The Paragraph V. The Long Sentence. Continued
These were designed to sell a Rheumatic Cure - practically by mail
When the series was completed, and approved by the Client, I had them set in good large body type, a generous size which up to that time I believed the only proper vehicle for transmitting Advertising thought
Final proofs being shown to my client for O. K., he said, "Set them in small type, about one-third of this size, too."
I asked him why!
And for his answer I have ever since been grateful
He said: "I know it will be entirely useless to tell you why - because your answer will be just about what my own was some time ago.
"You will say that sufferers from Rheumatism are usually elderly people, whose eyesight is naturally poor, and who would therefore have difficulty in reading small type.
"You will also say that newspaper impression is so poor, in the majority of mediums we use, that this type will probably fill up with ink and prove illegible in a large part of the circulation we pay for.
"And you will say that, for these reasons, only a few people will make the effort to read our Advertisements, when set in small type, while many elderly people will not be able to read them at all
"I know you will say and believe this, just as / once said and believed it
"That's why I will not argue the case with you, but just ask you to run the series both ways at my expense - for your own education.
"Run it in the large as well as in the small body type, in our test list of 21 newspapers.
"Run the Advertisements first in the large type, then in the small type, check up the cost of inquiries and Sales from each, then cross them, and use in future whichever type the results clearly indicate."
Well, the Result was such an eye-opener to me that I have ever since turned to just such Tests for my own information in dubious cases
- Instead of proceeding upon my own mere opinion, or upon that of any other man when his "opinion" was based upon anything less than just such actual evidence as these test cases afford.
Do yon like that!
Perhaps, when yon are very tired.
When yon are fresh and well, how does it make you feel?
How does it?
It makes the gentle reader feel like a member of the Primer Class.
Some advertisers are that way.
They say, Primer Class stand up!
They say, Little Robin, open your bill;
You cannot take in a whole worm;
I will nip it off in little morsels for you.
This kind of thing has its uses, but it should not be abused, for on a long run it tires us to go by short steps. We must group things. We must get on by longer stages. Display paragraphing is often a matter of getting attention under false pretensions. It leads us to think every sentence an important heading of an outline, when it may be nothing but an illustration or some other detail.
This appears in the case of paragraphs which offer in themselves cause and effect, or end and means. If cause and effect can come together they are more quickly grasped than if they are paragraphed separately. It is merely a question of how much description or explanation or proof is necessary.
Take the following good paragraph, from Mr. Deland's "Imagination in Business":
It must be remembered always that it is not the price of an article which is important, but the reason for the price. This is one of the backbone truths of merchandising, and when once a seller gets a firm hold of this fact, and is able to apply it in its highest efficiency, he can almost devastate the trade. I have seen on more than one occasion the delight with which a retail advertiser first clearly grasps this idea. We can detect something of it in one of the illustrations just used; but now what is the reason which underlies this law? Is it not this: that the argument for the price is the imaginative part of the transaction? The price itself is absolutely unimaginative. Admit that the reason for the price is an important thing in the transaction, and that a high price with a good reason will sell more goods than a low price with a poor reason, and it is only reaffirming, in another form, the power of the imagination in business.
The writer of those gatling-gun paragraphs on the merits of small type would have split this paragraph up into several.
It might indeed be split after the semicolon before the words "now what is the reason." If it were to be printed as an advertisement it might well be divided there. But in a book it is better as a single whole. It makes a complete little organism just as it stands. Yon get a cause and an effect at one stroke. The whole thing makes a strong argument.
§ 19. We may distinguish between the deductive and the inductive paragraph. The deductive states a proposition first and then defends it. The inductive gives the facts first, and ends with a conclusion. Here are two examples:
Dew does not fall, but condenses. You sometimes find dew on the under side of boards. And sometimes you find it on the outside of a cold pitcher. It is atmospheric moisture which has collected there.
Dew is sometimes found on the under side of boards. Again you find it on the outside of pitchers on a warm day. Therefore we infer that it is the moisture in the air, which condenses on surfaces. Dew does not fall It condenses or collects.
The deductive order is commoner than the inductive. People like to say their say and prove it afterward. This paragraph that I am writing now is an example. It sets down the proposition and then talks about it. It reminds you of a "topic song."
But suppose you wish to defer your proposition. Suppose you are not quite sure how it will be received. Suppose it is unusual or startling. Then do you bring it out before giving the facts on which it is based? Are you deterred by the fear of losing the reader's attention? No. [At this point my paragraph reaches its inductive conclusion.] You present the data rapidly and then state your proposition.
§ 20. Even as a theme may have an outline, so may a paragraph. It will of course be a mere group of topics to jog the writer's mind. Very often such outlines are printed as advertisements, to save words. A glance at the want-ads of any daily newspaper will show what is meant. Telegrams, too, are often mere topic-outlines.