If you give up the print newsletter . . . .

If you give up the print newsletter, do one of these things

  • send it as plain text, and keep it very short.
  • send a link to a Web site that has the content.
  • send a link where you can download the file.

Please, please do not do either of these

  • send the file by email.
  • publish the file in a proprietary format; that is, a file encoded in a format that’s a trade secret and property of a company.

On that last point, two reasons

  • you shouldn’t put the onus on your readers to buy software to read your newsletter.
  • (more importantly) if the format is proprietary, there will come a day when you or some future reader will not be able to open that file.

In a nutshell, if you want to produce an electronic newsletter, make it plain text or a link to a PDF, which has recently become a non-proprietary (“open”) format. You’ll make your readers happier.

By Scott Wells

Scott Wells, 46, is a Universalist Christian minister doing Universalist theology and church administration hacks in Washington, D.C.


  1. hmm, I just got an email yesterday which contained a newsletter in a file that’s in a “proprietary format”. Could we be on the same mailing list??
    if so, the graphics seem real nice.

    but yes, as an owner of 8-track tapes and lots of laserdiscs, you dont want a format you cant use in a few years, if you want a reminder of your history.

  2. I should probably call you Scott to discuss this further. In Davenport, we are in the process of studying and making a transition to paper free newsletters. About half the congregation gets it electronically and half gets it via paper. It is an interesting process. We went geo=thermal for the building much easier than this transition, but we have a very competent person studying the implications of all of this. I’d be interested in learning more from you about what might be the best way to communicate, archive, and move forward! Roger Butts, davenport, iowa

  3. A couple of years ago I pushed hard for our congregation to go to the pdf newsletter (link sent out via email every other week). When it was snail-mailed, the wife and I both read every word, and marked our calendars accordingly. Now we never read it, except when I pick up a hard copy in the office and bring it home. Sad but true.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.