ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

How to Write Effective Advertising Copy

Updated on June 19, 2013
Howard has worked as a corporate copy editor and publicity writer. He now does freelance editing, writing and proofreading.
Howard has worked as a corporate copy editor and publicity writer. He now does freelance editing, writing and proofreading. | Source

Also by Howard S.

Advanced Techniques for eBay & Amazon Capsules: Advanced techniques of using the HubPages Amazon and eBay capsules make page layout easier, improve visual appeal and increase sales revenue. Learn to improve your product sales pages, procedural hubs and any other hubs that contain ad capsules.

Best E-commerce Shopping Cart Solution: PrestaShop: Every online e-commerce website needs a shopping cart—review of PrestaShop.

How to Nurture and Develop Corporate Publicity Sources: Follow-up is key to nurturing news sources and making them aware of the significance of the work they are doing. The overall purpose of follow-up is to display our publicity version of a news item, both for accountability and in order to open the channel for attracting further news items.

How to Copy Edit in a Foreign Language: What is required to copy edit? What should a foreign language proofreader look for? If an author knows more about the language than about the mechanics of document preparation, a skilled copy editor can help the writer without knowing the language!

Ad-vert-ise v. to persuade others to take a specific action.

The word advertise contains two Latin roots. Vertere means ‘to turn around or change’. Ad is a prefix meaning ‘towards’.

Thirty years ago, writers wrote ad copy while graphics artists did layout. Those lines have become increasingly blurred as one person or department tries to do both. I offer reminders here for both the mechanics of writing and graphic layout, since everyone is weaker in one than the other.

The psychology of persuasion

Effective advertising copy is one of the most challenging kinds of writing. It needs to attract the reader at the beginning, hold attention throughout, and instill conviction by the end. No amount of wordsmithing will rescue a faulty concept.

  • Envision a specific individual as you begin to write. Edit later to be more inclusive if necessary.
  • Hook your reader’s attention with the first line.
  • Make a claim and substantiate it with fact.
  • Conclude with a pithy, memorable and actionable objective—just one.

Mechanics of writing

A publicity manager is often hired for certain graphics layout software requirements. It is harder to qualify writing skills, though. The result is bad ad copy on very nice layouts. Keep the following writing skills in mind.

  • Keep paragraphs short. Divide longer ones.
  • Keep sentences short and simple.
  • Minimize dependent clauses. Make them independent.
  • Rewrite to eliminate any possible ambiguity in grammar or phrasing.
  • Use as few coordinating conjunctions as possible.
  • Cut or replace empty words. Use colorful vocabulary instead.
  • Remove doublets. Slash redundancy. Use synonyms to add meaning while cutting word count.
  • Write in the active voice. Passives have no place.
  • Be sparing with the following punctuation [! , :] and parentheses. Study the proper use of em-dashes. Avoid semicolons.

Advertising skills poll

Which aspect of advertising is most challenging for you?

See results

Graphic layout

As word processors become more capable, copy writers increasingly do graphic layout themselves. It is essential to target the medium.

  • Use bulleted or numbered lists instead of strings separated by commas.
  • Add subheadings to break up longer ad copy.
  • Use white space generously. This is a natural byproduct of bullets, subheadings and short paragraphs.
  • Use blocks of color for sidebars. HubPages, for example, allows silver and blue for certain capsule types that can “float” to the right.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • CarNoobz profile image


      5 years ago from USA

      And isn't it sad that so many of us who make money by writing -- I'm talking about me, not you -- need to have grammar explained to us? LOL

      Ah, you gotta love that Internet =)

    • Howard S. profile imageAUTHOR

      Howard S. 

      5 years ago from Dallas, Texas, and Asia

      @CarNoobz: I know what you mean. I thought about explaining grammar for those who may have forgotten. But realized it could never look like ad copy that way! I chose one audience.

    • CarNoobz profile image


      5 years ago from USA

      Excellent advice, Howard. I've been doing some freelancing, and there's always a need for solid advertising copy. I'll definitely refer to this one again in the future.

      A couple of those bullet, it's been a long time since I was in English class! hahaha! I have to do some research just to understand the tips. lol

    • Howard S. profile imageAUTHOR

      Howard S. 

      5 years ago from Dallas, Texas, and Asia

      Peg, the problem with semicolons (properly used) is that they can almost always be replaced with periods. Simple is better advertising copy. Sooo, I just removed two from this piece. It is almost too choppy now, better for advertising than as an article.

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 

      5 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      Thanks for the helpful tips, Howard. Each of us are advertisers in a certain sense here on HubPages. I found the part about punctuation quite helpful. I'm guilty of using semi colons too often AND conjunctions. lol


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)