David Ogilvy’s Rules

Below is a set of rules you should follow while you make a printed advertisement. These rules were compiled from the fundamental book on advertising written by Ogilvy, titled „Ogilvy On Advertising” (1983). Although, I strongly advise every marketer and copy writer to read the book, but you may take advantage of the below script instead. You will find it indispesable.


1.  Always put a headline because five times as many people read the headlines as read the body copy.

2.  22% more people read headlines with news (now, today, new, amazing, introducing, etc.).

3.  Include the brand name in your headline.

4.  Specifics work better than generalities.

5.  To increase recall by 28% put the headline in quotes.

6.  Tricky headlines are counter-productive. Your headline should telegraph what you want to say.

7.  Do not put blind headline. To increase recall by 20% say what the product is or what it does.

8.  When you advertise for women use a photograph with a woman – use the same rule with opposite sex.

9.  Full color ads are 100% more memorable than black and white.

10.  The readership of the body copy in magazine ad is about 5%.

11.  Address your copy to second person singular and never plural.

12.  Superlatives like „Our product is the best in the world” convinces nobody.

13.  Always try to include the price of your products.

14.  Until you’ve got a better answer, you Copy (from the masters).

15.  Readers look first at the illustration, then at the headline, then at the copy. So put them in that order from the top to the bottom.

16.  Headlines below the illustration are read by 10% more people than headlines above the illustration.

17.  Always put a caption under illustration.

18.  Your caption should include the brand name and the promise.

19.  Photograph has priority over graphics.

20.  Copy has priority over illustration.

21.  Use serif type font for your copy.

22.  Use three columns of type, 35 to 45 characters wide.

23.  Put caption under every photograph.

24.  To increase readership by 13% start your copy with drop-initial.

25.  Always set type black on white.

26.  Do not set your headline in upper case.

27.  Do not set your copy in upper case.

28.  Do not superimpose headline on your illustration.

29.  Do not put a period at the end of your headline.

30.  Do not set copy in a measure which is too wide or too narrow to be legible.

31.  Limit your opening paragraph to a maximum of 11 words.

32.  After two or three inches of copy, insert a cross-head, and thereafter throughout.

33.  Set key paragraphs in bold face or italic.

34.  Help the reader into your paragraphs with arrowheads, bullets, asterisks and marginal marks.

35.  If you have a lot of unrelated facts to recite, simply number them.

36.  To increase readership by 12% use leading (line-spacing) between paragraphs.


Compiled and Revised by AB.