Should I create my newsletter in a word processor or email program? Which email
program should I use?
Those two questions came from a visitor to the Manager's Guide to Newsletters
website. She planned to start an email newsletter that would go to parents of
students at her school and wanted to know about the software she would need.
In response, we'll look at these two important questions for newsletter publishers.
Word processor or email program? This can be one of the simpler issues, at least if
your mailing list is not too large at start-up. You can write your newsletter in any
email program, or any word processor that allows you to save your work as plain
text (ASCII). Most writers prefer to use a word processing program for at least the
first draft, since it provides more text manipulation features and saving options.
Once you've written, rewritten, spellchecked, and proofread your newsletter in the
word processor, copy and paste it into the body of your email program (we'll discuss
how to handle that text in the next article in this series).
Of course, you'll need an email program of some kind to send out your newsletter,
regardless of where you wrote it. Among email programs, check both those stand-
alone programs and those integrated with browsers.
The most common program is Outlook Express, which comes bundled with Internet
Explorer, and that in turn comes bundled with Windows. But, don't overlook the
possibilities in the Netscape and Opera suites. In addition, there's also a new
challenger, Mozilla Thunderbird, which is associated with the Firefox browser.
Turning to stand-alone email programs, take a look at Eudora (which offers an
advertising-supported version and a version you can buy). It has a solid reputation
among many email newsletter publishers, and I consider it the best all-purpose
email client for my PC (however, I don't like it on my Mac, where I use the built-in
I've used all of these programs at one time or another, and each has advantages and
disadvantages. In considering them, review the strengths and weaknesses of their
address books as well as their message composition capabilities.
Once your mailing list grows beyond a certain point (depending on your personal
inclinations), you'll need to move it out of the email program and into something
In my case, once the list got to something like a hundred subscribers, I found the
management of it frustrating. For example, adding and deleting email addresses
from an email program takes more time and trouble than doing it in a word
processing program or, on a more sophisticated level again, a database program.
In managing a list of several thousand, I use the Find feature to quickly pick out and
delete someone who wants to unsubscribe. Similarly, it's easy to get the list back
into alphabetical order at any time by using the sorting feature of a word processing
Another growth issue: As your subscriber list grows, you may want to move away
from your email program and use an independent mailing service. In that case, you
go to a provider company and upload your list one time. After that, you simply paste
your newsletter into a form they provide, and click the Send button. Then, the
service sends out your email using its servers.
But, to get started you need only an email program, and you have many free and
worthwhile options. Try each one out for an issue or two of your newsletter, to find
what suits you.
Robert F. Abbott, the author of A Manager's Guide to Newsletters: Communicating
for Results, writes and publishes Abbott's Communication Letter. Read more articles
about Internet communication, as well as email and printed newsletters at: http://www.communication-newsletter.com/ic.html