10 Tips for Writing Effective Headlines

Headlines have the potential to grab people. It is all about what you make of them! They can turn a scanner into a reader. It is most likely the first thing a reader will see aside from pictures. They also help to break up your writing in a clear way. Here are some tips in attempting to do grab a reader’s attention with headlines:

  1. Make them brief, straightforward, active, and useful.
  2. They should add another layer of information and not just repeat something that has already been said.
  3. Use subheadings when an article or story is longer than 350 words.
  4. It is more about informing the reader than entertaining the reader. When in doubt, leaving the rhyming out.
  5. Avoid abbreviations, slang, idioms, colloquialisms, and puns.
  6. Explain what the article or story is about in the simplest of terms. The headline should make absolutely clear what the story concerns. This is especially important for digital writing because if your heading states what the article is about, then someone using key words to search for the topic will find it easier.
  7. Skip articles such as “a,” “an” and “the,” especially when starting the headline.
  8. Make the first word important. Grab the reader as soon as possible. Try avoiding using “the” as the first word.
  9. Do not start all headlines with the same word. The same word repeated would confuse.
  10. Use clear type and legible colors, and make the text big enough to read. A headline should not look like this:
Student Found With Gun in Beverley High
While much of what is shown in Jay Leno’s segment “Headlines” on the Tonight Show are mistakes within an article or ad, here is a humorous segment for your enjoyment. Hopefully Leno will help you to see why these tips and proofreading are vital to your writing.
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