The rough draft of an ad is usually laid out about three times larger than it is to appear in print. It is always well to make a penciled lay-out in the rough, conveying the general effect the ad is to have when complete. The illustration on page 140 shows a rough draft, the preliminary idea- the details being worked out later. The general scheme of this blocking out would be: First, heavy border separating the ad from the gray of the page, framing it away from adjoining matter; second, the heavy mass effect of the headline and footline; third, the gray of the body. To avoid an even effect and give a distinctive finish to the balance, the headline and body are not margined the same. There is plenty of white space to balance the heavy blacks of the border and head, and footlines.
Even the most experienced advertising man will find the rough sketch of the utmost importance in giving him the idea of what is to follow. If this sketch is correctly laid out and balanced, the writing of the advertisement becomes a very simple matter, as it is easy to take up the ad, line by line and part by part, completing each in logical order so as to evolve a harmonious and effective whole.
In working out the details of an ad the writer takes his first sketch, and duplicating the border on another sheet, fills in the display head and catch-lines in approximately the same size as the type to be used. This may be done roughly and if occasion demands, in rapid sketchy strokes, so as to be quickly completed. Accuracy of lettering or fineness of effect need not be especially sought after, as long as the lettering and writing is legible and the spelling, capitalization, and punctuation accurately and clearly indicated. Unimportant errors will be seen and corrected, either by the compositor in setting or the proofreader in reading the ad.
In the lettered rough draft shown on page 142, representing the second stage in the writing of a railroad ad, the first three lines constituting the main catch-line are first drawn. The second catch-line, "Southwestern R. R," will usually be a "stock" catch-line, that is a line used as a sort of trade mark, and varying only in size- never in lettering- on all the stationery and advertising matter of the road. If this is the case, it simplifies the writing that much, as it has only to be indicated and the cut supplied, besides it aids the writer in knowing how the display will look. The display type is lettered in, the body is proportioned as desired, the words are given plenty of room on the page and the ad is ready for the compositor.
Whether or not to indicate the style of type and kind of border to be used depends upon circumstances. Usually- and particularly when indicated as in the lettered-in draft just mentioned it is best to trust to the judgment of the compositor. Type-setters doing the composition on ads should be, and in the best offices are, men possessing considerable practical artistic ability as well as mechanical dexterity and have little or no need of any other information than shown by copy correctly blocked out. When copy is sent to an office where a firm has not done business or when an ad embodying any peculiar fea tures is required, border and types might well be indicated. This is done by writing the name and size on the margin opposite the matter to be so set, and con- necting the two by a line. as in proof-reading.
The two points of display are the announcement of the "shortest line to St. Louis," and the title of the road. These are the two most important features and hence bear the largest display. Were but a casual glance to be given to the ad it would be enough to create the thought in the reader's mind, "The Southwestern Railroad is the shortest line to St. Louis."
The three paragraphs following are of nearly equal importance and bring out the following points: (1) Leaving time of various trains; (2) a pleasant time while riding because of completeness and fineness of the train; (3) rate for trip, reasonable enough to make the reader wish to go. These three paragraphs might be transposed and not lose their effect, the final paragraph, however, introducing the "personal element" or "direct appeal" to the reader, "Why not go this way, TO-DAY," should stand at or near the last, so as to leave the question with the one reading the ad. The location of the city office, station, and the telephone number of the ticket office fall naturally after the name of the road.
These have already been referred to in a preceding paragraph, and defined as a distinctive word or line always used to designate the firm name. It is safe to state that over 50 per cent of the larger firms doing business to-day make use of a distinctive device embodying the name of the firm, and sometimes the address. As a variant of this a pithy sentence or short motto is often used accompanying the name of the business. Railroads often use such a catch-line: "The Albert Lea Route;" "The Burlington Route;" "The Sunset Route," are examples. Often a part of a name is always displayed and made more important than the remainder. Thus the Consolidated Fire and Marine Insurance Company is one of a large number of fire and marine insurance companies doing business in the same field, hence the catch-line "CONSOLIDATED," is always displayed by them.
Some firms go further and have all ads set having a distinctive border adapted by them or even cut to their order and copyrighted. This border may bear no relation whatever to the goods or product sold by the firm, being designed simply to attract by its artistic effect, and by continuous use be associated by the public with that particular firm using it. A better device if circumstances permit its use, is one representing the particular article the advertisement is exploiting; thus a firm advertising watches could use a border of watches, an ink manufacturer a border of ink-bottles, etc. It is common for regular advertisers to use ads always having the same general appearance owing to arrangement and typographical display. Uniformity of composition, if not insisted on to the point of sameness, is always good for continuous advertisers, particularly if an established house is advertising their customary line.
An example of a distinctive border is illustrated on page 146. The upper half represents the completed ad, the lower half the first rough sketch. The border is the outline of the distinctive design adopted by the advertising road and besides being of greater use in attracting immediate attention to the ad than a plain border, it is an extension of the use of the design adopted by the railroad for its catch-line, which consists of a black background the shape of this border and bearing in white letters the name of the system.