Practical English Composition: Book II. - For the Second Year of the High School
by Edwin L. Miller
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When your reader has been aroused to action, his way should be made as easy as possible. Every direction that he may need should be plainly before him, every convenience that will reduce his action to a minimum. He should be told clearly how and where he can get the goods that you have convinced him he wants, your name, your address, your telephone number, and everything else that will enable him to reach you promptly and certainly.

VI. Assignment III

Write a compelling sentence for each of the advertisements constructed in Assignment II (a), adding the necessary conclusion.

Construct a series of five advertisements, each dealing with a single attractive feature of one of the articles selected in the preceding work. Each advertisement should carry its argument through from attention to action.

VII. Suggested Reading

James Parton's Captains of Industry.

VIII. Memorize


When God at first made man, Having a glass of blessing standing by; Let us (said he) pour on him all we can: Let the world's riches which dispersed lie Contract into a span.

So strength first made a way; Then beauty flow'd, then wisdom, honour, pleasure; When almost all was out, God made a stay, Perceiving that alone, of all his treasure, Rest in the bottom lay.

For if I should (said he) Bestow this jewel also on my creature, He would adore my gifts instead of me, And rest in Nature, not the God of Nature; So both should losers be.

Yet let him keep the rest, But keep them with repining restlessness: Let him be rich and weary, that at least, If goodness lead him not, yet weariness May toss him to my breast. GEORGE HERBERT.



"Honesty is the best policy." BENJAMIN FRANKLIN.

I. Assignment I

Pick out in a large advertisement for a breakfast food the number of words of one syllable other than prepositions or articles; the words of two syllables; of three syllables; of more than three syllables. Reduce your results to percentages.

Make a similar study of advertisements for a set of books, of chewing gum, of an automobile, and of a piece of machinery in some technical publication. Compare results with a similar count in a newspaper paragraph, an encyclopedia paragraph, and paragraphs from Macaulay, Dickens, Carlyle, and Kipling.

II. Clearness

Clear, simple language, language that will be readily understood by the least intelligent of your possible customers, is an essential of good advertising. Every word that is above the lowest reasonable level of understanding limits the number of possible customers. The railroad attorney who was asked to write a notice that would warn people to be careful at railroad crossings did not dig into his law books for a polysyllabic sentence like this: "Whereas this is the intersection of a public highway with the right-of-way of the —— Railroad Corporation, each and every individual is hereby advised to exercise extreme caution." He wrote a sentence which is a classic in its way "Stop! Look! Listen! Railroad Crossing."

III. Assignment II

In the advertisements selected for Assignment I, count the number of words in each sentence and strike an average for each. Make a comparison with sentence length in other writings as suggested.

IV. Adaptation to Audience

The degree to which the simplification of language in an advertisement should be carried depends upon the audience addressed. It is evident that a larger and less educated portion of the public is included in the possible customers for breakfast food and chewing gum than there are in the portion who would be likely to purchase a set of books. An even smaller portion of the public would be interested in an automobile or a piece of automatic machinery. A good advertisement should be framed in language that will be understood by all possible purchasers of an article. Many household articles, such as bread, breakfast food, candy, and confections, are advertised in language that a fourth-grade child will readily understand.

V. Assignment III

Write an advertisement for an athletic contest in which your school will take part, addressing it to the students in your school.

Write an advertisement to introduce a new candy or confection among grammar-school children.

Write an advertisement for boys' hats; for girls' hats; for overalls; for a magazine devoted to automobiles; for a magazine devoted to fiction.

VI. Simplicity in Structure

An advertisement must be clear, not only in language and construction, but in mechanical structure as well. Attention-lines and command-lines must be short and set up so as to stand out clearly from the body of the advertisement. The eye takes in automatically from four to six words at a glance, setting the natural limit of length for strong features in an advertisement. Artistic arrangement helps an advertisement because carefully balanced matter is more attractive than inartistic combinations. A well-balanced advertisement, an advertisement in which the points are properly subordinated, conveys its meaning to the reader more easily than a badly distributed statement of the same arguments. In the last analysis good art is little more than good order, order that is pleasing to the eye as well as the mind. Good order requires a distribution of eye-effects that coincides with the distribution of mind effects.

VII. Assignment IV

Measure ten particularly attractive advertisements, illustrated or otherwise. Find the line on which the attention is focused and measure its distance from the top and bottom. Test these distances by the formulae:

A - B C - D E - F

(a) AB = 1 inch. AC = .62 inch. AE = 1.62 inches.

(b) AE : AB :: AE + AB : AE 1.62 : 1 :: 2.62 : 1.62

(c) CD : AC :: CD + AC : AD 1 : .62 :: 1.62 : 1

This is the so-called "golden rectangle," the most pleasing of all rectangular forms. The attention-line CD is at the point that makes the upper section a "golden rectangle." The capital letter "H" is also one of the most common arrangements in advertising. The square is another pleasing figure and there are many other forms in which advertising matter may be balanced.

VIII. Brevity

Advertising occupies space for which a high rate frequently is paid. Brief statement is therefore a factor of great importance. If a small space is all that is available, the problem of attracting attention becomes most important. It should be evident that a few words clearly and plainly printed are far more effective in a small space than a long message that is in such fine print that it will strain the eyes of the reader. In the one case you say something at least to your reader. In the other, you have no chance to say anything because you have tried to say too much. When it is necessary to confine your message to a small space, the attention-sentence, or in some cases the command-sentence, is the part to use. Many signs seen from the rapidly moving window of a street-car or railroad train carry only the name of the product attractively displayed, with a command to use it.

IX. Assignment V

Select one of the articles for which you have written advertising and write a complete advertising campaign for it, including five newspaper advertisements, five magazine advertisements, a four-page folder for distribution, signs for street-cars, signs for posting along highways, and other devices that you think would be effective.

X. Classified Advertisements

Most newspapers carry columns of classified advertising consisting of many small advertisements grouped together under various heads. These are commonly used by the public for getting help; obtaining situations; buying, selling, and renting real estate; and disposing of miscellaneous articles. The principles of advertising compositions apply also to these advertisements. The attention-factor is not so important, however, as the reader of the advertisements in the classified columns is looking for the article or service that you to have sell. A glance through the classified columns of a newspaper will show clearly the increased attractiveness resulting from the skillful arrangement of details and the use of clear forceful words.

XI. Assignment VI

Write an advertisement offering a room of your home to rent, using not more than thirty words; an advertisement applying for work for which you consider yourself fitted; an advertisement offering for sale a house with which you are familiar.

XII. Memorize


The year's at the spring, And day's at the morn; Morning's at seven; The hill-side's dew-pearled; The lark's on the wing; The snail's on the thorn: God's in his heaven— All's right with the world. ROBERT BROWNING.


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