The Art and Science of Headline Writing

Perhaps technically not rocket science, but headline writing is certainly an art. And often its value is as important, if not more so, than the first paragraph of a news story or feature. So help your own writing or that of your communications teammates by taking this part of your writing assignment seriously. Here a few quick headline-writing pointers to ponder

  • Like any solid sentence, headlines need a subject and a strong verb.
  • Think of the headline as if it were the book title of your short story.
  • Use active, not passive, voice.
  • Use fresh, inviting language to spark curiosity for reading the full story.
  • Avoid the use of label heads — those that might offer a topic but don’t say anything about it; they’re simply nouns or noun phrases without an action (verb).
  • While you’re at it, avoid gerund-driven headlines, those where the action is not actually a verb but a noun born of a verb by adding -ing to the end.

Here are links to additional tips on how to write ever better headlines:

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