Newspaper writing is a creative writing, an art and a skill. Writing good headlines is likely the most important skill involved. In fact, a great headline cans double the number of people who read a story. So good newspaper headline writing is critical to an article’s success, and by extension, a paper’s success.
Here’s a checklist to help you write stunning headlines. If you can positively tick all ten items, you can be sure you’ve got a great one.
• Attention-Grabbing: A Newspaper headline’s primary purpose is attracting reader’s attention. A non-catchy title puts a damper on the proceedings. However, don’t hype it up. You don’t want readers disgusted with a dud while they anticipated explosive content.
• Pertinent: While it must be catchy, it should also be to the point. Read the article and summarize its main point. If there are two or three, pick the most important. If there are over three points, perhaps the article should be rewritten with more focus.
• Concise: You should be able to read a headline at a glance. Limit it to a maximum of ten words. Pompous, verbose headlines will lose most readers’ interest.
• Crisp: Avoid vagueness. A headline with specifics is always better. As opposed to a vague title like, “effective newspaper writing”, this article has a more specific one. Don’t give away too much detail, though.
• Intrigue: A good headline is interesting, but a great one is intriguing. Try to get your reader curious to read more. Relevance is essential, but don’t steal the article’s thunder by packing too much in the headline.
• Verb Use: Employ strong verbs, but try not to use words that have multiple meanings. “Trucker strikes hit state” – the meaning may not be clear at first. Never confuse readers.
• Small Words: Avoid using “big” words as far as possible. “Treaty” is better than “agreement”. But don’t look up obscure terms or abbreviations for the heck of shortening words. Also avoid using jargon and technical terms. Try to keep the language as normal as possible.
• Tone: Ensure the headline’s tone matches that of the article. Don’t try to come up with a clever headline all the time. Use a funny headline only if the article calls for it.
• Interpretation: Verify that the meaning you intend to communicate is indeed what is understood. Ask a couple of people. It’s okay if someone doesn’t understand your pun immediately. Be careful about unintended double-meanings slipping in.
• Proof It: A spelling error or typo anywhere in a newspaper is always a bad thing, but a headline is the worst possible place for one to occur. Check it multiple times, to avoid the awful embarrassment.
Finally, don’t content yourself with a single attempt. Try out multiple versions, and pick the best one. These guidelines will surely help you create great headlines for your newspaper content writing.
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This entry was posted on Sunday, August 22nd, 2010 at 10:10 am and is filed under Newspaper writing, Writing. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.