Designing Ads for Newspapers

Posted February 4th, 2014 by .

Categories: Advertising, Newspapers.

In spite of most current opinion, the use of the printed newspaper to promote your product or business is still very much alive and should always be considered as part of the mix when planning out your next marketing campaign.

There are a few assorted sizes of newspapers available today, and depending on your marketing area, you may or may not have a choice of where to run your ad.


Newspaper advertising is sold in total inches as determined by the number of columns wide by the number of inches deep. So, an ad that is 3 columns wide by 7 inches deep is a 21” ad (3 x 7=21). As such, you are charged a certain amount per “column-inch”.

Many newspapers still use a “6 column format”. That is, a page is divided into 6 columns, with a space or “gutter” in between each column. The size of the column is determined by the width of the page, many of which can be as narrow as 10” (tabloid) or as wide as 13” (broadsheet).

These days, quite a few newspapers are going to a modified “tabloid” size, in which a single page usually measures 11” x 17”. These tabloid size papers have column widths that can range from 1.58” to 1.72” per column. Publications such as The New York Times are what is referred to as a “broadsheet” due to their page width of 13.125”. Their single columns are about 2.125”.


In order to ensure your ad getting noticed in a newspaper among the throng of editorial content and businesses vying for attention, try some of these ideas:


This is your first and best chance to grab someone’s attention as they peruse the page. Keeping in mind the size of the publication and your ad size, you may not have much room to use, so keep the headline simple yet noticeable. Sometimes 4 clever words work better than 20 meaningless ones.


Where your ad is can make or break its success. You should always try and have your ads on the first few right-hand or odd number pages… 3, 5, 7, 9, etc. Right-hand pages are typically more noticed because the majority of newspapers are read while being held up, not spread open flat on a table top. This causes your eyes to be directed to the right hand pages the majority of the time.

If your ad is less than half a page, try and position it in the upper right corner for maximum effectiveness. Page position can be requested at most newspapers, and many account representatives will work with you on this.


While most people read the newspaper for its editorial content, if your message stands out, it will be noticed. Even if that reader is not in the market for what you are selling, a smart message will still be seen.

When someone is looking for a particular product or service, it comes down to what are you offering that makes your ad more attractive than another company offering the same or similar product.

For example, if you are selling insurance, by advertising a substantially lower rate than your competitor for the same policy, a customer looking to buy insurance may decide to call you first. Another approach to give something away with a purchase, such as a “Free Gift” or “Additional Savings”.


More common in retail advertising, having a “call to action” in your ad places a degree of urgency in front of the reader. The CTA is typically a firm “end date” or “Must call by…” in order to receive the discount or extras on the product you are trying to market.


A picture can be worth 1,000 words if it is the right one. Sometimes, a simple image with a clever headline and a few lines of body copy is all you need. A good photo allows the reader to impart their own thoughts on the pertinence of your ad and can subconsciously lead them to show more interest in your product just because they like the dog in the photo.


If you have a website, make sure the address is in your newspaper ad. Make sure you mention your newspaper ad on your Facebook and Twitter accounts. Run a radio spot that says “See our ad in todays newspaper”. Your job is to get as many people to see your ad as possible by using ALL forms of media, on line or off.


Just because your first newspaper ad did not yield results does not mean you close up shop. Vary your message, your ad size and location. Add color and images, or go in the opposite direction and try a lot of white space.

Newspaper advertising is still one of the most effective forms of media for businesses to use, and perfecting your ability to maximize its potential just takes a little practice.