Software & Apps Design Ad Layout and Design Strategies David Ogilvy's 5-Step Ad Design Formula Share Pin Email Print jacoblund / Getty Images Design Graphic Design Photoshop Animation & Video 3D Design By Jacci Howard Bear Writer A graphic designer, writer, and artist who writes about and teaches print and web design. our editorial process Jacci Howard Bear Updated March 22, 2019 Ads and sales fliers are common desktop-published documents. Whether designing ads for clients or for your own business, you can improve the effectiveness of those ads with just a few time-proven design strategies. When readers look at your ad what do they see first? In order, research indicates that readers typically look at: VisualCaptionHeadlineCopySignature (Advertisers name, contact information) One method of making sure your ad gets read is to arrange elements in that order, top to bottom. That said, your ad should also lead with its strongest element. Sometimes the visual may be secondary to the headline. In that case, you may decide to put the headline first. A caption may not be necessary at all times and often you'll want to include additional elements such as secondary illustrations or a coupon box. While this isn't the only way to design an ad, it is an easy to implement, successful formula for many types of products or services. Here, you'll see the basic layout and three variations on this format also called the Ogilvy after advertising expert David Ogilvy who used this layout formula for some of his most successful ads. Software for Ad Design Display ads can be designed in most any desktop publishing software including Adobe InDesign, QuarkXPress, Scribus, or Serif PagePlus. Vector drawing programs such as Adobe Illustrator are also popular for single page layouts such as ads. Basic Ogilvy Ad Layout The basic Ogilvy consists of 5 componennts. Jacci Howard Bear Advertising expert David Ogilvy devised an ad layout formula for some of his most successful ads that became known as the Ogilvy. The illustration shown here is the basic design that follows the classic visual, headline, caption, copy, signature format. From this basic ad layout, other variations are derived. Try changing the margins, fonts, leading, size of the initial cap, size of the visual, and placing the copy in columns to customize the basic format of this ad layout. Visual at the top of the page. If you are using a photo, bleed it to the edge of the page or ad space for maximum impact.For photos, place a descriptive caption below.Put your headline next.Follow with your main ad copy. Consider a drop cap as a lead-in to help draw the reader into the copy.Place your contact information (signature) in the lower right corner. That's generally the last place a reader's eye gravitates to when reading an ad. Coupon Variation of the Ogilvy Ad Layout As part of the ad copy, add a coupon (or something that looks like one). Jacci Howard Bear Coupons attract attention and can increase response to your ad. Even just the appearance of a coupon—using the familiar dashed line around a portion of your ad—can have the same effect. The illustration shown here is the basic Ogilvy ad layout design but with copy in a three-column format that places a coupon in the outside corner. Make additional changes to this ad layout by changing the margins, fonts, leading, size of the initial cap, size of the visual, and changing the column layout. Experiment with different coupon styles. Visual at the top of the page.Caption below photo.Headline next.Place main ad copy in first two columns of a three-column grid or some variation. Place your contact information (signature) at the bottom of the middle column.In the third column put a coupon or a faux coupon. Placing the coupon in the outside corner of your ad makes it easier to clip out Headline First Variation of Ogilvy Ad Layout Putting the headline above the visual (or superimposed on it) is one variation of the basic Ogilvy ad layout. Jacci Howard Bear Sometimes the headline carries more weight than the visual. The illustration here is the basic Ogilvy ad layout design but with the headline moved above the visual. Use this variation when the headline is the more important element of the message. For more variation try changing the margins, fonts, leading, size of the initial cap, size of the visual, and altering the column layout in this ad layout. Headline first. When your headline packs a bigger punch or is more important than the photo, put it up top to grab the reader first. Give the headline its own space or superimpose it over your main artwork.Visual next.Caption below photo. While not always necessary, don't overlook this spot to both explain your visual and get another advertising message in front of the reader.Place main ad copy in one or two columns. Or use a three column layout and put a coupon in the third column.Place your contact information (signature) at the bottom of the second column in the lower right corner. Headline Right or Left Variation of the Ogilvy Ad Layout With vertical images or smaller visuals you may want to put the headline to the left or right. Jacci Howard Bear Illustrated here is the basic Ogilvy design but with the headline moved to the side of the visual. It could be to the left or the right (templates are for headline right and two-column copy). This ad layout format equalizes the visual and headline as well as makes more room for longer headlines or vertical images. To further customize the look of this ad layout, change the margins, fonts, leading, size of the initial cap, size of the visual, and alter the column layout. You might try a margin to margin image but place the headline over the image to one side or the other as appropriate to the background (don't forget contrast between text and background!). Visual first, to the left or right. If the visual lends itself to a more vertical arrangement or if you want to equalize the importance of the visual and headline, try this.Headline next, to the right or left of visual. When you break your headline up into several lines like this, you'll probably want to avoid headlines that are too long.Caption below photo.Place main ad copy in two columns. You might want to use a drop cap as a lead-in.Place your contact information (signature) at the bottom of the second column in the lower right corner.