by ep2002
21 replies
Just to be clear, I'm not a copywriter.

Hi,

So last week I read that centering an important sentence (not a whole parag.) on a sales page or even just an about page isn't acceptable.

Is this true?

Copywriters have been doing this for ions, no?

It's supposed to draw attention to that point.

And what about bolding it as well?

Thanks
#centering #sentences
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  • Profile picture of the author SARubin
    Originally Posted by ep2002 View Post

    Just to be clear, I'm not a copywriter.

    Hi,

    So last week I read that centering an important sentence (not a whole parag.) on a sales page or even just an about page isn't acceptable.

    Is this true?

    Copywriters have been doing this for ions, no?

    It's supposed to draw attention to that point.

    And what about bolding it as well?

    Thanks

    Isn't acceptable to whom? And where did you learn such a thing?


    Now I wouldn't recommend centering an entire page, but there's nothing wrong with drawing attention to a particularly important statement. Like using subheads for example...


    Subheadings are often centered

    And they're often a different color, and larger as well (which also draws attention to them)


    You can also draw attention to important sales elements by using "bullet points", and other elements, such as...
    * "quotation marks"

    * italics

    * underlines

    * bolding

    Of course you don't want to overdo it. Because if you try to draw attention to everything... then you end up drawing attention to nothing.

    But you can certainly emphasize different parts of sales copy with variations. (Including centering a sentence or two)
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  • Profile picture of the author OptedIn
    Fine for headlines, not so much for body text. Great for poetry.

    These are not rules. They are widely accepted conventions.
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    • Profile picture of the author globaloffers
      It's great for headline with red color to attract the attention of your page visitors.
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  • I used to know a guy who was real big in the meditation an' mindfulness area.

    Ran a cool Yoga school an' had plenty fam & network kudos -- evrythin' from Krishnamurti to the latest fabrics rollin' outta the leisurewear industry.

    Anyways, one time he figured on chillin' out durin' a PROTEST.

    Plenty people planned to show -- polarized an' spoilin' for a fight -- an' the guy wanted to demonstrate how non-violence an' stillness could exist in the midst of a politically charged maelstrom.

    So, yeah, guy got his teeth kicked in, an' the sandals he got hand-embroidered from natchrlly deceased butterfly antennae by Mahabodhi Temple pilgrims got TRASHED -- at which point he kinda lost his cool an' got himself arrested.

    The cops threw him in jail for 2 days, along with a whole buncha thugs an' salaried rioters.


    Headline in the local noospaper ran like this ...


    BAD-TEMPERED BUDDHIST
    SENTENCED FOR PROVOCATIVE "CENTERING"


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  • Profile picture of the author ep2002
    Ok, that's what I thought, but I did read something on here in this forum.

    Thanks everyone.
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  • Profile picture of the author laurencewins
    As a writer/editor, I agree with what the others have said. While not "rules," the mentioned ways to stand out DO WORK as long as you don't over do it.


    I am editing a book for a client. 250 pages and 55000 words. Headings are centred and in bold. Sub-headings are aligned left and in bold.


    Then there are other odds and ends throughout.


    Both bullet points and numbering bullet points are terrific for lists, and italics and underlining words can also help you.
    I hope you do well, with all the tips in this thread.
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  • Profile picture of the author AlanCarr
    Headlines should be centered for fast reading.

    Sub-headlines not so much, as you want to pull the reader's eyes over to the left of the page, which is where the next sentence begins.

    People are so easily distracted now that just leaving their eyeball in the middle of the page can be enough to get them to head over to Facebook or their fav' porn site instead of finishing your copy.


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    • Profile picture of the author OptedIn
      Originally Posted by AlanCarr View Post

      Sub-headlines not so much, as you want to pull the reader's eyes over to the left of the page, which is where the next sentence begins.
      This is something that your brain automatically does. It doesn't need any help.

      You can look it up. :-)
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  • Profile picture of the author AlanCarr
    This is something that your brain automatically does
    Until it doesn't.

    A fleeting thought and they're off to Facebook again.

    One of the most important skills you'll ever learn as a copywriter is how to keep the reader's eye on the page.

    You're saying that instead of actively pulling their eye to the left with a juicy sub-headline, that we can just rely on them to read the sub in the middle, and then their eye is going to be drawn down and to the left, at the gray boring text, because...?

    Because reasons?

    Yes it's the way people read, it's automatic, but you know what's even more automatic? Giving the eye something to look at, something to get their attention. NOT relying on them to just automatically keep reading your copy.


