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from Galen Stilson



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Marketing Tips for Dentists
Published by Galen Stilson
Direct Response Copywriter/Consultant
Dental Marketing a specialty

Design Elements Than Can Help Improve
The Response To Your Printed Advertising
Part 3


Body copy typeset in 11 point with 2 point leading (11/13) is easiest to read. Don't vary much from the 10 to 12 point type size with 2 point leading ... except when targeting older audiences.  Because many older adults have difficulty reading, you might increase the type size to the 12 point to 16 point range.


Italicizing long strings of copy can reduce reading speed by up to 14 to 16 words per minute. So, for attention-getting and emphasis of longer strings of copy, you're better off bolding or underlining.


Drop initials (printing the first letter of the first word of an article or ad in much larger type size) used in long articles/ads increases readership by up to 13%. Like other attention-getting devices, though, more is not better. If you use more than one drop initial per article (one for each paragraph, for example) it distracts from -- rather than adding to -- readership. Stick with one drop initial per article and you'll be better off.


The tighter you squeeze letters and words together, the more difficult they are to read. Kerning by just 3 units reduces comprehension by over 50%.


Layouts that comply with the principles of reading gravity (people naturally read from left to right, top of page to bottom of page) increases readership by about 100% over layouts that don't. Therefore, when designing an ad, please keep the reading law of gravity in mind and create a layout that uses a logical, quickly comprehensible and understandable oriented progression of copy/illustrations. Don't make readers skip all over an ad trying to put the pieces together. 


If you use a large photo or illustration in your ad, it is what readers will generally look at first. Then, because of the law of gravity (see above), their eyes will naturally move down from, or to the right of, that photo. Thus, if you place the headline above a large photo, it will get less attention than if you place it below the photo. And I can't think of a time when you don't want your headline to get maximum attention. Therefore, when you use a large photo or illustration in your ad, it should be at the top of the ad with your headline below it.


The larger the photo associated with a block of copy, the higher the readership of that copy, usually. In various studies it was found that people will read about 25% of the copy associated with a two-column photo and about 50% of the copy associated with a four-and-one-half column photo. Of course, the quality and appropriateness of the photo has a bearing on total readership also.


Whenever you use a photo, you should always use a caption. One to four lines of photo caption copy will enjoy some of the highest readership in your ad. Caption readership is often 100% higher than body copy readership. Because of the law of gravity, the caption should be placed below or to the right of the photo.


As far as attracting attention, studies have shown that readers will generally go to a vertically shaped photo before a horizontally shaped (80% to 20%). And generally they'll be drawn to a circled area before a square shaped area. Closed shapes get attention before partially opened shapes.

If you'll follow the ad design guidelines I've given you over the last three issues it's likely that you'll see an increase of readership, response and profit from your advertisements. And ultimately, that's what it's all about.

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Copyright 2006 by Galen Stilson. Reproduction without permission is strictly prohibited.