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How to Write a Good Advertisement

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2015 Reprint of 1962 Edition. Exact facsimile of the original edition, not reproduced with Optical Recognition Software. This is in effect a short course in copywriting, wherein Schwab offers concise, specific and tested information on every phase of copywriting, including: 100 good headlines and why they work; What the Illustration should and should not do; 22 ways to hold the reader longer; 14 instructive split-run tests and more. Schwab was the head of his own ad agency as well as a student of advertising.

248 pages, Paperback

First published June 1, 1980

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About the author

Victor O. Schwab

9 books10 followers
Victor Opper Schwab was born on March 13, 1898 in Hoboken, New Jersey. Son of Albert James and Letitia (Irvine) Schwab. At the age of 19 he enrolled as a night student at Columbia University where he met Max Sackheim, then copy chief for a leading mail order ad agency, Ruthrauff & Ryan. Sackheim hired Schwab as his private secretary because he could take shorthand. However, his contributions to mail order ads, especially for the Dale Carnegie book, “How To Win Friends and Influence People” helped make it a best seller in the 1930s. That got Schwab promoted to copywriter where he became a research pioneer by using coded coupon ads to split test headlines, appeals, copy length, layouts and call to actions. He worked on the Charles Atlas and Sherwin Cody’s English Classics Course in addition to the Dale Carnegie book and others.

In 1926 he and a partner, Robert Beatty bought out Ruthrauff & Ryan and renamed it Schwab and Beatty where they went on to build the Book-of-the-Month Club into a giant in the book subscription industry.

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5 stars
236 (49%)
4 stars
143 (29%)
3 stars
77 (16%)
2 stars
18 (3%)
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4 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 30 reviews
Profile Image for Reader.
43 reviews
August 2, 2016
It's good enough book about copywriting.
But, for some reason, I have found it really boring. It's not easy to grasp through these chapters like with other similar books.
It took me a long time to finally read it completely, and I did it only because Gary Halbert suggested it in his Hands on Experience blog post.

If you really need it for some reason read it.
If you just want to quickly learn some theory in this area feel free to take some of those books published in the last 20 years and you are set to start writing your first copy.
Profile Image for Jon Xavier.
9 reviews
June 22, 2016
My favorite of the "classics" of copywriting. Some of the other books that come up again and again in discussions of copywriting can sometimes feel a little too theoretical to be actionable. Not How to Write a Good Advertisement. It's written in a really engaging style, it's chock full of useful examples with great commentary by the author, and it lays out the process of writing an ad step-by-step.
Profile Image for Obi.
82 reviews4 followers
March 24, 2016
Are you a copywriter? Then you've got to read this book. Like...mandatory. It's basically a text book but it reads well. Trust me, you'll get a lot from it. Only if you like being good at what you do.
Profile Image for Brian.
7 reviews
February 2, 2014
Very good book with sample headlines and ads. It shows how to properly construct ads for sales. A classic advertising book.
Profile Image for Howard.
283 reviews4 followers
January 30, 2022
The advice in this book is great, I also like the questions at the end of each chapter. However he talks typewriters and "copy men" and the book is really about writing magazine ads and direct mail. Significantly out of date, but I think some of the info is useful. Its such a joke seeing a computer on the front cover (I guess for the print edition) :-)
Profile Image for Carson Quarnberg.
60 reviews1 follower
March 23, 2021
Read this one for work. It's fine, has some good theory points for a beginner like me. It's also sexist though lmao but I mean, go figure
1,421 reviews13 followers
June 2, 2018
Very old book, but the basic principles still seem sound. I particularly liked that the writing is very straightforward and unpretentious.

The thing I noticed is that it seems many of these ideas would apply to all kinds of "selling", not just advertising.

