BRAD’S RULE #8 Boost Response by Changing the Type
Many ad agency art directors think “sans serif’” type looks “nicer,” so they use it in their ads. Little do they know that research consistently shows that people find it harder to read this font than serif type.
Sans serif type is harder to read than serif type.
“Sans serif”’ type – strokes of each letter do not have the little “hooks” or “curlicues” of serif typefaces.
Many ad agency art directors think “sans serif’” type looks “nicer,” so they use it in their ads. Little do they know that research consistently shows that people find it harder to read this font than serif type. And if it’s harder to read your ad, more people will drop out before they get to your close.
“Serif’” type -each letter has little “hooks” or “curlicues” at the end of each stroke. This particular typeface is Times Roman, the most common typeface of all.
One advantage of Times Roman is that you can fit more characters in each line than you can in any of the other serif typefaces. That means you need fewercolumn inches to get your message across using Times Roman. And fewer column inches means, of course, fewer dollars.
Type the same paragraph in three different “serif” typefaces – Times Roman, Book Antiqua, Courier New (all the same size: 12 point). You can immediately see that Times Roman takes up less space.
Why is serif type easier to read? There are many theories. But I think the answer is simply habit. Everything we read newspapers, books, magazines –is set in serif type. It’s what we’re used to.
Ad agency art directors like to think that using fancy types makes their ads stand out, projects an “image” or some such.
But research shows that whatever the attention they gain for the ad, the fancy type doesn’t get the message read. And if the ad’s not read, there’s no sale.
The point size also makes a difference …
A friend of mine, Dan Rosenthal, who’s a direct marketing genius, tested the point size of body copy in his ads and found that it makes a difference -to your response.
I wish to acknowledge the contribution of New York copywriter Don Hauptman, who has kept me abreast with much of this research. And keeps “peppering” me with creative ideas I can use. Many of them have found their way into this Report.
If it’s too small, people find it too hard to read. That means fewer sales
But you don’t get more readers by making it ‘extra-big’. You simply pay more money for the same number of readers. That means lower profits/higher cost-per-sale or enquiry.
Through testing, Dan discovered that if the type was less than 71/2 points, responses fell as fewer people could read it. If the type was more than 9 1/2 point, sales did not increase to cover the additional cost of the bigger space for the ad.
While you should always use serif type for body copy, bold sans serif type for headlines and subheads is better.
Headlines and subheads are short. You want your words to stand out on the page: their function is to grab a reader’s attention away from wherever else on the page it is. Bold sans serif type achieves that in a way serif type does not, even if it’s bold.
Use leading between the lines….
“Leading” is the typographical term for space between the lines. “8 on 8” means 8 point type with spacing of 8 points between each line. “8 on 9” means there’s an extra space of 1 point between each line.
In addition to adding at least one point between lines, it’s a good idea to add a couple of extra points between paragraphs. As much as I hate paying for white space, I will pay when it makes it easier to read the ad. Squeeze the lines too close together and you’ll lose readers.
It’s also a good idea to justify paragraphs. Research shows that “ragged right” (this paragraph is “ragged right” –an uneven right-hand margin) is actually easier to read. However, you lose readers at the end of each column. For some reason, it’s easier for the eye to make the transition to the next column when the text is justified.
Type a couple of paragraphs in the following manner and this will give you a feel for the difference leading makes. Justify both paragraphs and set in 9 point Times Roman. The first paragraph should be “12 on 12” -no leading. The second paragraph should be “12 on 14” -a leading of 2 points. You can see how much easier the second paragraph is to read. By the way, another consideration in choosing point size is the width of the column. As a general rule, the more characters per line, the harder it is to read. So the narrower the width of your column, the smaller the point size you can use without losing readers.
– Brad Sugars –
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