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Advertising Prescriptive Literature: Getting Started

Manning Seil and Frank B Senger, Advertising Copy and Layout. Danville, IL: Interstate Printers & Publishers, 1958. 


In the field of advertising, prescriptive literature includes copywriting guides, advertising textbooks and general introductions to salesmanship strategies. Some of these target specific aspects of the industry, while others offer a more comprehensive view. Some may focus specifically on print advertisements, while others consider diverse media and forms. In the more comprehensive guides, the authors and editors often try to strike a balance between investigating physical form of the ad--technical matters such as visual layout, verbal mechanics and test audiences--and theorizing the intellectual form--more abstract questions such as what constitutes a creative idea or what inspires consumer behavior. The authors come from a variety of professional backgrounds, however most are either business and marketing professors or freelance advertising consultants.

Despite their varied approaches to the topic of public relations, these guides represent a unified, transhistorical effort to bolster the image of advertising as a reputable endeavor, capable of being dissected into a series of teachable steps. Studied individually, the texts offer a glimpse into the accepted practices of the the industry at a given point in history. However, when considered collectively, they track the major socio-cultural shifts of the twentieth century.


Search the Catalog for Prescriptive Guides

This guide does not provide a comprehensive list of our holdings; additional titles can be found using the Duke University Library’s online catalog. Use the following steps for best results:

  1. Select Advanced Search.
  2. In the Author field type "Hartman Center."
  3. In the Subject Heading field type one of the following subject terms that best fit your search:
  • Copy
  • Copywriting
  • Advertising layout and typography
  • Business Writing
  • Television Advertising
  • Commercial Catalogs 
  • Advertising, Magazine
  • Radio Advertising 
  • Advertising--Research
  • Advertising agencies--Management

Elbrun Rochford French, The Copywriter's Guide. New York: Harper, 1958.

Subject Guide

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Josh Larkin Rowley
Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library