One thousand Finnish people aged 20 years and more were interviewed to investigate how people perceive dentists' yellow page advertisements and which attributes they find attractive. Each subject was asked to identify the advertisement that captured his/her attention the most and which one least from a double-page spread of dentists' yellow page ads. The subjects were then asked to give the reason for the decisions, which was duly recorded. Various characteristics of the ads were recorded. In the analyses the five most commonly attractive and the five most commonly unattractive ads were compared with all the others shown to the subjects. The five most commonly chosen attractive advertisements were larger and had less text density than the others (P < 0.001). In contrast, use of frames decreased by fourfold the probability of being chosen. The subjects most often reported use of pictures or photograph, clarity of the ad, and large size as the reasons for choosing their favorite ad. Commonly expressed reasons for disliking an ad were small print, being boring or uninformative, and an unclear or muddled look. All three ads designed by advertising professionals were among the five most commonly attractive, whereas all five most commonly unattractive ads were planned by dentists themselves. Dentists plan their yellow page advertisements alone much too often. This results in ads that consumers do not necessarily distinguish from the mass of others. Consumers appreciated use of a picture or photograph and a clear message in large ads. Common criticisms were small print and a boring, uninformative, or unclear appearance.