Hence, if you need to write things that persuade people, you could probably pick up some tips from here.
Profile Image for Samantha.
210 reviews
February 21, 2019
I expected it to have a tad more revelations. It was interesting to hear about how long copy doesn't necessarily deter people but I have to say, the copy on that was so long that I couldn't recap WHY exactly. The list of good headlines was interesting but outdated. It's a book written in the 60s that naturally has objective truths and cultural truths more representative of the time than ALL TIME. It's not terribly relevant to SEO-friendly copy and AI writing of course. It's not a good sign that I read it but struggle to remember WHAT I even read. I wish I gleaned more insights from it! I can't tell if it's my mood or the book itself so I'll blame both!
Profile Image for Aldo Scott.
11 reviews
June 26, 2017
A great book that illustrates its points with examples. I could have used more of them in section regarding the body copy of an ad.

Read this book and gain a clear understanding of the structure of an advertisement.
Profile Image for Don Sevcik.
Author 10 books6 followers
October 21, 2017
One of the best books on copywriting and advertising mentality I've ever read. Straight advice, humor, and lessons learned in the trenches give you the skills to improve.

There is gold in the old!
Profile Image for Ivan Kreimer.
114 reviews23 followers
June 6, 2019
A pretty dated book on advertising that still provides good value to anyone who wants to learn a new copywriting framework and rehash the same old yet effective techniques everyone knows.
Profile Image for Adam.
413 reviews28 followers
September 4, 2021
Excellent and useful read, almost timeless except for 2-3 chapters with some outdated sexist content.
1 review
September 12, 2022
Wonderful introduction into this field. Excellent copywriting lessons, examples and anecdotes to spur the reader on
Profile Image for Kajetan Walczak.
70 reviews2 followers
January 1, 2023
Apparently, it's a classic. Not my favorite but I have a notebook full of ideas now so I guess it worked.
363 reviews4 followers
May 16, 2020
Discovered this book through John Carlton's recommendation. It is an excellent classic book on the art of writing advertising copy. Don't let the references to newspaper advertising and direct mail put you off. The principles of testing, headlines and more all still apply. I've highlighted quite a few passages and plan to return to it later. If you read "Scientific Advertising" and want to find another classic text from decades ago, this one is for you (along with the Robert Collier Letter Book).
July 9, 2020
Would you be mistaken for skipping on this book?

Its psychology on human behavior is as timely.
Its methods are proven.
The examples may be old, but don't get lazy reading between the lines. You'll definitely learn something.
Want to get past AIDA, this is going to be a fresh approach for you?
Lots of names and books referenced. You'll want to find those old books!
You'll read expert advise from a person who has done it.

You can't take my word for it. You just owe it to yourself to read it. Go ahead, you might just learn something different. Grab a copy now.
Profile Image for Kaycie.
352 reviews1 follower
January 19, 2019
A lot to take from this book, but again like many great copy books, so much is dated in the internet age. I would love to see a similar format updated for today's society.
I.e., breakdown analyses of specific print mailings versus general magazine ads are useful in principle to learn how to think, but not so practically useful anymore...what about email list mailings, which are essentially free? That changes the game significantly...
Profile Image for Christian Jespersen.
Author 2 books7 followers
September 16, 2017
If this book was an ad, I would not buy it.
I didn't like the wait was written and there were too many chapters with no real use.

Many of the bullet list were highlighted and I will definitely read them again and implement them in my writing.

But you are much better of reading or rereading Ogilvy on Advertising.
4 reviews
November 14, 2019
Wish it was a shorter course!

Helpful information. Somewhat outdated and verbose. Lots of “as so and so said” for examples. I will be tested on this information, so the quizzes at the end of each chapter will be my study review.
Profile Image for Fotis Chatzinicolaou.
79 reviews13 followers
June 21, 2016
Καλό αν και δεδομένου ότι είναι γραμμένο το 50, αρκετό από το υλικό φαίνεται (τουλάχιστον σε μένα) outdated.
Profile Image for Luke Tucker.
27 reviews6 followers
November 21, 2016
one i will often reference. headline formulas, writing tips, advertising and sales pragmatism. Took a lot of notes on this one.
Profile Image for Mateusz Wis.
2 reviews
March 5, 2020
It is a must-read for every business owner

If you want to understand copywriting and learn it- this is the way to do it. Read this book now.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 30 reviews

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