If you want people to read, understand, and respond to your print advertising, you must avoid these sins at all costs.
Sin #1: Using reverse type for body copy.
Reverse type is when you use light colored text on a dark background, such as using white text on a black background. Research shows that using reverse type for the body text of your print advertisement will lower readership of your advertisement by up to 80%. The reason for this is using reverse type for body size text is extremely difficult to read. And, if people cannot read your ad, they will ignore it. If you want your body copy to be read and understood, do not use reverse type. Research has shown that if you want the highest level of readership, comprehension, and response rate to your print advertising you should use black text on a white background. There is a reason why all books and newspapers are printed with black text on white paper. It creates the highest level of readership and comprehension.
Sin #2: Using a Sans Serif font for your body copy instead of a Serif font.
Research has shown that people find it difficult to read and understand body copy that is typeset in a Sans Serif font. Using a Sans Serif font will lower your ad’s reader comprehension by over 60%. A Sans Serif font is a soft curved font that does not have “feet” that the letters stand on. Arial is an example of a Sans Serif font and it should never be used for body copy. What you should use for body copy is a Serif font. A Serif font is a font with “feet”, such as Times and Garamond. Books, newspapers, and nearly all magazines are typeset using a Serif font because it generates the highest readership.
Sin #3: Writing your headlines and/or body copy in ALL CAPS.
Research has shown that people find reading text that is typeset in all caps extremely difficult to read as well as very annoying, especially body copy written in all caps. If you want maximum readership for your advertisement, do not use all caps for any text, especially body copy.
Sin #4: Not using a headline in your advertisement.
Readers scan headlines to determine which ads they will read, just as they do with newspapers and magazines. If your ad does not include a powerful benefit-based headline that interests people into reading your ad, your ad is basically worthless because so few people will read it.
Sin #5: Making your text so small that people need a magnifying glass to read it.
Your body text should never be smaller than 10 point. The majority of the world’s population is aging and does not have perfect 20-20 vision. Therefore, make sure all body text is big enough so that it is easily read. When people see small text that looks hard to read, they will skip it and ignore your advertisement.
Sin #6: Not using left and right justified body copy.
Research has shown that readers respond best to text that is both left and right justified, just like it is in books, magazines, and newspapers. Readers hate right hand columns that are not justified (jagged) and they also hate text that is all centered. For the highest readership levels, justify your body copy both left and right.
Sin #7: Not including a call to action to get the readers of your advertisement to take action.
The purpose of a print advertisement is to sell something. Creating brand and image is important but it should never be on the only purpose of your advertising. Every ad should have a call to action that tells readers what they need to do next in order to do business with your company. This could be call us for a free quote, go to our website to buy our product, take this coupon to a retail store, call for a free catalog, try our product for free for 30 days, respond by this date and get a free gift, etc. The point is you must have a call to action to get prospects to buy what you are selling.