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    • Profile picture of the author OptedIn
      Originally Posted by AlanCarr View Post

      Yes it's the way people read, it's automatic
      Thank you. That was my entire point. Everything postulated beyond that was superfluous.
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    • Profile picture of the author SARubin
      Originally Posted by OptedIn View Post

      Fine for headlines, not so much for body text. Great for poetry.

      These are not rules. They are widely accepted conventions.
      Yeah, they're not rules. But sometimes I think they should be.

      The last time I was here (a couple weeks ago) one guy had the body copy throughout his entire site, centered.
      And all I could think was "Really...? This is how you want to present yourself to the world?"

      Thankfully someone else here called it out, so I didn't have to.


      Originally Posted by Princess Balestra View Post

      BAD-TEMPERED BUDDHIST
      SENTENCED FOR PROVOCATIVE "CENTERING"

      Princess, you never fail to crack me up


      Originally Posted by OptedIn View Post

      This is something that your brain automatically does. It doesn't need any help.

      You can look it up. :-)
      In western languages we automatically read from left to right. But some Arabic and Hebrew text goes right to left.

      (Yes, Optedin, I know this has nothing to do with this thread. But I've been away for a couple weeks, and I just wanted to let you know that I missed our little back and forth chats )

      Originally Posted by AlanCarr View Post

      You're saying that instead of actively pulling their eye to the left with a juicy sub-headline, that we can just rely on them to read the sub in the middle, and then their eye is going to be drawn down and to the left, at the gray boring text, because...?


      NOT relying on them to just automatically keep reading your copy.
      Hopefully the text isn't boring in the first place, or we'll lose most people at the beginning of the page. It doesn't matter if the subheads are centered, left aligned, upside-down, or animated... If the copy is boring, who's going to read it anyway?

      On the other hand, if the copy is interesting and engaging to the reader, (meaning it talks about what's in it for them. And it convincingly shows the value of our offer as being equal to, or greater than what we're asking in return) then I know a lot of people who will keep reading. Regardless of whether a subhead is centered, or left aligned.

      I suppose we can talk formatting semantics all day. But at the end of the day, we don't need to look far to find control pieces (from history, and recent times) with many different formatting styles.


      And as long as the copy gets a solid response rate...well, that's what matters most to me.

      .
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      • Profile picture of the author OptedIn
        Originally Posted by SARubin View Post

        (Yes, Optedin, I know this has nothing to do with this thread. But I've been away for a couple weeks, and I just wanted to let you know that I missed our little back and forth chats )
        I know you did. I'm never far away. Always here to make your life complete. :-)
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  • Profile picture of the author AlanCarr
    So you suggest we just rely on the F pattern, while placing text outside of it?

    LOL. OK.



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  • Profile picture of the author AlanCarr
    I'm here to help, not argue but it's pretty basic UX/UI that you LEAD and GUIDE the eye where you want it to go.

    Sure, we can say "It doesn't really matter if everything else is awesome" but why not be awesome with the formatting as well?

    The question was, which is best?

    The answer is "left", because that's where the eye expects it (which in itself is a reason to NOT centralize, rather than a reason why you should) and because we want to guide their eye to the next sub-headline.

    It doesn't matter how good your sub-headline is, if they don't read it.

    I guess here you'll educate me on how good copy should encourage the reader to keep reading? Which is exactly what I'm telling you, regarding formatting, see?

    Relying on the reader to just automagically read your next line is the wrong approach. Anyway, I've answered OP; feel free to argue with yourselves.


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    • Profile picture of the author SARubin
      Originally Posted by AlanCarr View Post

      I'm here to help, not argue but it's pretty basic UX/UI that you LEAD and GUIDE the eye where you want it to go.

      Sure, we can say "It doesn't really matter if everything else is awesome" but why not be awesome with the formatting as well?

      The question was, which is best?

      The answer is "left", because that's where the eye expects it (which in itself is a reason to NOT centralize, rather than a reason why you should) and because we want to guide their eye to the next sub-headline.

      It doesn't matter how good your sub-headline is, if they don't read it.

      I guess here you'll educate me on how good copy should encourage the reader to keep reading? Which is exactly what I'm telling you, regarding formatting, see?

      Relying on the reader to just automagically read your next line is the wrong approach. Anyway, I've answered OP; feel free to argue with yourselves.


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      Who's arguing? I thought we were just exchanging ideas. I really don't see any conflict here. Except for you saying that your way is the only way.

      All I was saying is that there's often many paths that lead to the same destination. If your methods work for you... then that's great. By all means continue using them.


      In my experience, a centered subhead can still stop many "skimmers" and pull them into the page. People who otherwise might have skimmed the page and simply moved on if nothing useful caught their attention.

