Although these three elements go hand-in-hand, they are frequently misunderstood and confused with one another. Definitions are in order.
Makeup: is the overall pattern of any publication. It involves the placement of item A before item C and after item H. One publication's makeup may indicate a list of newly elected officers before an announcement of awards. Another publication may do the opposite. Makeup involves placement within the overall publication.
Layout : refers to exactly how an individual page or pair of pages is presented to the reader. One layout will have a picture in the upper right corner of the paper and the copy explaining that picture under it. Another layout might have the copy beside the picture. Still another might want to devote all of the left hand page to the picture and all of the right hand page to the copy. The placement of visual elements such as photographs, drawings and copy on a page or pair of pages is the layout of those pages.
Content : refers to all within the publication. It might mean six photographs and thirty inches of copy, it might be referred to as a listing of sub-titles. Content is not only what appears in the table of contents but the pictures and word blocks as well.
Makeup, layout and content are separate and distinct but must work together. Allied and in mutual cooperation, they create the format of your publication. The way these elements are handled determines the harmony or discord of your publication.
At this point let's concentrate on content. Top priority must always be given to forthcoming meetings. Announcements of these should always be your first and most important news item. All possible details should be given. Remember the old journalism school's Five W's and an H. Who? What? When? Where? Why? and How? Include answers to them all in mentioning your chapter's next meeting.
Subsequent items can include, but certainly need not be limited to, such topics as committee reports, new member comments, the chapter's last function, etc. Remember that anything faintly to do with your chapter or its members is a possible item for your newsletter. A compatriot may have married or received an award, someone might have a genealogical question and someone else might have a respectful disagreement with some area of chapter activity or lack of activity. All are worthy of publication.
As the chapter's editor, your primary responsibility is to keep the newsletter interesting and informative. Your membership MUST look forward to receiving your publication. It must enjoy reading your publication and it must feel satisfied after having done so.
Possible topics for inclusion in your publication are itemized below:
- Previous meeting
- Invitation to forthcoming events
- Calendar of events
- Chapter elections
- Committee activities
- Public expressions of appreciation
- Welcome new members
- National S.A.R. news
- State S.A.R. news, meetings, officers
- DAR and CAR news
- President's report
- Genealogical questions
- Interesting genealogical facts
- Transferring members
- Recruiting drives
- Annual Budget
- Application requirements