More than any other time of year, Christmas is when we feel most obliged to catch up with friends and family and fill them in on the events of the previous year.
But with all the presents to be wrapped and decorations to be hung, we simply don’t have time for a lengthy phone conversation with everyone that we’d like. Little wonder, then, that the round robin came about.
It’s the sort of thing you either love or loathe, but it’s an invaluable tool for the time-pressured who want to keep distant friends up to date. It has, of course, a fairly cheesy reputation, which is why we suggest acknowledging the naffness and creating a newsletter full of good cheer and poor jokes. It’s certainly a cheaper way of showing you care than stuffing their stocking with high-tech gadgetry.
Producing a newsletter is more personal than a hastily composed email. It’s also a lot less bothersome to receive if your well-meaning friend has filled it with photos of their little darling dressed as a sheep for the school nativity. As anyone who’s received such an email can attest, good cheer can be in short supply as you wrestle back control of a congested inbox.
In their defence, emails are the greenest way of sending a greeting. If the electronic route appeals, we recommend emailing a PDF of your newsletter, rather than printing it out and posting it with the Christmas cards.
1. Launch Serif PagePlus 8.0 PDF Edition. If you don’t already have this software on your PC, you can get it here. Launch the application and select ‘Start from Scratch’. Specify your paper size, then hit Finish. From the menu, select Gallery, Backgrounds. Scroll through the designs and drag-and-drop your chosen background on to the Master slide.
2. To add more pages to your newsletter, click Insert, Page. Tick the box for ‘Copy objects from page’, then repeat the process as necessary. Next, we’ll give our newsletter a title (‘A year in the life of the Smiths’) and date. Select the Standard Frame tool from the tools menu. Drag the cursor to create a text frame on the page.
3. Type some text into the frame, then right-click it and select Text Format, Character to change the font, size and colour of your text. When you’re happy, press ok and drag the text frame to its correct position. Watch out for a telltale X at the end of the frame – this indicates you’ve got too much text to fit in the box.
4. We’ll need two more text frames for this page: one for the main story and another for its headline. Select the Standard Frame tool and drag the cursor to create two more text boxes. Right-click your text frame and select Frame Setup. Specify the number of columns, gutter size and page margins, then press ok.
5. You can insert text by typing directly on to the page, but you may prefer to run it past a word processor’s spellchecker first. To import text directly from Word, go to Insert, Text File and browse to the document. Tick the box for ‘Text Will Wrap’ in the Frame Setup menu to prevent Serif hyphenating words at the end of each line.
6. Adding some images will liven up your newsletter. Select the Import Picture icon and browse to the image you wish to insert. The cursor will transform into a box with a ‘+’ symbol. Drag the cursor on the page to drop in the image. Drag the cursor further to increase the size of the image.
7. Once you’re happy with the size of your image, you’ll need to wrap the text around it. Right-click the image and select Wrap Settings. Select the way you want text to wrap around the image, then hit ok. You’ll also need to alter the size of your text frame to ensure all the copy can be seen.
8. To lighten the tone, consider adding spoof adverts, invites to forthcoming events or even a calendar of birthdays to your newsletter. These will look better in a different colour box to your main stories. Right-click a text frame and choose Fill, then select a solid colour or gradient (a graduated tint) from the menu.
9. Once you’ve selected the type of Fill you want, you’ll be offered a palette of colours; choose one and press ok. All that’s left is to add some text and images to your advert. Be careful when selecting the colour of your text – if it’s too close to the box colour, it won’t be easy to read.
10. You’re almost ready to print your newsletter. Check that all the elements are where you want them, and that there’s no left-over text. It’s also worth giving the text one last scan with the spellchecker. Finally, preview your document and select File, Print or File, Publish as PDF.