Newsletter Guidelines and Tips

The tips and resources below can help you produce an engaging office or department newsletter that aligns with the university's Brand Identity Guide.

Visual design


Incorporating the university's logo will align your newsletter with the SUNY Cortland brand.

  • In multipage documents, the SUNY Cortland primary logo can appear on the first or last page.
  • Avoid using any unofficial logos or wordmarks.

Graphics and photography

  • Consider replacing stock images with options from our media library.
  • While icons and other graphics may be used, clip art and other imagery should be used sparingly. 


Changing the colors is a quick and easy way to make a stock template feel Cortland-specific.


The university has two official fonts available for download as well as suggested alternatives when these fonts cannot be used.

  • When using a desktop application, such as Word, Publisher or InDesign, use the university's official fonts, Agenda and Utopia.
  • When using a web-based platform such as Canva, Open Sans and Times Neue Roman may be used to replace Agenda and Utopia respectively.
  • Make sure text is readable; 10pt is recommended the minimum size.

White space

White space can assist with reading comprehension, direct the reader's attention and keep your design clean.

  • Split up long blocks of text. Use headings, subheadings, paragraph breaks and bulleted or numbered lists.
  • Include white space around photos, text and other elements to ensure pages are not overcrowded.

Written content


Determine your newsletter's goals and curate engaging content. Suggested topics include:

  • New initiatives, programs or services
  • Awards, honors or accreditations
  • Advocacy information
  • Upcoming events
  • Mission-related stories
  • Introduction of new or leadership-level faculty/staff

Writing style

Top newsletter tips are below. View the Writing Style Guide for a comprehensive list. 

  • Abbreviations: Avoid abbreviations/acronyms unless they are universally known, such as "FAFSA."
  • Dates: Write out dates. Abbreviate month names when written with a date, except March, April, May, June and July. Avoid ordinals (1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc.). Do not abbreviate days of the week.
    • Examples: Wednesday, Aug. 25; Monday, May 3
  • Times: Write a.m. and p.m. lowercase and with periods. Only include minutes to indicate a specific time after the hour. Use noon for 12 p.m.
    • Examples: 6 to 7:30 p.m.; 9 a.m. to noon; Friday, Sept. 17, at 4 p.m.
  • Symbols: Avoid ampersands (&), the "at" symbol (@) and the pound sign (#). Reserve them for official names or social media.
  • Punctuation: Use only one space between sentences and following other marks such as colons. 

Contact information

Include contact information for your office or department on the last page of your newsletter.


Office/department name
SUNY Cortland
Building, Room number
Phone number
Email address
URL (optional)


Marketing Office
SUNY Cortland
Brockway Hall, Room 311



  • Alternative (alt) text must be used to describe an image for readers using assistive technology or if the image fails to load. Include alt text for all images in web or PDF newsletters. The text should describe the contents of the image.
  • Avoid including regular text in images. Instead, insert text and images as separate elements.


People who browse using a screen reader can use headings like a table of contents to "skim" through pages.

  • Use headings liberally.
  • Avoid all caps in headings.
  • Make sure your headings are tagged as such.

Color contrast

Stark contrast between text and its background can increase reading comprehension, especially for those with visual impairments.

  • Use dark text over a light background, or light text over a dark background, whenever possible.
  • If text is set over complex visuals such as graphics or photos, be especially mindful of contrast. Avoid setting long, running text over complex visuals.


If your newsletter is in web or PDF format, hyperlink your URLs using descriptive text.

  • Avoid link language such as "click here" or "this link."
    • Example to avoid: "For the Communication Guide, click here."
  • Instead, use text that describes the destination of the URL.

If your readers might print your newsletter, you can include the full URLs in an appendix or as footnotes.


If your newsletter is in PDF format, run an accessibility check. This will assess your headings, alt text, reading order, color contrast and other features.

If you use an online layout program such as Canva, it may be challenging and time consuming to address all accessibility concerns. In these situations, include a plain or rich text version of your newsletter. If using Microsoft Word, be sure to use heading formatting so text is correctly tagged. This feature is available in the styles gallery of the Home tab.

Other considerations


Adopt a publication schedule that makes sense for the amount of new content you have: weekly, monthly or semesterly. Sending too often may cause readers to delete your emails without reading them or to become frustrated.

Considerations when determining frequency:

  • Is this information time-sensitive?
  • Does the timing align with other events (e.g. finals week)? 


Be consistent with your frequency, design, newsletter name, tone and other elements.


  • The more frequently you send your newsletter, the shorter it should be.
  • If your newsletter is a PDF, the attachment should be 10MB or smaller.