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What's in a headline

Updated on April 18, 2015

Headlines are important, nay, they are crucial to allow you to want to read, or just go to the next article, or page.

You have to be careful when you are forming the headline and say to yourself: "Will it grab, or will readers skip over." It's an easy choice between excitement and color versus bore, dullness and the mundane.

A headline has to have punch, and make people curious, inquisitive, interested. If it doesn't have none of these elements, then many will sure skip over and look for another interesting article.

And how will they know that? By the headline. So we come back to the old story. It is the headline, the headline and the headline someone inside your head should scream. It should make people interested, excited, full of buzzing energy, and even jumping up and down in their boots to read and ponder.

Professional journalists and newspapers take a great deal of time in choosing their headlines, and that should go for every single article. Because it is these precious headlines that sell newspapers and make article read.

Unfortunately quite a lot of writers over look this fact. They are busy getting the article right, that they don't really bother about the headline.

In the end they just put some kind of a long, windy headline that sounds more like a sentence, or even a paragraph, well a small paragraph! I see it lots of times. They, miss the whole point of a headline.

That can be great pity because readers will immediately pepper over, maroon their eyes, maybe have a yawn at what can be a perfectly good story, if it's given the chance to be read, and just go to the next "interesting" headline.

I know many people would say headlines are a drag. They are excited about finishing the article and can't be bothered to walk that extra mile, or one meter I should say, of putting a decent, grabbing banner that should surely tickle the reader from the bottom upwards.

It's really simple. Headlines should be chosen at the end when all the writing is over, when you, the writer is fully consumed with what you have just said, and the words just roll off the page, inside your mouth, unto your tongue and roll back on the paper or the screen.

Frequently as well, you can pick the headline from the body of the article, interesting phrasing, sentences, and paragraphs that stand out. A couple of words, may be three or four active ones that will make the ears perk up, and the person at the opposite end listen.

In one newspaper around the world whom I will not mention, and a daily that sells at least few million, a whole committee exists to choose the headlines, studying, glossing over, pondering, deep in thought over the choice, headlines that grab and titillate, maybe just one word or two to inspire, give innate excitement and possibly psychologically pander to prejudices.

Although ulterior motives may well exist, apart from keeping the readers happy which go up to 2 or 3 million per day, and are a big sell market, headlines are important, crucial to get readers interested in your article regardless of the corporate potential that is involved.


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    • Russell-D profile image

      Russell-D 6 years ago from Southern Ca.

      Re: Salk Vaccine. I was an MOD writer-producer in their HEADLINE success years. When the Polio epidemic ended,MOD addressed infant birth diseases. Our creative team pushed for the theme "Back The Team That Beat Polio". But, the money people didn't like it, wanting more visual hits. We creatives quit which is why you saw all those deformed kids in their ads. They failed,so the agency moved on as did I. David

    • Bbudoyono profile image

      Bbudoyono 6 years ago

      The same principle applies to book title I guess.

    • Attikos profile image

      Attikos 6 years ago from East Cackalacky

      Among my favorite headlines:

      Two convicts evade noose, jury hung

      Russian virgin lands short of goal again

      Miners refuse to work after death

      I think those are punchy as they come.

    • tsmog profile image

      Tim Mitchell 6 years ago from Escondido, CA

      thanks for the view and more importantly a thought or two. Hmmmmmm, goes my mind pondering the titles of hubs. Again, thanks and remember to smile and have fun, fun, fun, , ,

    • profile image

      Feline Prophet 6 years ago

      There speaks a journalist! :)

    • Sally's Trove profile image

      Sherri 6 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

      I agree with you completely about the importance of a headline. It's been said that it only takes five seconds for someone new to form a lasting impression of you. If you don't make a positive impact on this new person in those five seconds, then you probably never will. Same with headlines, only the time span is more like a nanosecond.

      I like what you have to say about writing the meat of the article then going back to create the headline. The same advice is good for writing leads.

      As for me, I want a headline team of my own. I find them enormously difficult to write!