a little graph that I created, all using simple techniques we've already covered in this tutorial.

  1. Using the Rectangle Tool, start with a white rectangular container, just like the ones we created on our newsletter cover. 
  2. Then, the bars in the graph were also created using the Rectangle Tool. With the Rectangle Tool selected, click and drag to draw the bars. Then, Place the snowflake background into these rectangular containers. Remember, you can resize imagery inside these containers, as well as the containers themselves! Just click and drag on the resize handles, with the interior imagery selected.
  3. Use the Text Tool to create supplemental text. The dates and the descriptive text are all applied with the Text Tool. Remember, we can change the color of the text in our Tools panel. Don't remember how? Go back to Step 6 of Part 1 of this tutorial.
Creating a data visualizationCreating a data visualizationCreating a data visualization

Step 7

Remember our decorative snowflakes, from the cover? Let's place some of them into our layout here. To do so, go to File > Place, and select the image you'd like to import.

You can either Place your images multiple times, or copy and paste them onto your layout. Have fun with it! Don't be afraid to try placing snowflakes in different places.

Adding decorative snowflakesAdding decorative snowflakesAdding decorative snowflakes

4. How to Add, Remove, and Move Pages

Step 1

So, once you're happy with your layouts, how do you use them? Right now, all of our work is within Master Pages—not on our Active Pages.

Let's take a look at the Pages panel. Below, I've highlighted B-Master—the master pages where I created my interior layout. I've also highlighted pages 2 and 3 of my Active Pages. This is where I want B-Master to be applied!

Click and drag from B-Master to pages 2-3 to apply these pages to your spreads. It's that simple! 

Applying Master PagesApplying Master PagesApplying Master Pages

Step 2

Your newsletter will most likely have multiple spreads, so let's review adding pages one more time!

As we saw earlier, you can always add a new page by clicking the plus sign at the bottom of the Pages panel. 

However, this isn't always the most convenient way. Sometimes, we just need to duplicate  a page we're already working on. Luckily, this is super simple!

Select the page you want to duplicate. Right-click (on PC) or Command-click (on Mac), and then select Duplicate Page.

Or there's an even faster way! Simply select the page you want to duplicate and drag it to the plus sign, at the bottom of the Pages panel. Voila! Your page is duplicated.

Duplicating PagesDuplicating PagesDuplicating Pages

Step 3

But what about our Master Pages? You'll likely want to have different Master Pages for different layouts. We could, of course, create them all from scratch—but sometimes it's beneficial to copy what you've already done, and use that as a base for a new spread.

Select the Master Page you'd like to duplicate. Right-click (on PC) or Command-click (on Mac), and then choose Duplicate Master Spread. It's that easy!

Duplicating Master PagesDuplicating Master PagesDuplicating Master Pages

Step 4

All right, so we have our Master Pages applied to our spreads. Now what do we do? You're probably going to want to make individual, local edits to these pages.

Hold Shift, Control/Command, and click to make an element of your composition editable in your local Active Page. Keep in mind, however, that now this element will be independent of your Master Page. These changes are unique to this page only!

Below, I've done this to my text columns, because I want the body copy on this page to be unique, as an example.

Editing Active PagesEditing Active PagesEditing Active Pages

5. How to Save and Export Your Work

Step 1

Don't forget to save your work! To do so, go to File > Save.

However, let's take a moment to talk about InDesign Template files! If you save your work the "normal" way, you'll have an InDesign INDD file. Nothing wrong with that, either—you could adapt this work and reuse it all you like.

However, an INDT file, or an InDesign Template file, has the added benefit of preserving your original. When opening an INDT file, you can create a new, untitled document based on your template. Handy, right? 

To choose which file type to save as, when saving your work, click on the Format options in the Save window. 

Saving your workSaving your workSaving your work

Step 2

However, there are other ways you can potentially save, share, publish, and export your work. Check out File > Export to review your options. This is where you would go, for example, to export your work as an EPUB or a PDF file.

Below is an example of the export settings you'd see, if you chose to export as a PDF. As you can see, there is a lot here—we won't cover everything here in this tutorial. However, it's important to be aware of where these export settings are, in case a situation or printer requires specific output. You can do things like exporting specific pages, choosing how your pages are displayed, and more!

When in doubt, ask your printer. They should be able to help you make informed decisions.

Exporting your workExporting your workExporting your work

And That's a Wrap!

Thanks so much for joining me on this exploration of ways you could create a holiday newsletter template! This is just the beginning—you could make as many layout variations as you like, for your newsletter! I hope you have some new insights into how to create a newsletter template. 

Example of Final Newsletter DesignExample of Final Newsletter DesignExample of Final Newsletter Design

If you created a newsletter inspired by this tutorial, feel free to share a sample with us in the comments! We'd love to see!

Need some extra help? Maybe you need a jump start or a time saver to help you get your newsletter done faster. Check out these lovely newsletter design templates—great not only as a starting point for your holiday newsletter, but for newsletter designs year-round! 

Take a peek at these InDesign newsletter templates; they might even serve as great newsletter design ideas for your project. 

InDesign Newsletter Template

Looking for a clean, professional design with a pop of color? Easily change the color here to whatever you prefer—whether it's to match your branding or for a touch of holiday cheer! Not only that, this template is adaptable for use year-round.

best newsletter templatesbest newsletter templatesbest newsletter templates

Newsletter Template InDesign

This design is colorful and varied, while still well organized—and this is just a sample layout! Check out some of the other layouts in this lovely template. Looking to add some holiday flair? Add a couple of seasonal assets!

Newsletter Template InDesignNewsletter Template InDesignNewsletter Template InDesign

Newsletter Layout Design Template

This design has 12 unique pages inside—mix and match them to create the perfect newsletter for your organization. Again, adding holiday flair is as simple as adding in your own content. Good thing is, after the holidays, you have a foundation you can use all year!

Newsletter Layout Design TemplateNewsletter Layout Design TemplateNewsletter Layout Design Template

Newsletter Design Template

Bold color can be so eye-catching and memorable! Easily edit colors, text, color, images—save time and adapt the eight included pages to meet your project's needs. We could all use a little extra help at the busier times of the year, right? 

Newsletter Design TemplateNewsletter Design TemplateNewsletter Design Template

Creative Newsletter Layout Template

Looking for something a little different? I love colors like pink and silver for a different take on holiday flair. Simply add your own images and content, and you're ready to go. This is one that could be easily adapted all year round too!

Creative Newsletter Layout TemplateCreative Newsletter Layout TemplateCreative Newsletter Layout Template

Want to learn more about newsletter design and composition? Maybe you'd like a peek at some inspiration, to get your creative juices flowing! Check out these articles for more.

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