For some people, including a copy of a family newsletter with a greeting card has become a tradition. Using Pages or iPhoto to assemble a newsletter makes the job simple. Here, we’ll focus on Pages (£13.99, bit.ly/Vu9eEo) – a top-notch, easy-to-use page layout application that offers great templates. 

Step 1: Choose a template Choose File -> New From Template Chooser; then, when the Template Chooser appears, look to the left column and click Newsletters. You’re then presented with a number of great templates which will serve as a starting point for your own newsletter. I’ll select the first template, called Informal Newsletter, for this example. It’s a family-oriented design that’s easy to customize.

Pages provides dozens of different templates, all of which can be customised.

Step 2: Make it your own You’re free to modify a template as much as you like, but if you’re looking to get a quick start, here are a number of simple tweaks that will help make the template unique.

Change fonts. The simplest way to customize the template is to change the fonts. Double- or triple-click any text block to select all the text. The Format Bar (just below the tool bar) will then show text-specific options, including a pop-up font menu. (If you do not see the format bar, click the View icon at the far left of the tool bar and choose Show Format Bar from the drop down menu.) Choose a font you like from this menu to make the switch, and then repeat this process for other text blocks.

Change colors. Another quick way to give the template a facelift is to change its color scheme. Here’s an example: Click the red background of the Informal Newsletter template. You’ll notice that tiny X’s appear at the corners. This is because the shape is locked; to unlock and change it, choose Arrange -> Unlock. Now head over to the Inspector (View -> Inspector) and click the Graphic inspector tab. At the top, you’ll see Fill. The shape is currently being filled by a tiled graphic, but to keep things simple, let’s change it to a solid color. Choose Color Fill from the topmost pop-up menu and then click the color block at the left. You can then choose any color you like for the background. (Want to change more? The fill or stroke color of any object on the page can be changed by clicking it and returning to graphic section of the Inspector to choose the new look.)

Change graphic attributes. It’s easy to tweak the look of many graphic objects. Let's tackle the lead photo. Click it once to select it, and then return to the graphic section of the Inspector. The only current attribute is a drop shadow, but drop shadows are a bit last-century, so let’s get rid of it by unchecking Shadow. Now give it an outline by choosing Line from the Stroke pop-up menu. Unfortunately, the default line is white and a rather plump 6 points, so let’s tweak that, too. Click the color well to choose a color that complements the background color you chose earlier, and then use the directional arrows to adjust the line weight to 1 point. Lastly, let’s pare back the object’s rounded corners. In the top left you should see a small blue circle; click it and drag it to the left to tone down the corner roundness.

You can quickly make a template your own by changing fonts, colors and other attributes.

Step 3: Add photos. Once you’ve tailored the template you can go about the business of adding content, and this typically starts with photos. Choose Show -> Media Browser to access your photo library or click the Media button in the tool bar. Find a photo you’d like to use and drag it onto one of the placeholder images in the newsletter to replace it. Repeat this process until you’ve filled up the template with your own photos. Want to adjust the placement of a photo within the frame? Click it once and you’ll see a pop-over with a slider that lets you adjust the size of the photo. And if you click Edit Mask, you can then click and drag the photo to reposition it.

After you get the look you want, go ahead and place your own images in the template.

Step 4: Add written content and more pages. The toughest part of this process will likely be adding written content to your newsletter. I can’t help with that part, but I can offer a few tips to help streamline the process:

Keep it short. Too much detail can cause eyes to glaze over. If you’re telling a story, focus on the basics and avoid unnecessary detail. (Save that for a novel!)

Keep it fun. A family newsletter doesn’t have to be a dry retelling of the year’s events. Add in a tasty new recipe, a funny joke, and a snapshot of the kids’ latest artwork. Be entertaining.

Attributes such as fill color, stroke color and weight, and drop shadow can be configured in the Graphic Inspector.

In all likelihood, you will need to add at least one additional page to your newsletter. All Pages templates come with a series of secondary template pages, each with its own specialized function (text, text with sidebars, photo collage). To add a new page, click the Pages icon in the top left of the toolbar and choose the template that makes the most sense for your newsletter. And don’t forget to tweak the design to match your first page.

Step 5: Print it! The last step of this process is printing your newsletter. If you’re including it with a greeting card, use a medium weight paper that has some rigidity (to give it some heft) but that isn’t so stiff that it cannot be folded. A 20-24lb paper is probably best.

Alternatively, you can always output the newsletter as a PDF. Choose print, and when the print form slides into view, simply choose Save as PDF from the PDF pop-up menu in the lower left corner. You can then attach your newsletter to email messages or even post it to your website for family and friends to download.