      One of the biggest problems I see with many salespages, is the subheads are often irrelevant to the sale.

      Ideally (in my mind, anyway) a good subheadline should be as compelling as a main headline, and it should give the reader a reason to want to pay attention.


      One problem I see all too often is bold subheads that say little more than "And that's when my life took a turn" (as if anybody who hasn't been reading the whole page knows what that refers to... or gives a crap)

      When I write headlines for a sales page, I usually write many. Of course, only one can be the main headline. But some of the second place "runner up" headlines can often make for brilliant subheadlines. And I'll often treat them just like a main headline (attention grabbing... and centered)

      If that method doesn't work for you... then don't use it.
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  • Profile picture of the author AlanCarr
    Everything you just typed is irrelevant to the point of formatting correctly.

    Yes, correctly, as only one way is the best way - and that's the way that helps to keep the reader reading your sales message.

    In my experience, a centered subhead can still stop many "skimmers" and pull them into the page. People who otherwise might have skimmed the page and simply moved on if nothing useful caught their attention
    You seem to think centered text is easier to scan, while every UI/UX study I've ever seen says quite the opposite?

    The human eye is not expecting the left-hand margin to move and by breaking the flow you can break their reading trance and that breaks everything else.

    Again, let's stick to formatting. It's a given, or should be, that the text should be engaging and relevant and answering objections etc etc etc.

    I suspect you're confusing sub-headings with headlines.

    A headline should be centered, precisely because it makes it stand out and difficult to read, which, if you've done your job right with some power words such as "You" in it, they will do anyway. For THAT situation you actually want them to slow down to get full comprehension.

    Sub-headings are totally different - they're for keeping the flow going. and for drawing the reader into the message because it's a message that easy to read!

    So you DO NOT break the readability by centering.

    Take my old website for example, a bit 90's but still brings me clients (I have a newer one now):

    Alan Carr, sales copywriter

    Headline, centered. Heck even the sub-headline, not sub-header, is centered. But after that, all the sub-heads are left-aligned, like they should be.

    Importantly, they tell a story for skimmers, a story that FLOWS. This is important to understand and why I'm willing to dig in over this, because telling people it's OK to center subs is bad advice.

    Here's the flow:

    Let's talk about YOUR dreams...

    Because Life Isn't Fair...

    Why I'm The Salesman You Need To Talk To:

    "Best... we've ever had" (<testimonial carefully placed)

    I Decided...

    "Make my own products? Yes!" (I specialize in software and SaaS, so this resonates with my market)

    Your Key To Success...

    The fact is...

    You Need A Sales Copywriter

    A Great Copywriter...

    Mentored By The Best

    I've Been Where You Are:

    Your Bigger Dreams Can Come True... (centered, in red)

    Consider this:

    Here's How I Help You:

    If you fit this criteria, get in touch right now:

    And Get A FREE Mini-Consultation!


    Those are just the sub-headings. Even if you don't read ANY of the body text and just skim those subs, you still get the sales message, see?

    Understand that's the last-ditch attempt at a skimmer - what you really want is for them to read the body, so we make it easy to read, left aligned like it should be, and directly, no spacing, over the text below that we want their eyes to go to.

    You'll notice I do use one of them centered, and in red, a mini headline, because that's the false close, but I'm probably getting a bit technical...

    Any student of UX will tell you left is easier to read, every style manual will, and invariably when dealing with a client's style sheet it will state the same.

    You only center your subs when you want to STOP the reader, like I did with the false close or if you're adding a safety warning to an instruction manual or something. You don't do it for readability.

    Call me ol' grumpy but I'm really not interested in discussing this further. Rules are meant to be broken now and then, sure, and once in a while go for it. OP was asking about a specific sentence, and like I did with the 'dreams come true' thing, yes, you can.

    But for sub-headings, as a rule, no.



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    • Profile picture of the author OptedIn
      Originally Posted by AlanCarr View Post

      Call me ol' grumpy
      Sorry! That monicker has already been claimed.
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    We can share it


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    • Profile picture of the author OptedIn
      Originally Posted by AlanCarr View Post

      We can share it APC
      No - but I can recommend many other substitutions. lol

      Additionally, it just wouldn't be feasible. Once one's identity is established, you'll only look like a usurper, as no one would ever believe that I agreed to share - anything. Everyone know me too well.
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  • Profile picture of the author AlanCarr
    We'll figure something out...


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    • Profile picture of the author OptedIn
      Originally Posted by AlanCarr View Post

      We'll figure something out... APC
      PM me for my PalPal addy. No crypto-crap accepted. :-)
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