Headlines summarize the story

This is the second big job of headlines. It’s also the most dangerous one. A vague headline is a quick way to ticked off readers, who leave and never come back. You know, like when you visit a news site and click through to an article and it’s just not what you thought it was about. And you get mad, right? A little because they tricked you. A little because you spent download time and bandwidth on content that wasn’t what you want. But you’re mad. Keep doing that, infosource.com, and you are going to lose all your friends.

It has an even bigger ramification. Headlines count a lot in the algorithms that search engines use to determine what your page is about and how worthwhile it is for searchers to see it. A vague headline doesn’t tell you what the page is about. So not only are you losing your loyal friends, you aren’t going to get any new ones, because no one will be able to find it. 

I’ve taught headline writing for years, and some things carry through, others don’t. 

Still works:

Look for the 3 major aspects of a story: Content, Tone, Angle

  • Be specific and precise
  • Use accurate, vivid nouns and verbs
  • Use them in subject – verb – object order

Learn more: 

Blast from the past – how journalists were taught to write headlines. On paper. 

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