ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Making Advertisement Layouts More Readable - 5 Tips from Drayton Bird

Updated on June 12, 2014
A Perfect Ad Layout
A Perfect Ad Layout | Source

Creating Ad Layouts that are Easy on the Eye

Drayton Bird has gathered many of these tips for ad layout design from research by Colin Wheildon for The Newspaper Advertising Bureau of Australia. And some from test results – and common sense. He shares his expert views on how various typefaces, font sizes, placements of headings and illustrations, and the settings of layouts affect readability.

For ad layouts to stand out in the jungle of ads all screaming for the reader’ s attention, art directors have to know a thing or two about the basics of good layout design. It’s not just a question of typefaces and font sizes. Art directors should be aware of how the human eye peruses a page.

Drayton Bird- Former International Creative Director of Ogilvy & Mather  Shows Art Directors and Copywriters How to Design Good Ad Layouts
Drayton Bird- Former International Creative Director of Ogilvy & Mather Shows Art Directors and Copywriters How to Design Good Ad Layouts | Source

Tip 1: Typefaces, Font Size and Consistency

A page of copy set in serif type was comprehended well by 67% of readers. When the same copy was re-set in sans serif, the figures nose-dived to 12%. What’s more, constant changes in type face are not only ugly but confusing. At least one person in ten has imperfect eyesight. So copy in very small type is usually unwise. Type obscured by setting it over tints or textures or colours is fatal.

Tip 2: All Caps and Type Settings

The perceived legibility of a series of headlines was reduced by over 20% when the setting was changed from caps and lower case to caps only. Good comprehension slumped greatly when type was set with ragged right setting (typically down from 67 to 38%) and, even more so with ragged left setting (67 to 10%).

Tricks that Start and Keep People Reading

These tips, says Bird, are largely based on the research of Rudolph Flesch in the 1930s and 1940s, but will always apply because readers will read the same way.

  1. Sentences should be short. Average 16 words. Usually no longer than 32.
  2. Paragraphs should be short, containing just one thought in each – particularly the first paragraph.
  3. Words should be short and lively, not long and dull.
  4. The word “You” should appear 2 to 3 times more than “I” or “We.”
  5. “Carrier words and phrases at the ends and beginnings of paragraphs encourage continued reading. So do questions which require answers.
  6. Sentences should be broken at ends of pages and columns, to encourage continued reading, with “Please Turn Over” or the like at the end of a letter page.
  7. Unnecessary verbiage should be stamped out. There is no need to use three words where one will do.

Tip 3: Reverse Type and Columns

When a lot of type is reversed out white on black, it kills response. With one full page magazine charity advertisement, response doubled when white on black was replaced with the normal black on white. Type set in narrow columns is easy to read – the eye doesn’t have to travel so far. Around 50 characters per line is about as long as it should go.

Tip 4: Distracting Illustrations and Headlines

Illustrative elements which point out of the layout – like people’s feet, or their eye path – lead the reader out of the advertisement. Illustrations which block off a column halfway down the page discourage the reader from traveling further down. Headlines marooned in the middle of the copy destroy the flow of that copy and halve comprehension. So do headlines placed under the copy.

Another Great Ad Layout at Ogilvy & Mather Direct
Another Great Ad Layout at Ogilvy & Mather Direct | Source

Top 5: Blocks of Type and Huge Headings

Long unbroken blocks of type are daunting. They should be broken up by crossheads, indents, changes in type. Giving “shape” the letters and ads will also encourage readerships. Huge headings are also to be avoided as they take up expensive space that has been paid for by the client who expects each inch of the layout to work for him.


Drayton Bird's Commonsense Creative notes previously only available to employees of Ogilvy & Mather

Graphic Design Layout Critique


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    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)