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PRA: Newsletter

How to Build the Newsletter

The Newsletter is essentially a guide intended to provide students or faculty with resources that will help them complete their research task. It is designed to lead the user through the process of researching a specific topic, or any topic in a given field or discipline, usually in a systematic, step-by-step way, making use of the best finding tools the library has to offer. This is also sometimes called a Research Guide or a Pathfinder. The goal is to gather all of the most useful, relevant, reliable and authoritative resources on a variety of academic, work-related or general-interest topics.

We use the Newsletters as marketing, so we like them to be bold, catchy, clean, and informative. It brings attention to lesser known resources and drives interest toward the library.

Summary below taken from "How to Make a Good Library Pathfinder":

A. Provide a brief introduction and explanation for your Newsletter

This introduction allows students/faculty to get a firm grasp on the topic covered in the newsletter. This should be 1-2 succinct sentences.

B. Resources

Provide a variety of resources, both in print and electronic forms. Some resources to include are:

  • 1-2 Reference Texts (reference guides, encyclopedias, dictionaries, almanacs, bibliographies)
  • 5-8 Books/ebooks (can be background information or specific information on the topic)
  • 3-5 Articles (from journals, magazines, and other periodicals, many of which can be found online)
  • 3-5 Web Pages (can include pages devoted to the topics, university web pages or syllabi, web portals, Web sites for various organizations, online museum exhibits, and myriad other resources)
  • 2 Multimedia Resources (audio and video recordings, images, films)
  • 2 Database suggestions
  • Call number range for searching hard copy books
  • 5 Controlled Vocabulary terms that would be useful for searching in the databases

Include both print and electronic forms.

Carefully consider your audience when evaluating more complex research tools. Because your audience consists of students who are enrolled in introductory/basic classes, include resources that are easy to access, understand, and use.

D. Organization of the Pathfinder

Though it is tempting to organize the newsletter the same way we organize resources in a library (primarily by type), it can be more useful to design them according to users’ needs, which means starting with general, “overview” resources, and then moving to more specific facets of the topic.

For example, a pathfinder focused on a specific country might begin with an encyclopedia article about that country in general, and then branch into different aspects of that country, such as history, economics, religion, politics, and culture. From there, each of these topics might split again into more specific sections. For example, history could branch into different periods of history, which can then branch into resources on important people, places, and events.

Different types of resources should be scattered throughout the newsletter, so that books, articles, and multimedia resources are placed together at each level.

E. Design Aspects

Your newsletter should be 1-2 pages front and back. The size can be varied, as this will primarily be viewed digitally (as seen with the example).

Make good use of photos to describe your resources (free stock photos are everywhere, or you can take a screenshot as well). You can use free icons (or create them if you're savvy). The task is to make it engaging and interesting but also informative (like an infographic).

All resources should be linked to their proper URL in the catalog/website/etc.


Best Practices for Designing an Engaging Newsletter:

  1. Focus on flow. “Flow” is an important concept in design. Since this newsletter is designed in a vertical fashion, you want it to flow, both cognitively and visually, from the top down. Check out this example from Kitchen Cabinet Kings. Notice how the infographic flows freely from one section to the next. This is possible because of borders and other separating design elements. The Newletter, although not an infographic, can be designed this way as well. Keep sections simple, text light, and give separation for different sections.

  2. White space. The graphic term, "white space," refers to utilizing blank areas in your design to give the reader rest from the visual presentation. This creates a clean, uncluttered document.

  3. Fonts. Most people don’t think twice about typography. They simply select the first font that looks good. However, typography is actually one of the single most important elements. If you have to use small text, use it sparingly. Make sure you use no more than 2 fonts per design.

  4. Simple color schemes rule. It may seem simple, but the color scheme you select will go a long way toward the draw and usefulness of newsletter. As a general rule of thumb, try to use a simple color scheme that somehow relates to our brand’s colors. Don't use florescent colors, and stick to 2-3 complementary colors per design.

  5. Minimalism reigns supreme. If you find yourself with too much information, look for ways to cut text. Can something be represented visually? Does it really need a description?

  6. Contact details. Be sure to put down how to reach a librarian (Carrie's contact info is fine). 

Some good tips:


CANVA design tutorials:

  • Canva for Beginners:
  • Essential Canva Tools:
  • The Art of Alignment:
  • Working with White Space:
  • Harnessing Hierarchy:
  • Canva Shortcuts:
  • More Canva Shortcuts:
  • Canva tricks:
  • Designing with Shapes:
  • Intro to Infographics:
  • Starting with Scale:
  • Color relationships:
  • Color your design:
  • Fonts:


The following Newsletter is a sample of the work I'd like you to complete. This does not contain the full work you are required to submit, but it will give you a general idea of what I'm looking for in a Newsletter. 

The process for completing this 3-week projects will be:

  • Week 1: Practice tutorials and begin research
    • Read through the tabs regarding the newsletter
    • Click on all links to read articles and complete Canva tutorials
  • Week 2: Continue Research and create draft
    • Create an email with the resources you plan to use
      • submit to Carrie for approval
    • Work on your draft in Canva
      • Make this your best effort
      • Submit the draft to Carrie (assume this is your final form)
  • Week 3: Revise draft and create final product
    • Carrie will advise in design elements and make suggestions
    • Submit the final to Carrie for review and dissemination