Seven Tips for Building a Better Bulletin

Posted on July 3, 2014 by - Vibrant Parish Toolkit

Bulletin Cover1. Use boxes sparingly: Cluttering a bulletin with lines and boxes makes it difficult for your parishioners to know where to look. Keep lines to a minimum and separate content with color or white space. Try adding images to help illustrate the content allowing for a more attractive, clean layout.

2. Use white space: It is a design element that is often overlooked by editors, who strive to fill every bulletin with as much information as possible. Cramming the publication full of content can overwhelm parishioners and potentially discourage them from reading. Paring down the text is like clearing the aisles. Cutting some content will greatly improve the overall look and organization of the publication, making it easier to navigate, which should in turn encourage reading.

3. Avoid underlining: The practice of underlining dates back to the days of the typewriter, when it was used to emphasize text because typewriters lacked bold and italic styles. It is unnecessary in today’s age of modern technology. In addition, underlining is confusing for your readers because Web addresses are typically underlined. Text with a line underneath makes the words appear to be hyperlinks in print. Keep in mind that most professional publications such as books, magazines, and newspapers tend to avoid underlining, so it is wise to follow this best practice.

4. Make sure your text doesn’t get lost: Using dark texts on dark backgrounds makes them difficult to read especially for older individuals. Try using a lighter background or using white text with darker backgrounds. A general rule of thumb is that the background color should be only 30% tint or less to ensure it is light enough that text can be read. When inverting your text (white text on a dark background), make sure your background color is at least an 85% tint so it is dark enough to provide contrast for the white text.

5. Stick to 3 Fonts or Fewer: Multiple fonts can make a publication look messy and unprofessional. Stick to three or fewer styles for a more cohesive, appealing look. As the saying goes, everything in moderation. The key is not to overuse any one technique.

6. Use Better Images: Images found through search engines like Google and Bing are often copyrighted and using them without written permission is illegal. These images are also often low resolution and so appear low quality when printed. For higher quality images that will print beautifully, we would encourage you to use LPi’s Art & Media Portal or a stock photo website like

7. Provide new, relevant content: Recycling the same material from week-to-week discourages parishioners from reading the bulletin. Move this kind of static content to your website and direct readers there instead. This will free up room for more dynamic, interesting, articles within the bulletin to engage your parishioners.