Sometimes, even the best creatives need a kick-start.

Smart copywriters use various sets of tools to reach their content goals. One of these tools is called a “swipe file”.

A swipe file is a set of templates a copywriter keeps on hand and refers to when starting a new project. These files can consist of anything they think will help them: a range of advertorials, headlines, articles, Facebook ads, etc., etc.

Used properly, a swipe file can get a copywriter producing content quickly, at a larger volume, and improve their overall writing skills.


“Good writers copy. Great writers steal.” – T.S. Eliot

Copywriting has been happening since people had things to sell. This means we’ve got hundreds of years of content to inspire us, mimic and learn from. Only the best stuff hasn’t been lost in the mists of time.

In turn, that means we’ve got entire archives of writing that can evoke certain emotions, persuade people to take action, make prospects believe they would be lost without a specific product or service.

To use a similar example:

When learning to write prose, Hunter S. Thompson would type Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby” and Hemingway’s “A Farewell To Arms” word for word, until he had copied both novels in their entirety. Once he’d finished, he went back and copied them both again.

Though it sounds like a laborious, pointless task, Thompson taught himself to write like the greats, infusing their styles into his consciousness. From there, he took his newfound knowledge and wrote a very different book to the ones he took inspiration from: “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas”.

And that’s what we’re trying to do with our Facebook ads. By copying the greats and reappropriating what we know works, we too will use our knowledge to write fantastic advertisements.  


To get a good idea of a copywriter’s swipe file, search for “Headline Swipe Files” on Google and download some PDFs.

In these, there’s a whole range of headline templates, with the option to fill in the blanks.

For example, a headline could say “How To Master The Art And Science Of…” and you would end the sentence with whatever service you’re trying to sell.

Still, it’s not quite as simple as “grab and go”. Study each headline and decide which one best suits your product or service, and the tone you’re trying to convey.

Say, for example, you find a brilliant headline like this one:

The Amazing Story of a Zippo That Worked After Being Taken From The Belly Of A Fish

(David Ogilvy, 1960)

And used it to promote Health Insurance:

The Amazing Story of A Man Who Got Treated Faster After He Ditched The NHS and Paid For Private Medical Insurance


Obviously, this new headline is horrible, and it doesn’t work.

But we can still use the original title for inspiration if we pick it apart and highlight the key elements:

1. It creates intrigue

2. It suggests a “magical” result

3. It actually happened so it can’t be too good to be true

4. It tells customers they deserve only the best

If we apply what we’ve learned here, we can use these key components to create our own headline that suggests much the same:

REVEALED: Amazing Alternative To NHS Queues

(Graham Conolly, 2018)

1. “REVEALED…Alternative” – it creates intrigue. What’s been revealed? What’s the alternative?

2. “REVEALED: Amazing…” – It suggests a “magical” result

3. “Amazing alternative” – it’s a recognised option, so can’t be too good to be true

4. “To NHS Queues” – It tells customers their health is worth more than waiting in line


This is just an example, of course, but the process works.

You can also just scan through a huge list of headlines until you find one suitable for your niche, and then simply plug the gaps.


As I mention in all my posts, it’s all about the creative.

The better the content, the better the campaign. The more attractive the campaign, the bigger the ROI.

It’s that simple.

Start by using the swipe files to generate as many headlines as you can, i.e. 20-25.

Out of those 25, choose 5 you really like, and upload those ads to Facebook. You’ll be amazed how a well-crafted headline can reduce the cost of your leads!

Headline swipe files are a potent tool and, used properly, they’ll boost your advertising campaigns from “average” to “exemplary”.

If you’re still struggling with your campaigns after this post, head on over to our site, and take a look at our FREE case study.

We’ll provide you with a range of options to best suit and solve your needs.

You can also write to us on our social media sites, including our other blogs and the Flexxable page on Facebook.

Have you ever used swipe files to boost your campaigns? What were the results? Comment in the boxes below!


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