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Best Practices: Tips for Creating Newspaper Ads

written by: Haley Montgomery•edited by: Daniel P. McGoldrick•updated: 11/12/2010

This article offers ideas for applying design principles in desktop publishing when newspaper ads are your next design project. Read on for 10 quick tips for creating newspaper ads that are more effective in accomplishing your advertising goals.

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    10 Newspaper Ad Desktop Publishing Design Tips

    The first article in this series of best practices for applying design principles in desktop publishing dealt with general questions and design tools at a desktop publishers disposal. Now, we take a look at some tips related to specific types of desktop publishing projects, beginning with newspaper ads. Consider these ten guidelines for creating newspaper ads that are more effective in reaching advertising goals.

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    1. Define the purpose.

    Determine what the newspaper ad is trying to accomplish. Will it promote a specific event, offer a special discount, or announce a new service? Will the newspaper ad stand alone or be part of an ongoing series? The goals of the ad determine what specific information will need to be included when creating newspaper ads.

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    2. Set the tone.

    Based on the goals for the newspaper ad, determine a tone and theme for the design. Does the promotion, sale or event have a specific theme? Whether the tone is humorous, sophisticated, quirky, youthful or in-your-face, desktop publishers can create an advertising "hook" by selecting fonts, verbiage and other design elements that reinforce the chosen theme.

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    3. Create consistency.

    Newspaper ads offer much more marketing mileage when elements are repeated through multiple ad runs. Take a design cue from other advertising that has already been run for the same company, event, or organization. Using the same logo, typefaces or graphic elements can help the newspaper ad be more memorable to viewers.

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    4. Write a successful headline.

    When creating newspaper ads, use short phrases with action words to create powerful headlines that attract readers. Humor, seasonal references, questions or popular cultural phrases can be effective if they are concise and readily understood. If the newspaper ad is part of an ongoing promotion, keep headlines consistent to provide greater exposure, and be sure to present the headline in a very readable font.

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    5. Size the ad correctly.

    Newspaper advertisements are typically sold in increments of inches per column width. There are a few standard newspaper format sizes that govern the column widths to which most publications adhere. Ads sized incorrectly will appear awkward in the newspaper, or may be reduced or enlarged disproportionately by the paper's production staff. Check with the newspaper advertising department to verify the specific dimensions.

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    6. Use white or black space.

    Because newspapers contain a large amount of text, larger blocks of white or black space tend to stand out. They provide visual relief from the busy-ness of so many words. Desktop publishers can use this to their advantage when creating a newspaper ad.

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    7. Save the sweet spot.

    Reserve the lower right corner of a newspaper ad for the logo and contact information. Because people read from left to right and top to bottom, placing the logo, phone number and website in the lower right will ensure that it is the last thing the reader sees as he scans the ad.

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    8. Limit fonts.

    A good rule of thumb is to limit fonts to three different typefaces at most in order to give the ad a clean look. Make sure they are very readable and reflect the tone of the newspaper ad.

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    9. Gauge response.

    Include a "call to action" in the newspaper ad as a way to elicit reader response. Directives like "bring in this ad" or "mention this ad" are effective ways to gauge specific response to an ad placement during a sale or promotion.

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    10. Proofread. Proofread. Proofread.

    Check the facts of the ad against the parameters of the promotion to be sure it is correct. Double check phone numbers, fax numbers, addresses, website urls and any other location or directional information. Print the newspaper ad at actual size to check its readability. Use the spellcheck feature available in desktop publishing software to catch any overlooked errors.

Design Best Practices for Desktop Publishing

Easy to implement design tips that can make your desktop publishing projects more effective.
  1. Desktop Publishing Tips and Principles of Design Basics
  2. Best Practices: Tips for Creating Newspaper Ads
  3. 10 Basic Graphic Design Principles for Tri-Fold Brochures
  4. Best Business Card Design Practices